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Success Keys from Rubbermaid

By Bob 'Idea Man' Hooey |

We search for ideas to expand our careers and businesses. Often a key to success might just be sitting there un-noticed or un-appreciated. Look around and see how many Rubbermaid products might be in your home or office. My bet, you'll find quite a few.

Rubbermaid is a pretty successful company, generating 2.3 billion in retail sales. Not bad for a company who creates consumable products and take-for-granted ones for a multitude of uses.

Rubbermaid in their own words, seeks to 'Master the mundane.'

They create storage products for the house, the garage, and the patio, anywhere something that needs to be durable, water proof and cost effective.

Their aim in creating all of these 'mundane' products is to promote, “Consumer delight!” They apply the 5 T's in their creative design and discussion process:

  • Trends: Be aware of what is happening in the world.
  • Teams: Harness the power of applied teamwork toward a focused goal.
  • Training: Offer training to equip your teams to succeed.
  • Technology: Acquire and learn technology to make what you do easier and to expand your ability to be creative and innovative.
  • Creative Tension: Tension can be a good thing if applied creatively. Feed the process!
They even have Trend Messengers whose role it is to gather information from around the world around them and share their observations with the rest of their team.

They've developed seven success keys or operating principles, which have helped them reach their present success and will, no doubt continue to do so:

  1. Cross-functional teams are more reliably productive.
  2. Oversight teams, drawn from the Company's top executives, supervise every business unit.
  3. Company wide business councils focus on performance and innovation in such business practices as marketing and design.
  4. Scrutinize market trends by keeping close watch on surface action and digging well beneath the surface for what customers are buying, or would buy.
  5. Don't waste time on run-of-the-mill research. Look for a need, impact and invest $.
  6. Impose creative tension; inspire their people to come up with 'fresh' solutions to new tasks in new environments.
  7. Offer every kind of training, but leave it to individual associates to take advantage of it.

Can you learn from this successful creator of home, garage and industrial products? Can you, like Rubbermaid, investigate the world around you and see opportunities to expand what you offer your clients, and grow to the next level? My guess would be yes! In my creativity and business innovation programs I lead my participants to explore successful companies such as Rubbermaid to dig out transferable ideas, principles and processes that will help them be more successful.

Are you applying, or can you apply some or all of these operating principles in your organization? What would be the response from your team if you did? Would they be more creative and able to explore opportunities for growth and innovation in your process, your products and your services? What do you have to loose? When will you start this process?

Canadian, Eh!

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