Recap: June 3rd Courageous Minds Only Fireside Chat On Disruption in Food & Beverage | The Garage Group

Recap: June 3rd Courageous Minds Only Fireside Chat On Disruption in Food & Beverage

During our most recent Courageous Minds Only Virtual Fireside Chat, we sat down with Brigette Wolf, Global Head of SnackFutures at Mondelez, to discuss all things related to disruption in food and beverage. We chatted about the evolution of SnackFutures, Mondelez’s innovation and venture hub or “nose of the dog,” as Brigette calls it. She highlighted key learnings, pivots, and accelerations on innovation in snacking and wellness, creating agile teams, and practicing courageous leadership in times of uncertainty. Take a look at some highlights from the conversation below.


The Evolution of SnackFutures

“We call ourselves an “independent innovation and venture hub.” We had two big pillars of work that we started with: one was to think and behave like startups, so that was an incredible kind of foundational piece. The other pillar that we had was around venture. So investing in the next generation of entrepreneurs and partnerships and capabilities. Our vision, at its easiest level was to disrupt snacking and to bring the next generation of wellbeing brands. And so that was probably the first piece we knew to be in an area that was incremental to the core of the business was going to be really important, so wellbeing was a very clear white space for us to go into.”


Personal Enablers for Success 

“I think as a personal passion of being able to give consumers more choice, it’s afforded me the ability to “fight for innovation.” You fight for what’s right, and what’s difficult to address to keep things going. In a personal sense, I love being able to have more of our portfolio have choices. I would say it’s taught me the past couple years to really allow your teams, who are truly close to the consumer and the project to hold their focus and own it and be able to make decisions… The more comfortable you are in your skin as a leader, and you will see this. And then it was where I try to emulate– don’t cling to power, release it and then everyone’s grows and their knowledge base grows.”


Helping the Consumer Along 

“There’s always a different style diet, but for some people there’s real long lasting health benefits there. I think the discovery around different types of functionality and ingredients, partly because we’re seeing seismic disruptions with what’s going on with climate change to our food supply that unearthing and discovering news sources of food, forget about functionality might just be a bit of a survival piece at some point, or we become better at farming. So I think that’s where it actually becomes interesting to see is like, where is there a long-term piece?”


Changes, Accelerations, and Key Takeaways from COVID


It really forced me as a leader to ask, “What are the priorities?” What are the things we absolutely must do right now? And what are the things that frankly were nice to have, but needs to wait? We had just put Dirt Kitchen and CaPao into brick and mortar stores, and we were rolling those out in that way. When March 17th came and everyone shut down, we had all sorts of inventory and we still needed to sell a need to learn what was working with these bundles. Within weeks, we learned how to set up DTC sites. We had the websites built, but they weren’t built to the selling entities. And that was the very first pivot was, ‘How quickly?’”


Training Leaders to Be Agile 

“We’re having to retrain some of those skills, to be honest. The growth mindset is this ability to generate hypotheses, experiment, learn to let go of control, to do more with your intuition and less with data. And this is going to sound really trite, but trusting. A lot of big organizations have been built on hierarchy and power and layers of, I need this approval and this approval and this approval, it takes forever, and it starts becoming this telephone game frankly, of leadership, because then they come back and do all those strategic shifts that now have to you’ve now Frankensteined your product or bundle. So I think it’s encouraging them to be curious, to embrace risk. We are very much around managing risk and mitigating it.”


Making Space for the Team to Take Ownership

“I would say if you are a manager, one is check yourself, you know, where is your risk aversion or level, and what are you willing to let your team do without you being in the room? What decisions are you going to let them make that you don’t need? And then the question is, can you even see if you can take one of those one or two of those items off that, or add to the list that you don’t have to be in the room for? So that would be a piece of just checking yourself. Am I giving my team the space that their wings can spread?”


Cultivating Staying Power

“I would say being explicit and upfront about what is the remit of what we are and what we’re not, how long it’s going to take, and setting some very clear expectations that not everything will work. We don’t know what we’re doing in all cases. We’re building and laying those railroad tracks and so having a set expectation that we need a level of flexibility that we’re not going to be so rigid in what we said is what you’re going to see in six months, even within projects , we are very clear of the early prototypes may look like nothing, the concepts may be nothing that what ultimately goes to market to allow that fluidity and iteration.”


Ways of Being Inspired 

“Read about other industries because that’s where you get inspiration. Having that piece because it will just make you a better problem solver versus looking at the same situation and always going back to the same method. One of my favorite words is ‘reimagine.’ How do we reimagine everything we do? Think of it that way.”


Watch the full recording here >>>


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