Innovation doesn’t have to suffer when employees go virtual. Done right, it can even improve.
The 90-year-oldRadio Flyerfactory in Chicago is an exemplar of on-site innovation. Brainstorming takes place in the Engine Room, which is awash in whiteboards and Post-it notes. CNC machines and 3-D printers chug away in the Prototype Shop. In the bright, airy Play Lab, staff members observe children scooting around on the company’s newest children’s wagons, trikes, and electric cars. “Our products are very physical,” says Robert Pasin, CEO of the business his grandfather founded in 1917. “We need to see and touch them. We need to see kids riding them.”
Radio Flyer–with annual revenues in the $150 million range–reliably develops 20 to 30 new products each year. In 2020, with the company’s 80-some employees dispersed to their homes as a result of Covid, it maintained that pace with 25. Designers and engineers adopted…
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