What Rewards Have You Offered Employees for Developing an MVP?

April 13, 2018

In a recent Q&A email, an IL member from a global financial services company asked the following: 

“What rewards have you offered employees who develop a viable proof of concept (POC) or minimum viable product (MVP)? Have you offered cash rewards, visibility within the company, or other opportunities?”

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Money and Recognition

An executive from the healthcare industry says, “We’ve only done this domestically, but we have issued stock in the value of $10,000 for the winner of an innovation competition. We also promote the top ideas internally across our communications channels and recognized the winner at an All Hands meeting.”

Another respondent from the healthcare industry, who has worked at both large and small companies, explained how rewards have been given throughout his career. At his current company and at a recent position, he said no rewards had been given for a proof of concept or an MVP.However, employees involved in creating patentable ideas would receive awards:

“Rewards are given for those who become a submitted patent application author. This was in the amount of $1,000 at one company, and $100 with a plaque of the patent at another company. … At both large companies and startups [that I’ve worked for], employees who innovated were known by management, given more visibility, and selected to work on future, leading edge R&D.”

Another respondent, who works at a prominent US bank, simply said that employees at her company are offered “money and recognition.”

A Tiered System

An executive from the agriculture industry explains, “We have done special awards, such as recognition for a POC—but on ad-hoc basis. Some of the POCs have received external magazine and show awards. We have primarily focused our innovation awards around patents and [first-use] filings with the government patent office (in a given country) as a criteria.”

  • We offer a very small cash incentive for every patent idea received, provided it is accepted by the patent committee for basic quality (e.g. dinner certificate, company item, etc.).
  • Each idea then gets rated for technical novelty, patentability and future business impact. Our IP team makes final determination as to which ideas to file for a patent. For each idea filed, we offer a slightly bigger incentive for each inventor (e.g. gift card).
  • All patent applicants are in the pool for site and regional innovation awards at the end of every calendar year. … Site award winners get recognized at local departmental or company events (plus small gifts). Regional awards are topmost recognition and get mentioned on our global sites. [These receive] substantial gifts such as an iPad. We also fly out regional winners and spouses to corporate headquarters as part of Chairman’s Award Celebrations.
  • There are no cash incentives after a patent is granted. Employees agree to this upfront when they submit ideas to our company.
  • We have created a Patent Wall at the entrance of each engineering center and a Master Inventor section for people who have applied for 10 or more patents while being employed at our company. We have found that in most cases the innovators are interested in recognition and are excited when their patents and/or concepts are adopted into product designs. There is a pride associated with both these things and that is the main incentive!

No Rewards, Just Challenges

A respondent from the energy and utilities sector says, “We have been successful offering challenges (not rewards). Our challenge program allows folks the time to solve a problem they identify.”

  • Recognition up the chain: Executives attend the report-out of their project.
  • Resume bullets: The projects translate well to promotion opportunities.
  • Next-level challenges: The best become part of our program’s core team.