Timberland Case Study



The Timberland Company is a highly successful shoe and clothing manufacturer whose strategy and structure have changed drastically over its history. Formed in 1952, by Nathan Swartz, the company’s initial success was driven by radical innovation, such as the production of the first truly waterproof pair of work boots. However, as they grew in size, Timberland moved away from this game changing innovation strategy, to place more focus on specific consumer markets with the creation of in-line teams. Timberland was eventually convinced to return to its innovative roots following the difficulty in implementing a new idea known as Smart Comfort, as a result of the fashion oriented business structure. They achieved this through the creation of a separate department known as the Invention Factory (dubbed iF), who would act as idea generators and concept designers. Whilst placing focus once again on the generation of game changing innovations to retain organisational success, iF has a number of detrimental impacts which inhibit its effectiveness. These faults lie in the areas of cultural misalignment, lack of strategic clarity, organisational structure, failure to create social capital, and integration of innovative ideas into the mainstream in-line teams. It is necessary for Timberland to address these issues to maintain their long-term success.

Cultural Misalignment

Since 2002, Timberland has been separated into the following distinctive departments; Inline Team, Speed Team and Advanced Concept Team (iF). The in-line teams would remain organised by consumer segments and focus on products in the seasonal calendar as well as focus heavily on global consumer segmentation and brand marketing. The speed team was formed to handle responsiveness for products that could be placed on a shorter calendar, developed quickly and immediately sent to market. iF had a longer time horizon which focused on new ideas requiring longer development, new factory...