Case | HBS Case Collection | January 2006 (Revised February 2008)

Innovation at Timberland: Thinking Outside the Shoe Box

by Rosabeth M. Kanter and Ryan Raffaelli

Abstract

Innovation was linked to Timberland's heritage. In 2005, CEO Jeff Swartz and COO Ken Pucker hoped the Invention Factory, an advanced concept lab, would develop new breakthrough products and reinvigorate the company's culture of innovation. Since the 1960s, Timberland had relied on innovation, developing the world's first waterproof boot and, in the 1980s, category-defining boat shoes and day hiking boots. Creating variations of these core products, along with expansion into apparel, had sustained Timberland's business for more than 30 years. Timberland's growth in the past six years was due to increased international sales and new customer segments. As Timberland's leaders looked to the future, they hoped Doug Clark, a biomechanist, and his Invention Factory team would bring a scientific approach toward building the next generation of Timberland products and ideas. The team had to convince those in the mainstream business to accept their new ideas and integrate them back into the product line.

Keywords: Innovation and Management; Growth and Development Strategy; Product Development; Organizational Culture; Science-Based Business;

Citation:

Kanter, Rosabeth M., and Ryan Raffaelli. "Innovation at Timberland: Thinking Outside the Shoe Box." Harvard Business School Case 306-064, January 2006. (Revised February 2008.)