The departure of a manager at Latexco turned into a strategic exercise on innovation. The company wants its employees to play a leading role in the approach. The manufacturer analysed the innovation potential of employees with the objective & research based assessment tool from

Latexco is a manufacturer of latex components for mattresses. In addition, the company recently developed into a one-stop shop for the bedding industry. Innovation, sustainability, quality and reliability are central to the company's strategy. One of the plant managers was the leader of the of the innovation projects within Latexco. When he left, the company had to reconsider its approach to innovation.

"We quickly made a number of decisions. Because of our recent diversification in activities, we wanted a broader base of support for innovation in our company.

We also wanted to take a more process-oriented approach towards innovation. This is necessary to strengthen and expand our position on the market. Innovation must also enhance our efforts on sustainability. In doing so, our approach must be carried throughout the entire company.” says Ann Vanderschaeghe, HR Director of Latexco.

Creax and Ghent University

The company contacted to help with an objective inventory of the innovative skills of the employees of the company. The was developed by Creax in collaboration with the University of Ghent University. Professor Frederik Anseel and his team of the Department of Industrial and Behavioral Sciences conducted the theoretical research into the innovation skills needed in a team. Thanks to the cooperation with Creax, he was immediately able to have it validated by a series of innovation experts from companies. An algorithm determines the level of those skills in an in an objective manner from the answers from the participants. The scientific research & innovation practices come together in a situational judgement test in which the participants have to judge 15 situations. On the basis of the answers, the tool can detect twenty skills that are needed for innovation. So it is not the participants who assess themselves but how they would resolve the 15 situations linked to innovation.

"When the CEO of Latexco and myself talked about this with Peter Daels of, we were quickly convinced of their solution. It gave us the chance to look in an objective way for the innovative talents amongst our own employees. At this moment already 76 of our employees in Belgium and Spain have already completed the innovation assessment. This number will increase further when our American colleagues are also taken into account. These are primarily employees and managers from the various departments of the company, including sales, hr, finance and all the other department. The assessment is not limited to those employees who deal with the chemical and production techniques", says Ann Vanderschaeghe.

Enthusiasm for innovation

She is now preparing the individual assessments of the employees involved. "We hold annual evaluations anyway and this year we will also discuss the results of the assessment at the same time. After this initial assessment I notice an increased level of enthusiasm for innovation amongst our employees. People are asking us spontaneously for feedback and I am sure we will find enough employees to work with us on our strategic project. We now know their innovative talents and how their level compares to each other but also in comparison to an external benchmark. I have to admit that, even for me, it was often a surprise to find out which employees and managers have the most innovative capabilities", says Ann Vanderschaeghe.

Dream team

Peter Daels, managing director of "Very often these employees do not know that themselves because we are using a new method where people have little to no experience with. The research of prof. Anseel has shown that innovation is a combination of three basic competences: ideation, championing and implementation. The core of an innovation team therefore always consists of employees who possess these competences on an expert level. This team is supplemented by innovation contributors, partners and masters, including a number of functional experts who know the subject matter very well, but do not necessarily have an innovative mindset."

From the results of the assessment, Peter Daels concludes that Latexco already has several employees with strong all-round innovation profile. Moreover, they are spread across the various departments of the company. "So it is today already possible to set up a strong & complementary team including a person, who is strong enough to take up the lead of that innovation dream team", says Peter Daels. The lesser news for Latexco is that, compared to other companies, it has fewer innovation specialists.


"We are assuming that additional training can further strengthen innovation skills.” Says Ann Vanderschaeghe. will be launching their online training in March of this year and Latexco will be one of its first users.

With that analysis in its pocket, Latexco must now make decisions about the next steps. Ann Vanderschaeghe: "The people from pointed out to us that putting the team together is not even the hardest part. The important thing now is to give these people dedicated time and space to devote to devote themselves to the innovation projects."

"True. All too often, the team must work on their innovation project simultaneously with their daily operational activities. In such a constellation, the present always wins out over the future. You really need to set up a structure where the innovation team has dedicated time to work and focus exclusively on their innovation project", says Peter Daels.

Who is Latexco?

Latexco is a family business that has been developing latex, technical PU foams and springs for the bedding industry for over 60 years. Latexco has come a long way in that time, starting from a small family business in Tielt, Belgium, to become a business with a global presence. Today we employ over 600 people worldwide. The entrepreneurial spirit from the early days has never disappeared. We’ve grown, and we’ve grown up. Our organization has evolved and professionalized accordingly.

Our solid reputation for high-quality latex along with a strong focus on the development of specific technical PU foams and springs enable us to be a one-stop-shop for customized sleeping comfort. Thanks to our worldwide geographic spread we strive to be the preferred partner to design the unique sleeping experience every bedding company around the globe is looking for.

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