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Welcome to Innovation Station

My name is Jackie Marolda, and I'm looking forward to talking with you through this new PFFC blog, "Innovation Station."

Innovation is one of my favorite areas to work in. I’m a bit of an innovation geek—I like to read about innovation examples, I like to study about the processes, and share what I’ve learned and experienced, and I like to learn from others about their experiences.

Over my 30+ years in the coating and converting industry, I’ve talked with many people about why I like innovation so much and why I’ve been successful working in the arena. Very early in my career, I worked as a newspaper reporter—it was something I did in grade school then high school with a full intent of studying journalism in college. One left turn and business school called. . . but the inquisitive nature I have, the need to understand more, to ask a lot of questions and build a story—all of these have created a solid foundation that naturally developed into a love of innovation.

Throughout my career in marketing and communications, I’ve had the chance to work in some key areas of innovation and business development: understanding unmet market needs, conducting market research to find profitable opportunities and business partners, analyzing market segmentation to identify customer groups with the greatest need, translating market/customer needs into product features that R&D and manufacturing groups can build, and designing strategic marketing plans for product introduction and launch. You can learn more about me at my LinkedIn page.

At the basis of everything that is good in the work of innovation are two of my favorite words in the English language: “What” and “If.” What if?

In the mid-1980s, HP used "What If?” in an incredible marketing campaign in which they talked about understanding their customers’ businesses as the basis of developing products to offer. Novel idea? Not really. Marketing genius? Maybe.

“Problem-solution” methodology has been around for centuries, we can all easily ideate examples. Let’s consider something simple, the wheel. National Geographic’s Concise History of Science & Invention, cites that the wheel was first invented in Mesopotamia around 3500 B.C. Evidence shows they were intended as simple turntables for making pottery. But the simple invention grew into the development of cogs, gearwheels, and pulleys. The waterwheel was an important variation developed by the Greeks in around 85 B.C.—several thousand years later! The flywheel played a key role in the Industrial Revolution—when it was connected to pistons driven by a steam engine, it converted pulses of raw power into smooth movement that could be used to drive machines and power locomotives.

When we consider how many things in our everyday lives in the 21st century utilize a wheel, it is astonishing that a simple discovery has been redesigned again and again to meet the ever changing needs of the world.

We can apply that same concept to the coating, converting, packaging and product decoration industry. We’ve seen simple processes and packaging develop into unique products and manufacturing processes that allow for brand enhancements, growth, and unique product developments.

The intriguing question for me is, ‘What’s next?’ And more intriguing is, ‘How will we get there?’ What if we understand our customers so well that we supply them with the materials they need to serve their customers? What if we redesign how we think, so we can redesign what we make? What if we break down all the old school/not-invented-here barriers and shoot for the moon?

There are countless examples of simple products and innovations making an incredible lasting impact. Research shows there are benchmark practices of the companies that are continually successful at innovation today—tried and true methods to how we must think, organize, develop, invest, and market for success.

I’m looking forward to these—exploring ideas, practices, and success stories—here at PFFC-online, together with you. I welcome your comments, input, and even your challenges. Imagine what we’ll see next when we learn together, we challenge each other and we all embrace a philosophy of “What if?

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