Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Tag Archives: Hack

Transformation Is Iterative

Change is always happening. It’s a constant, it’s not fixed. Enterprise transformation comes about through disciplined focus, iterative change and daily optimization. I happen to love the famous Facebook quote, “Done is better than perfect.” You’ll find that quote in Facebook’s offices and it’s often included in the marketing material they send clients. There’s a certain beauty in something being done, even though you know there are ways to improve upon it.

Enterprise transformation is more of a cultural shift than it is a deliverable. It’s something you feel first and then see, later. It’s an inside-out approach that takes patience, but when things start to click, it’s amazing how quickly you can move.

The challenge of course with an inside-out approach is that you’re often critiqued on the things you can see and your critiqued in the moment, not on the whole body of work. For example, we recently launched a program called Hack The Kitchen. As we thought about the future answers to the age-old question of “what’s for dinner” we knew we needed to look beyond our walls and familiar boundaries. Recognizing that reality and choosing to do something about it took courage, speed and a cultural buy-in.

The hack isn’t a stunt or a promotion; it’s a fundamental shift in the way we’re thinking about connecting with consumers. Look at the fine details; we’re not even asking/mandating companies use our brands or products in their recommendation. Asking the developer community to do that, seemed limiting. This is exciting for me and our team. Think about it, how many CPGs even have their own API? That’s usually something expected of tech companies, not of CPG companies. This is our first major foray into partnering directly with developers, exposing our IP, and inviting people to mashup that IP. It’s not exactly what you might expect from The Campbell Soup company. I think that’s one of the things I love so much about this initiative; it’s not what you’d expect.

The feedback from the development community, both praise and critique, has been helpful. It’s helpful, because this is iterative. Unfortunately, though we see it as iterative and part of a journey, I also know that we’re being judged and evaluated in the moment. For example, one of the most consistent pieces of feedback has been regarding access to the API. Specifically, people want to know if the API will be open to all developers. You can’t make a decision on such an important question, casually. There’s so many elements to factor in, like how many sets of API keys do we want to manage, are we resourced appropriately to handle requests/questions, is the documentation comprehensive enough and what type of infrastructure do we need in place to ensure access is simple and reliable.

We’re learning a lot as we go. By the end of the Hack The Kitchen initiative, we’ll have a much better handle on the questions we’ve already been considering and the many more questions to come. One of the questions we have for participators in Hack The Kitchen is, did you find the API and supporting documentation useful and simple to leverage? That’s an important question that will guide the future state of the API.

That’s the beauty of a partnership; it’s ongoing and iterative, just like enterprise transformation. Make no mistake, we do see this as partnership. Again look at the fine print, did you notice, one of the options was for us to work with a developer to continue funding their idea to completion? Something we learned before launching this initiative is that some developers just want to create concepts, but don’t want to see them through to completion. But, others, want to stay involved from start to finish. Hack The Kitchen allows both types of developer mindsets to participate, win and thrive.

Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of the program is how we’re handling what some call “spec work.” We’re taking a very open approach to it, specifically, the “entrant retains the ownership rights to its idea unless selected as Champion or Runners-up.” Net-net, unless we pick your idea, you retain ownership of it. Being an former agency person, this was a key add to the program. It just seems fair that you should retain ownership of your idea; after all, the entrant is the one who put in the time and effort.

This is just one brick in the digital foundation we’re building at Campbell Soup. These foundational elements are helping us live up to the vision I have for us: to be the most digitally fit CPG in the world.

I like where we’re headed.