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Catching the Right Waves of Innovation (INTERVIEW)

Scott Hardy, President and CEO at Polaroid
Michael Hemsworth
November 19th, 2013
An inspiring leader that always has his eye on the next wave of innovation, Polaroid President and CEO Scott Hardy is leading the photography brand into a new dawn of product development and opportunity. Using the analogy of surfing to explain the Polaroid process, Hardy believes that placing the brand’s ‘surfers’ on the shores of opportunity to catch the right waves of innovation is how they’ll continue to be a household name that delivers exceptional products and experiences.

6 Questions with Scott Hardy:

1. How does your team generate new ideas?

We have a pretty rigorous strategy session. We’re constantly talking about the future, looking ahead whether it’s six months or thee to five years down the road. We’ll keep an eye on what our competitors are doing and how we’re doing in comparison. It’s about constantly questioning the approach to really become the best we can be.

2. Do you have specific rituals for re-setting your team to be creative?

We encourage everyone to stay updated and analyze the ideas. We try to create a culture of innovation. New innovative ideas are never left in the dust and it’s definitely about creating a great innovative culture and really applauding efforts from whichever direction they come. Keeping true to the core values of the company helps significantly when it comes to the creative process. Remembering what it all means in the grand scheme is a major part of how we drive the creative process forward.

3. How do you identify trends? What resources does your team use to spot trends and consumer insights?

We try to stay pretty up-to-date with a few key subscriptions and interact with innovative leaders in the industry. From there, we’ll step back, analyze the findings and pick out the best places for the company to excel and solve problems.

We’ll meet up with cool startups from Silicon Valley or tradeshows to really start conversations. We want to always encourage and start conversations surrounding great ideas because that’s what can really help to keep the innovation fresh and insightful. It’s an exciting time in that there are so many fantastic opportunities that the ideas come from every angle rather than a structured process and that in itself can be greatly insightful.

4. Have you identified any gaps in your innovation process that you're looking to improve on?

Establishing the filtering criteria. How to choose which ideas to move forward with and which one’s to leave alone. Casting the net as wide as possible without going too far is something we’re constantly looking to improve on. It’s one thing to identify the ideas you’re excited about, but it’s also part of the process to pick out the ones that aren’t quite up our alley.

5. Has there ever been an instance where another industry has influenced an innovation at your company?

One of the innovative ideas that we’ve recently launched is the Polaroid Fotobar. Participants can transform a photo that they have in their digital devices into works of art. As such, the final product is a piece of home decor for them to enjoy. The development of the service took a lot of planning and gaining insight from the home decor industry as a whole. It’s part of our innovative business model and meshes perfectly with our brand DNA. Just like a classic Polaroid snapshot, Polaroid Fotobar allows everyone to create a lasting keepsake from something that might have otherwise remained digital.

6. Looking to the future, how is Polaroid going to be a leader in innovation?

We’re going to keep our eye on the future. We view business like surfing; we look out and see waves of innovation, so we look out to see which ones we want to go after. We’re constantly looking to the horizon. We like to think of it as putting the right surfers with the right boards on the right beaches to catch and ride the right waves of innovation. Through this process, we’ll have the best opportunity to maintain and expand the brand to be what our customers have come to love over the years. Back to the surfing aspect, you’ve got to be on the right wave to succeed.
References: trendreports, polaroid