Manufacturing – Innovative Laundry Solutions

Girbau is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of commercial laundry equipment – supplying, installing and servicing products around the world for more than 55 years. As a family-owned company, its watchwords are quality, reliability and customer care, which, it says, it puts above short-term profits for shareholders.

As such, the company is clear that its approach to innovation needs to reflect this ethos. New products from Girbau must not just disrupt the market, but also need to work for the long term. And teams must be equipped with the skills to continually innovate, in order to keep pace with fast-moving competition and to deliver to customers time and again.

Girbau had already made strides towards achieving this ambition, having invested in a dedicated manager to create a structure around corporate innovation, and to continuously drive its efforts. Importantly, Girbau has avoided falling into the trap of siloing innovation from the rest of the organisation – integrating talent from across the business into its new innovation team.

Kickboxing its way to success

Girbau turned to AfCE to help it unleash the power of innovation in the organisation – not just through one project, but by creating an army of innovators. The organisation knew that AfCE was different to other providers because of its mentorship approach. AfCE’s expert mentors not only speak multiple languages and come with a variety of experience, they’ve done it before. They’re proven entrepreneurs who can bring their real life experience to bear for their clients.

AfCE’s expert mentor took Girbau through a customised ‘Kickbox’ programme. Kickbox, initially developed as an internal tool for Adobe, has proven a transformational open-source product which speeds up the innovation process, increases the potential success and positive outcomes of projects and significantly reduces costs.

AfCE has perfected the original Adobe programme with a new high-level curriculum, and a more hands-on approach, which Girbau’s team has adopted to become certified Pioneer Level intrapreneurs, by following the processes laid out in the engaging, do-it-yourself kit.

For Girbau, as with many of AfCE’s customers, there is a concrete goal to work toward. In December this year, the team is presenting ideas to the board, with the goal of moving forward with a new product which will help the organisation maintain its reputation for delivering quality and innovative laundry solutions. This aggressive timeline – the team had just two and a half months to complete the programme – gave Girbau not only an ambitious goal but also the impetus to work together and foster a culture of collaboration.

The six-step programme moved quickly for Girbau. The first step, Inception, saw the team take a step back to firmly establish its motivations and establish its goals, before moving onto the Ideate stage.

With so many organisations reporting that innovation is removed from other areas of the business, the Ideate stage helps to counteract this issue, as the team is expected to gather input from within the organisation. By getting buy-in from across the business, the Girbau innovation team could ensure it was aligned within management’s long-term objectives and KPIs as well as opening up the lines of communications with co-workers.

At this stage, ideas begin to emerge, and it’s the perfect time for brainstorming before reaching weeks three and four, the Improve stage, where raw ideas are refined. This is also the time to commit to one idea, so that progression can occur.

Experimenting has been the primary focus of weeks five through seven, or the Investigate portion of the Kickbox, where the Girbau teams worked through discovery and further on to validation of the concept that has been identified. The team soon found that not everyone will love all aspects of an idea, so it’s much better to understand which of the moving parts will need to be replaced sooner, rather than later.

As weeks eight and nine are reached, the program moves steadily toward the process of optimising the idea – Iterate. Team members will need to change or pivot in this level, develop another clear hypothesis and then test it to make quick improvements.

The final level – Infiltrate – will typically spread over the final week, and it will include the last stages of infiltrating your idea into the company. Storytelling is extremely important at this level — a compelling story is often the differentiator between failure and success.

So today Girbau is a long way through its Kickbox journey, which has been backed by AfCE’s innovation mentors with proven track records, and who are steadily taking the organisation to the next level when it comes to corporate innovation. Every team has presented a final idea to the board – a very high conversion rate when compared to other innovation projects.

And Girbau has not only developed a number of ideas which are already validated and backed by the business, even before they’re presented, but importantly this team is also developing the skills to nurture a culture of innovation which can permeate throughout the organisation, for the long term.