INNOVATE

When Creating a New Innovation Program, Size Matters

Looking to create a new corporate innovation program at your company? Start small to go big.

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BY Karen Holst - 11 Jul 2018

When Creating a New Innovation Program, Size Matters

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

When leaders want to scale and grow their business, they develop internal corporate programs to create a structure that accelerates innovation efforts.

These corporate innovation programs vary in size and opportunity depending on the long-term goals and objectives of the organization. But when starting a new program, it often requires building a prototype or smaller program that can then lead to bigger initiatives down the line.

When you develop an initiative that has room to grow, you create momentum and buy-in from leadership and also allow for the testing of what works and what doesn't.

These four corporate innovation approaches provide the inspiration for launching a new program within your own company. From providing tools to transforming mindsets, they are built to empower your teams to bring new solutions to market.

Provide the Innovation Tools

Innovation begins with access to the right tools that inspire and enable creative problem-solving. Many companies start an innovation program by curating the best innovation tools and resources available for employees to "play" and prototype new ideas.

Hallmark's LEaP Lab allows employees to test the latest hardware, software, and technology to create new products. From 3D printers to a hands-on wood shop, there are resources available for employees to learn, test, and launch their ideas.

If there aren't resources to build a workshop at your company, you can invite teams to offsite locations with new, unexpected tools for employees to try out.

Launch Within Learning and Development

If your company isn't ready for a big investment in supporting new programs, a great place to start is to create something within the Human Resources or Learning and Development departments. These departments encourage employees to find their own learning opportunities, and will often sponsor all or some of the expenses.

GE's BrilliantYOU takes it to the next level. At GE, there is a formal leadership institute where executives can get classroom innovation experience. And available to every GE employee, they launched a series of online learning initiatives through BrilliantYOU. On the platform, employees can log in and gain access to the best online learning programs, right at their desk.

Create an Innovation and Design Lab

Some companies have dedicated teams focused on innovation full- or part-time with the goal of expanding into emerging markets, experimenting with new business models, or launching new products or services.

One method is to invite startups to set up a short-term residence within the company's innovation lab. At BMW's Innovation Lab, successful startups can participate in a ten-week program. The startups get mentorship and collaborate with BMW to test products and services in live customer environments.

Launch an Intrapreneur Program

A popular innovation program for many companies is the internally built intrapreneurship program. These companies create platforms and a structure for employees to ideate and see their ideas launched within the company.

Adobe's Kickbox is a popularly known intrapreneurship program where employees receive $1,000, and a self-contained innovation kit for creating and refining new ideas within Adobe. And they have open-sourced the Kickbox for you to use as a template within your own organizataion.

Innovation requires prototyping, and the innovation program within corporations is no different. Identify the business strategy, create a structure to gain traction, and test and iterate your way forward.

Once you have some wins under your belt, you will be armed and ready for scaling the program beyond.

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