Baxi innovates with sand, pebbles and rocks

As part of an initiative to develop and clarify its approach to innovation, and to help engage its whole business in the innovation process, UK-based manufacturing firm Baxi implemented an innovation management platform from HYPE Innovation. Since its launch in mid-2016, Baxi’s “Xchange” platform has hosted 15 challenge-based campaigns, either targeting specific groups or open to all employees. The company runs three types of innovation campaigns, which the innovation team classifies as “sand”, “pebbles” and “rocks”.

Case study key facts

Organisation Baxi, a leading manufacturer of smart heating and hot water solutions across the UK employing 1,600 people.
Industry Manufacturing
Current goals Baxi wanted to improve the understanding among employees and leaders of what it means to be innovative, and to drive a renewed investment in enabling innovation, in support of the company’s newly-defined values and mission.
Current approach The company decided to implement an innovation management solution, rolling it out to everyone across the business. The platform – called Xchange – provides a vehicle for running challenge-based innovation campaigns that focus on enterprise-wide and local priorities to support a continuous improvement strategy.
Outcome In the 14 months since the launch of Xchange, Baxi has captured more than 670 ideas across 15 campaigns, with participation and engagement from right across the organisation. Of these, 29 ideas have been implemented and a further 21 selected for implementation, delivering both efficiency improvements and enhancements to the working environment at Baxi, While the programme has not yet matured to the point where it is attacking big strategic problems or delivering clear revenue benefits yet, these are central to the longer-term ambitions for Baxi’s innovation team.
Tools and suppliers used HYPE Innovation

Organisation background

With its roots dating back 150 years, UK-based Baxi is a leading manufacturer of smart heating and hot water solutions for both domestic and commercial customers across the UK. Operating as part of the BDR Thermea Group, Baxi owns nine major brands, including Main Heating, Megaflo, Potterton, Remeha, Andrews Water Heaters and Heatrae Sadia. Baxi employs 1,600 people across five sites located in Warwick (where its headquarters are based), Dublin, Norwich, Preston and Wokingham.

BDR Thermea Group was formed in 2009 following the merger of Baxi Group and De Dietrich Remeha Group. As a privately-held business, the group employs 6,500 staff and operates in more than 82 countries, with strongholds in Europe, Turkey, Russia, the United States and China. It has combined annual sales of 1.7 billion, with a product portfolio that includes biomass boilers, solar thermal solutions and heat pumps.

Project background and drivers

Through its background as a manufacturing firm, innovation has always been a central tenet of Baxi’s business, at least at a product level. However, in 2013 when the company launched a new mission, vision and set of values – one of which was “Our innovative approach means we support creativity, embrace change and are willing to learn” – it became clear that this was not as straightforward a concept as expected.

As part of the launch programme, everyone across Baxi’s business took part in a series of workshops designed to communicate and embed the new approach. In leading several of the workshops focused on innovation, David Willetts, GM of Baxi Genuine Parts division, realised that people at all levels struggled to fully understand what was meant by “being innovative”, and what was expected of them as a result. More work was needed to clarify and articulate the practical implications of this new value, particularly because of its consequences in terms of the way people needed to treat new ideas, and also the way that teams were led.

In early 2015, David decided to investigate the area of innovation, researching other organisations’ initiatives and exploring Baxi’s own understanding and acceptance of the concept more deeply. This research uncovered two interesting findings:

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