Shopping Center Business

MAY 2016

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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INNOVATION 278 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • May 2016 what you do every day impacts how the company does overall. Another element of our culture is to create learning oppor- tunities for our associates. We didn't want our associates to be stagnant within the company. Our associates are in a contin- uous learning environment; the company pushes people that way by creating new opportunities for them to grow and take on new positions. SCB: Let's talk about PECO Innovation Labs. That is part of that continuous edu- cation for your associates. How does the program work? Edison: As I mentioned, we were at a point where we had done things the same way for a long time, and gotten very good and efficient at those things. We had reached a point where we needed to be significantly more innovative in how we approached problems if we were going to grow to the next step as an organiza- tion. That would demand that our asso- ciates learn to be more innovative. That sounds like talk, but we wanted that in- grained in the way they think and in how they approach the business everyday. We started off by talking about innovation at our company's annual meeting and we created side meetings where we would talk about innovation, but none of them went where we wanted them to go. We took a hard look at how to create this in our organization and came up with a model that would push it throughout the company and into our associates' thought processes. With Westminster College in Salt Lake City, we developed PECO Inno- vation Labs. That is a program that brings people together to learn the academics of innovation, the practical applications of innovation and the practicality of working in a cross-functional team to reach a deci- sion. We launched the first PECO Innova- tion Lab at the beginning of 2015. It start- ed at an off-site retreat at Blue Sky Ranch in Utah for 14 associates from different parts of the organization. Westminster College ran a program on innovation for them. We had a number of team building exercises tied into that. At the end of that program, we gave those 14 associates a real problem to solve. That issue was how to create more community in our commu- nity centers. We have over 300 shopping centers in 37 states; we have to connect our centers to the communities. Their task was to figure out how to do that. The group spent a lot of time — in addition to their day jobs — working on that project. They came up with what we thought was a really great result and presented a formal action plan to senior management. As a result of that one task, we ended up hiring a vice president-level associate to take that program over and we are actively working on implementing their solution. I will also add that in addition to the great solution that we received to our problem, we also have 14 associates from different offices and different areas who are better team- mates and better friends. That helps the rest of the company because it creates a new level of communication. A recent PECO NOW wine education event. PECO sponsors a number of employee events, like a company-wide Health Wellness Week.

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