Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper with Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent
Innovation gives life to a business, and our associates worldwide work hard to remember that phrase at all times. Our Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent is a big advocate for this mindset. He offered five keys to building a culture of innovation and growth in a fast-moving, hyper-competitive world during keynote remarks at the inaugural Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) Summit on Aug. 29, 2012. Lots of valuable, stimulating information was shared during this event.

“For Coca-Cola, innovation is a journey. We don’t have all the answers or even all the questions, but we’re committed to innovation, new ways of thinking and new pathways to growth and value creation,” Kent told nearly 300 business, academic, government and nonprofit leaders at the Denver Art Museum.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper created COIN last November to stimulate economic growth, create jobs and attract new businesses by promoting collaboration and innovation among the state’s private, public and academic organizations. The two-day summit highlighted examples of innovation in action and explores solutions to Colorado’s greatest innovation challenges through a series of presentations and panels.

During a speech peppered with Coke proof points and lessons learned, Kent highlighted five steps organizations can take to achieve “self-perpetuating success” and growth:
1.    Continue to invest.
2.    Find and develop experienced, global-minded talent.
3.    Form strategic partnerships.
4.    Leverage the power of open-source networks.
5.    Maintain a relentless focus on sustainability.

Organizations must go beyond incremental developments and create unexpected or disruptive innovations that break through and make a lasting impact, Kent added. He mentioned our newly announced partnership with musician and producer on the EKOCYCLE brand initiative to encourage sustainable consumer behavior through lifestyle products made partially from recycled material. If you haven’t heard of this initiative yet – be sure to check it out online!

“One of the things I always share with Coke people is the need to remain constructively discontent,” he concluded. “Today, for all of us in business and government and civil society, the choice is between innovation and irrelevancy. You either innovate or you become irrelevant.”

What do you think? What other ways can Coke and other companies create an innovative culture to help stay ahead of the game?

View all of Muhtar Kent’s remarks at the Innovation Summit.