Recently, Parker Hannifin had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion on innovation. From Laboratory to Wall Street; How Hopes and Dreams Enter the Marketplace, hosted by Cleveland State University as part of their 50th anniversary celebration, featured a diverse panel of professionals from a variety of industries, including Parker’s Pete Buca, Vice President, Technology & Innovation, Fluid Connectors Group.
Buca shared the company’s perspectives on the role of innovation in today’s business environment, and began by explaining the importance of innovation to Parker.
“At Parker, we look at innovation through the eyes of our customers. Parker is committed to innovation because great innovation creates enduring value for our customers, for our company, and for society.”
He explained that innovation is about more than just technology. It’s about people, processes, attitudes and culture. Every space in the organization has to be committed to innovation in order for it to be successful.
He also shared Parker’s perspective that, in order to be successful, innovation must be part of an organization’s culture –everyone has to participate in the process. He also shared the belief that successful innovation means accepting failure as part of the process.
But how does an organization allow for failure as they try to grow and thrive?
Again, Buca explained that is comes back to a company’s culture. Building and cultivating a culture that views failure as part of the innovation process; that understands that people learn from and are more valuable for having experienced failure; that believes that anything done on the path to accomplishing your overarching objective- whether a success or failure- contributes to the achievement of that goal.
Of course, failure for failure’s sake is not useful. Individuals must take time to understand how and why they failed. Failure has to serve as a lesson.
Creating this kind of culture requires pushing people out of their comfort zones, encouraging them to try new things, to grow comfortable with risk and failure, and to continually ask ‘what if?’
“Leading innovation is all about creating a safe space for new thought,” concluded Buca. "It's mentoring people who don't fit into any conventional title. It's also showing your traditional leaders how to think differently. Innovation requires leaders who can see patterns developing and weigh trends and technologies far in advance. Leadership in business also requires working as part of a team that can manage the entire process from concept to commercial success. Innovators fail and we have to support each other, pick ourselves up, and find a way to win.”