1st company in Latin America with ISO Innovation

Who is the Brazilian MZF4, the first company in Latin America with ISO Innovation
(Cristina Seciuk)

Textile industry member of the Italian group Mazzaferro, with 66 years in Brazil, MZF4 dedicated a year to the project and received, in July, the ISO 56.002. The certification (launched in Europe in April) means that the company’s management system meets international best practices in innovation and creativity. From a practical point of view, it means that the company’s results are better because of the good management of insights, from the encouragement of creativity and the effective application of ideas.

It may seem strange to talk about managing the light bulbs that light up in employees’ heads, but Mazzaferro’s CMO, Fabrício Saad, says that the key to the standard is flexibility. The focus is to put incentive tools into practice, without stifling the search for new ways of designing and selling products. “Through the norm, we created a series of mechanisms that encouraged this movement”, he evaluates. “Today we have an ideas program that every month rewards employees, design thinking spaces for the management body, we created an innovation management committee with people from the market, bringing directors from other companies, customers, suppliers to help us think about innovation in the more strategic point of view”, lists the executive when describing the current environment.

The MZF4 team is encouraged to think of creative solutions for sales and product design. As a stimulus, management solutions were implemented that guaranteed the company a certificate. (Photo: LinkedIn)

Specialized in threads (with an extensive portfolio that includes medical sutures, guitar strings, houseware, color charts for industrial sewing, among other products), MZF4 has 200 employees, exports to more than 60 countries and began the search for certification even before the standard is finalized. Saad, who also works at the postgraduate course at Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing, heard about the discussions in the academic environment and took the challenge to the company.

“I thought that, although we knew about innovation, it would be nice to have specialized support in the ISO procedure, and then we started the journey”, recalls Saad, when telling how MZF4 sought out Palas, a management and innovation consultancy, to start the implementation of the standard still in draft version.

“Real time” construction

According to Alexandre Pierro, specialist in management systems at Palas, “as the standard changed, we also changed the system [at MZF4]. It took almost 12 months of work due to these changes.” This active update work was possible because Pierro himself was part of the ISO 56002 study group in Geneva, Switzerland.

“I have been implementing management systems for over 20 years”, explains Pierro, “I am an auditor in various ISO standards (such as 9001 for quality; 14,001 for the environment; 45,001 for health and safety). Over the years, I have been noticing a series of transformations in different markets. I started to have contact with methodologies such as Design Thinking, Agile Methods, and I decided to inform myself about the institution’s initiatives in the area of ​​innovation”, he reveals, stating that, then, he was surprised by the news that there was a study group researching the best methodologies in the area of ​​innovation in the 163 ISO member countries: “I started to incorporate this study group, representing Brazil”.

“When I became a member, the group was still discussing the concepts and definitions of terms such as innovation, disruption, realization of value, invention, among others. Based on these definitions, the group began to structure and design the technical standard”, explains the specialist. There were three revisions until publication, which took place on July 15, 2019, and it was in the midst of these revisions that MZF4 teamed up with Palas to implement.

According to company’s CMO, Fabrício Saad, MZF4 expects to reach new performance parameters after certification. “You have impacts such as the perception of the market and customers, who start to demand more disruptive things, but we have already had feedback even from the banks”, he reveals. “Every company of some size has an active relationship with the banks and the two banks that two banks that serve us have internally improved our rating as an innovative company. It’s a gain that we didn’t even think about at first”, he celebrates.

It is worth mentioning that the company of the Mazzaferro group was the first, but not the only one to receive the certification. Soon after, other companies from Brazil, Argentina and Colombia also confirmed the receipt of ISO 56.002.

Published in Gazeta do Povo newspaper website in August 13th, 2019: