Goodyear CEO Sees Innovation as Key to Future Prosperity

September 22, 2009

Cites responsiveness, speed and commitment as ingredients for success
 
AKRON, Ohio, September 22, 2009 - In remarks before the 28th Conference on Tire Science and Technology here last week, Robert J. Keegan, chairman and chief executive officer of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, told attendees that a commitment to rapid innovation, aimed at addressing specific consumer needs, provides a significant “competitive advantage.” And, in today’s fast paced and economically challenging environment, it is “critical to a company’s very survival.” 

According to Keegan, in most industries, innovation is exclusively associated with products.  However, he noted that truly progressive companies innovate across the spectrum of business practices from processes and people, to research and development, to supply chain and business continuity.

“Innovation is most often a response to a need,” explained Keegan.  “Once a consumer need is identified, every aspect of a proposed new product, from fundamental technology to product development, from quality and manufacturing through the supply chain should be addressed concurrently.  The result is exponential acceleration of time to market, which is a critical factor in driving prosperous innovation,” he said.

In describing the company’s recently introduced Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max tire, Keegan noted that while the compound, construction and tread design were being developed, Goodyear’s sales and marketing organizations were meeting with retailers and consumers to determine the most effective way to talk about the product, to determine the value proposition for both the seller and the buyer.  According to Keegan, that prepared the company, well in advance of introduction, to begin talking about the product in ways that were both motivating and believable.

“The ingredients of prosperous innovation are basic, but profound,” said Keegan.  “You need to respond to a market need where the addressable market is significant.  You have to be specific and clear on your purpose.  You can’t confuse innovation with novelty.  You also need to work with speed and a sense of urgency.  This requires genuine cross-functional teamwork.  And finally, you need to make the commitment.  Those with total commitment have the best chance of winning,” he said.

Goodyear is one of the world’s largest tire companies.  It employs nearly 70,000 people and manufactures its products in more than 60 facilities in 25 countries around the world.  Its two Innovation Centers in Akron, Ohio and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg strive to develop state-of-the-art products and services that set the technology and performance standard for the industry.  For more information about Goodyear, go to http://corporate.goodyear.com.