Jim Stengel spoke to bakers at the 2018 ABA Convention.

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — All too often, established companies focus on execution rather than acting like disruptive start-up businesses in the marketplace. That’s why so many legacy corporations — including many Fortune 500 ones — find themselves slowly reacting to a quickly changing world, said business consultant author Jim Stengel, former global marketing officer at Procter & Gamble. 

Speaking at the recently held American Bakers Association’s annual convention, Mr. Stengel outlined how businesses need to reinvent their organizations and cultures to better engage consumers and differentiate their brands from the competition.

In conducting research for his book, Mr. Stengel studied why the top companies thrive and others don’t. Overall, he noted that the most successful businesses that center their brands around the concept of improving people’s lives resonate more with consumers — and outperform their category competitors.

Mr. Stengel is the author of Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World's Greatest Companies.

“What we found is that they are driven by a strong sense of purpose and have an extremely customer-centric culture,” observed Mr. Stengel, who wrote “Unleashing the Innovators: How Mature Companies Find Life with Startups.”

Mr. Stengel highlighted one of his most significant milestones during his tenure at Procter & Gamble — namely turning around the struggling Pampers disposable diaper brand in the late 1990s by transforming the business into a baby care brand that provided mothers with assistance in guiding the development of their infant children across the globe.

Mr. Stengel encouraged bakers to get inspired from the outside by being more externally focused and developing alliances with entrepreneurial companies to spark risk-taking and innovation. He recalled how he steered Procter & Gamble on to significant insights after he reached out to Google in its infancy and decided on an employee exchange between the giant consumer packaged goods company and what was then a mere search-engine start-up.

He also challenged bakers to focus on connecting with consumers to create an experience that will provide them with a service and memories of special occasions rather than just selling products to them. 

“You (bakers) play such a significant role in so many millions of moments of glee and joy every day, and that is just a marvelous,” he said.