Many things have changed at Coca-Cola – not just the beverages we offer or the marketing to promote the brand. The way the company works internally has changed, and will continue to change, as the way we do business externally steadily evolves. An agile and accountable workforce is critical to match the speed of changing consumer tastes and buying habits. If Coca-Cola is to remain relevant to a diverse and rapidly moving marketplace, our internal organization must be curious, empowered and innovative.
A product launch, for example, can take up to 52 weeks, with high stakes related to launch success. Now, rather than always seeking perfection, we plan for a 1.0-2.0-3.0 phased launch approach with some product introductions. The Coca-Cola Zero Sugar™ product launch in Western Europe was cut by more than half – to 22 weeks.
“We must be much more agile, get things to market quicker, test and learn; if they don’t work, move on. If they do, take them to the next stage,” said James Quincey, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Coca-Cola Company. “We will adopt more of a tech company modus operandi rather than inventing the perfect thing and taking a long time doing it.”
The test-and-learn method has seen great success with Coca-Cola brands around the world. Coca-Cola Zero Sugarwasn’t one single launch that happened overnight across all markets. The innovative, no-sugar beverage was introduced in waves through different iterations, with launch learnings applied to each new market along the way. Now in more than 20 markets, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar delivered double-digit growth in 2017.
In addition to getting new beverages to market at a more rapid pace, creativity and innovation are promoted to further foster an entrepreneurial culture where employees and teams can learn and adjust quicker. The company is advancing a “make it happen” motto, empowering employees to take smart risks and own the outcomes, even celebrating innovative failures through Coca-Cola’s Global Innovation Awards.
Coca-Cola has also flattened its organization to propel faster and more effective decision-making. This included updating the compensation structure, which now incentivizes behavior that spurs growth and rewards people who contribute to the work that matters most.
Additionally, Coca-Cola associates globally are being trained in agile practices, leaders are implementing agile principles, and agile teams have been formed to address strategic priorities. Best practices are being shared through digital tools and community events throughout the organization.
Read Mark Eppert’s agile-centric blog post, which explains the importance of companies shifting from being perfection cultures to performance cultures. Eppert is Vice President, Global Business Transformation, The Coca-Cola Company, and has been leading the company’s agile culture implementation.