It seems to be increasingly dawning on organizations that ideas need to germinate from as many disparate sources as possible, both inside and outside of your organization.
Many are implementing processes to help facilitate that. One such is the computer software company Adobe with their KickStart innovation workshops.
The workshops are two day events, which begin with participants given a red box with $1,000 inside it, together with a host of advice on how to start-up a company, and some coaching to help you on your way.
The events are the brainchild of Mark Randall, a serial entrepreneur and subsequent employee at Adobe, who was tasked with teaching his new colleagues how to innovate.
“We want more disruptive innovation and less planned innovation. To do this, we had to let go. We thought, what if we removed the obstacles that are stopping people from innovating? What if we gave them the resources? There are no rules or constraints. The approach to innovation in KickStart is giving people the permission to go do it.”
The belief is that this process will jolt people out of the status quo that can often prevent them from trying to innovate. Randall hopes that by removing some of the obstacles to innovation, it will allow it to flourish.
I’ve written recently about the apparent fixation with idea generation, often at the expense of implementing those ideas. KickStart aims to overcome that by taking implementation out of the hands of executives, and empowering employees to do their own implementation.
Rather than having to seek approval or write a business case, the process encourages employees to start testing with customers straight away.
“We say, ‘Don’t tell us the idea — just go do it.’ And that was a radical thought.” Randall says, “The fact that we give them $1,000 USD on a prepaid credit card to pursue the idea — no receipts, no expense reporting, no questions asked — that’s empowering.”
The plan is that by testing directly with customers, it gives any proposal much more credibility when it comes time to pitch it internally and attempt to scale the idea up.
Whilst there is undoubted support for each individual, it’s clear that there is clear responsibility given to each of them to run with the ideas they have. It’s a kind of rapid fire experimentation that the company hope will provide both the ideation and the filtration required to surface some great new innovations.
It’s part of a growing trend of companies attempting to support innovation amongst their employees, and to encourage the more radical thinkers in their midst to share their opinions.
Will it work? Only time will tell.