One of the missions of Chemists Corner is to teach and inspire scientists in the cosmetic industry to become more innovative. The personal care and cosmetic products of today have changed only slightly in the last 20 years. This is primarily because new product development is led by Marketing and Market Research groups rather than by cosmetic chemists. New stories drive innovation rather than new technologies.
But cosmetic chemists and R&D departments can change this. They can take responsibility for innovation and focus on solving real problems in new ways. Changing color, fragrance and packaging may be innovative to Marketing departments but it is not the kind of innovation that solves cosmetic problems. This type of “real” innovation can only come from people who know cosmetic science.
Unfortunately, innovation is not a topic that is part of most undergraduate science programs. You’ll need to study the subject on your own to get better at it. One way to do that is to keep up on innovation blogs, read books, and attend continuing education courses. However, ultimately the way to be innovative is to DO SOMETHING. Identify problems you want to solve, generate ideas, conduct experiments, and play in the lab. No doubt you are “too busy”, everyone is. Make it a priority and you’ll find the time.
For some innovation inspiration, the Heart of Innovation blog put up this article about 50 ways to make your culture more innovative. Here are a few that are most relevant to a cosmetic chemist.
3. Have more fun. If you’re not having fun (or at least enjoying the process) something is off.
4. Always question authority, especially the authority of your own longstanding beliefs.
9. Ask questions about everything. After asking questions, ask different questions. After asking different questions, ask them in a different way.
18. Encourage people to get out of their offices and silos. Encourage people to meet informally, one-on-one, and in small groups.
27. Make customers your innovation partners, while realizing that customers are often limited to incremental innovations, not breakthrough ones.
35. A great source of new ideas are people that are new to the company. Get new hires together and tap their brainpower and imagination.
What have you done to make yourself more innovative? Leave a comment below and let us know.