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Tap bright outsiders for fresh ideas

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

In the cosmetics business, the push for new products never ends. Consumers clamor for breakthroughs.

As CEO of Sephora Americas, Calvin McDonald has made innovation a top priority. In March 2016, he launched the Sephora Innovation Lab.

Based in San Francisco, the lab enables the French-owned cosmetics chain to conduct research with the help of outside partners. The goal is to create a space where employees can collaborate and test ideas without fear of failure.

McDonald says he set up the lab to “tap the collective creativity of our 14,000 employees nationwide, grow the next generation of leaders and elevate Sephora’s digital future.” It builds on the company’s popular series of mobile apps such as Pocket Contour, which analyzes customers’ faces and provides advice on contouring.

To make an even greater splash, McDonald decided to invite eight high-powered entrepreneurial women to join Sephora’s team in its new lab. The eight female innovators, all of whom have founded beauty firms, will receive extensive funding and other support from Sephora to pursue their ideas.

McDonald’s moves to spur innovation provide a blueprint for other leaders. For starters, bringing in creative outsiders to work with your internal team. Pooling expertise can produce broader perspectives and better results.

— Adapted from “Sephora’s High-Tech, Social Justice Case For Cosmetics,” www.pymnts.com.

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