The R&D and Manufacturing divisions of a European food manufacturer had for years kept up to date with quality standards, ISO certification was viewed as an essential cost of doing business, had been introduced, made relevant and embedded in all areas. The problem was that nevertheless both divisions were under the spotlight by the rest of the business for underperformance. R&D, in particular, for inventing products that failed to penetrate, also for selectively downgrading the product through cost effectiveness drives.
To address matters, the business had decided to spend several million pounds on new manufacturing equipment, additional investments and commitments made to new raw material supplies. Sales subsequently accelerated in their decline.
The urgent challenge was for these divisions to really understand what mattered to their customers and appreciate that what they were producing on a day-to-day basis needed to change. There was a need to adapt their quality standards, to provide a new set of standards which reflected contemporary demand. The consequence was an intensive customer capability programme which delivered dramatic innovation in the category and changed the rules on which companies compete.