Engaging in innovation is a no-brainer for David Novak, the CEO of Yum! Brands. Being a part of the food business, he says consumers always want to try new things. And to be better at being innovative, he says a CEO needs to be externally focused. This means looking outside of your company, recognizing what others are doing successfully, and learning from them. Novak shares an example to drive his point home. He recalls a time when he was working with Frito Lay, and he decided to lead his team into a supermarket to see what was working in other food categories. At the time, the ‘ranch’ flavor was the main driver in salad dressing sales. That’s when Novak’s light bulb turned on – he decided to use the successful flavor on the Doritos line of chips. This idea birthed ‘Cool Ranch’ Doritos. Another time, Novak says he was searching for ideas to freshen up Pizza Hut’s offerings. When specialty pizzas were on the rise, he decided Pizza Hut would compete with a specialty pizza of its own, called the “Pepperoni Lover’s” pizza. By simply doubling the amount of pepperoni on a pizza, Pizza Hut was able to deliver one of its most successful new products. Of course, this “Lover’s” line of pizzas is still available and flourishing at Pizza Hut today. Despite these successes, Novak is credited for introducing what has been dubbed one of the greatest mistakes – Crystal Pepsi. Even though he believes it was a great idea, Novak says it flopped because of poor execution. And he has himself to blame. In his book, “Taking People with You”, Novak admits his regrets of getting people involved, but not listening to them.
Find out more about innovation from David Novak, CEO of Yum! Brands in our video interview.