Articles & Case Studies by Topic

Ideation, Prototyping & Pilots

Topic Overview: Ideation & Prototyping

If forced to confront the reality of where ideas come from and how they’re prototyped, most companies would admit that at least two of these things are true:

  1. Too few people in the organization are invited to come up with ideas.
  2. The standards for evaluating ideas are inconsistent, or overly political.
  3. It takes too long, or costs to much, to build a prototype that can be tested with customers.

Our coverage of ideation and prototyping focuses on ways that companies are inviting a wider population of employees to develop ideas, sifting those ideas for the best ones, and getting to a prototype or “minimum viable product” quickly. Two related topic areas on Innovation Leader are Employee Engagement and Innovation Methodologies.

Editor's Picks: Recommended articles on ideation and prototyping
Innovation Leader Live

Our live conference calls that have focused on ideation and prototyping:

Downloadable resources shared by our members

Relevant documents from our Resource Center, shared by members:

  • Adobe: Innovation Scorecard
    Scorecard for ideas proposed as part of Adobe's internal Kickbox Innovation Workshops. Considers factors like customer value, company fit, and risk level. Good, clear definitions of things like "addressable market size" and "fit with brand."
  • Liberty Mutual: Innovation Ideation Session
    A guide to the company's 90-minute brainstorm session, including rules and exercises.
  • MTD: Innovation Process and Template
    The company's "Advanced Concept Ideation Template," outlining its brainstorming process and idea development.
  • Reliant: Idea Dash
    A document outlining the company's idea challenge, called Idea Dash, including a 10-week timeline, key activities, and awards.
  • Seyfarth Shaw: Idea Submission Form
    A four-page form for employees to submit ideas to the law firm’s innovation committee.
  • Tata Communications: Innovation Engine
    Overview of the challenges facing the $3 billion telecom firm, and the "Shape the Future" program that Tata runs to solicit and cultivate employee ideas.
  • United Airlines: Intrapreneur Friendly
    Information on how United has created an "intrapreneur-friendly" environment; the scorecard it uses to evaluate ideas; and how the innovation program is structured.
  • Viacom18: Innovation Portal
    A document outlining how the Indian media company implemented an idea collection system, including vendor selection, promotion to employees, outcomes, and future challenges.
All Innovation Leader articles & case studies on ideation and prototyping:

Chick-fil-A’s Hatch Innovation Center and the Future of Fast-Food

“How do we continue to grow at such a positive rate when our processes and our physical restaurants have maxed capacity?” asks Michael McCathren, who leads enterprise innovation at Chick-fil-A. To come up with answers to that question, innovators throughout the company gather at Hatch—the hub for innovation at Chick-fil-A. Under one roof, teams from both headquarters and the company’s franchise operators design solutions to common problems in the business.

How a Team of Coca-Cola Engineers Created the Soda Fountain of the Future

The inside story how how a skunkworks team of Coca-Cola engineers created the Freestyle soda fountain back in 2007 — and what they did for a second act.

An ‘Office of New Urban Mechanics’ that Nudges City Government to Take Risks

Boston’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, created in 2010, is a civic innovation incubator and a research-and-development lab. But beyond that, it’s also the city’s “risk team, the failure team,” says co-founder Nigel Jacob. Innovation Leader spoke with Jacob to get his advice for other urban innovators.

How Truck Manufacturer PACCAR is Innovating for the Long Haul

When Elon Musk first teased the all-electric Tesla Semi in 2017, he said “This will be a very spry truck. You can drive this around like a sports car.” We’ll have to wait until later this year to see if that statement holds up, but what’s clear now is that Tesla isn’t alone in the ring of companies experimenting with electric, autonomous, and smarter commercial vehicles. We sat down with Kyle Quinn, CTO at the truck manufacturer PACCAR to learn about the company’s innovation focuses, what technology his team is pursuing, and how he approaches being PACCAR’s first CTO.

Inside Sam’s Club Now, an ‘Incubator Store’ in Dallas for Testing New Retail Concepts

The Sam’s Club “incubator store” in Dallas has been rigged with 700 cameras, about 400 Bluetooth locator beacons, robotics, computer vision, and a host of other technologies aimed at enhancing the retail experience while also making visits more efficient. It was created as a platform for “testing out hypotheses” about what’s possible, explains Keri Voke, a Product Manager for Innovation at Sam’s Club. We drop by for a visit.

Cisco’s Model for a Bootcamp that Brings Multiple Companies Together to Innovate

Cisco executive Kate O’Keeffe explains the format of the company’s 48-hour “living lab” program, which brings together representatives of multiple companies to explore an opportunity area together. So far, these living labs have led to two startups, seven patent applications, and over 20 internal growth initiatives. In an interview with Innovation Leader, O’Keeffe discussed CHILL’s founding, the structure of the two-daylong journey, and the importance of getting senior leaders into the room.

Q&A: What Software Do You Use for Managing Ideas?

In a recent Q&A email, a member of the Innovation Leader community asked the following question: “What software do you use for managing ideas — specifically, dealing with an idea backlog? Why did you choose this software?” See the responses inside…

How $10B Corning Focuses R&D Efforts — and the Four Places Its New Ideas Come From

“We talk about ‘technology push’ versus ‘technology pull,'” says Christie McCarthy of Corning. “You can have a very elegant value proposition built on all the reasons why this product should work. But if the customer doesn’t care, then it doesn’t matter.” Inside, McCarthy explains where the customer fits in as a source of ideas at the $10 billion materials and optics company.

Leveraging the Power of Crowds to Enhance Design Thinking

Crowdsourcing should take place before a design session, contends Pfizer exec Daniel Seewald. In fact, it can be the difference between a mediocre session and a high impact one. Seewald explains the three ways that crowdsourcing can be helpful…

Tackling The Wicked Problem: L’Oreal VP on the Effective Use of Design Thinking in Business

Jackson Wang shares his advice on the most effective ways to use design thinking, highlighting lessons from his work as VP of Retail Design at L’Oreal and Procter & Gamble.

Webcast Replay: Navi Radjou on How You Can Implement Frugal Innovation

Navi Radjou, whose TED talk on frugal innovation has garnered over 1.6 million views, explains some of the values driving the phenomenon, and answers questions from webcast participants. “Frugal innovation is a strategy more than a concept,” Radjou says. “It’s a way of creating more economic and also social value using fewer resources. It is the ability to do a lot more with a lot less.” Includes a three-minute excerpt and the full 30-minute webcast…

Startup Studios: Snake Oil or Elixir for the Corporate Innovator?

Startup studios are gaining traction as a tool to help corporate business leaders fill in the blanks of a certain project. But will this strategy help innovators overcome enterprise challenges? Former Nike and Intel exec Rick Waldron makes the case…

Webcast Replay: Advice on Piloting and Scaling New Ideas in Healthcare

Few industries are as regulated, as quality-oriented, and as populated by busy professionals as healthcare. So how do you make time to source, evaluate, pilot, and scale new ideas? How do you set the right metrics and milestones, and kill projects that aren’t hitting them? Leaders from Anthem, Pulse@MassChallenge, and Boston Children’s Hospital share their advice in this recent webcast….

Nurturing New Ideas About Food at Campbell Soup Company

One of the core values at Campbell Soup Company is “own it like a founder.” This message is plastered on the walls throughout the company’s headquarters in Camden, NJ, along with the message of “dare to disrupt.” The disruptive innovation team at Campbell’s utilizes a variety of other tactics to harness innovation throughout the company. Megan Bozzelli, Disruptive Innovation Manager at Campbell Soup Company, walked us through some of the ways her team works to achieve these goals.

Putting Emerging Technologies to the Test in a 12,000-Employee Hospital System

How do you innovate in an environment where everyone is busy, and everything is legitimately an emergency? John Halamka, Chief Information Officer for Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a practicing emergency room physician, shares his advice on bringing new technologies into a large healthcare organization — and discusses some of the projects he has worked on recently with Amazon and Google.

How Campbell’s Soup Launched a New ‘Buy One, Give One’ Product

Direct-to-consumer products are rare at Campbell’s Soup. Here’s a look at how the Soulfull Project launched one.

How Dow Jones is Innovating in an era of ‘Fake News’ and Information Overload

Few media companies are doing more to address the challenges facing their industry than Dow Jones, part of $8 billion News Corp. Dow Jones recognizes that its relationship with new gatekeepers like Facebook and Google — as well as new information delivery technologies like augmented reality glasses or Amazon’s Alexa — will define its future. We talk with Chief Innovation Officer Edward Roussel about his top priorities.

Why Bissell Homecare Turned to Crowdfunding for a New Product Launch

Bissell Homecare is best known for making cleaning equipment for floors and upholstery. But Chuck Martin was convinced that the pet care sector offered new growth opportunities. Here’s how he launched the company’s first dog grooming product, with an assist from crowdfunding site Indiegogo.

How David Lee is Bringing New Innovation Energy and Programs to $60B UPS

As part of our IL Live series of conference calls, we recently spoke with David Lee, UPS’s Vice President of Innovation. Lee also oversees the Strategic Enterprise Fund, UPS’ corporate investing arm. “My personal view on strategy and innovation,” Lee says, “is that an innovation strategy needs to be about pathways and mechanisms and partners and channels. It is less about, ‘What should you be doing,’ because in some ways the market, your customers, and your executive leadership can tell you that.” More inside…

How Home Depot is Building the Future of Retail with AI, Google, and VR

The $95 billion retailer is exploring new technologies like artificial intelligence and voice-driven search, as well as running design sprints and building minimum viable products, with an eye toward creating a more “interconnected” shopping experience between stores and the online world. Prat Vemana, VP of Online, explains how the company is working to make in-store and online shopping seamless for customers. Includes slides from a recent presentation on artificial intelligence…

Video: Robin Beers of Wells Fargo on 5 Principles of Rapid Prototyping — and Which One is the Toughest

Robin Beers heads the Customer Experience and Insight Teams for Wells Fargo’s B2B business. She explains the five principles of rapid prototyping, including “show, don’t tell,” “get customer feedback,” and “document your decisions.” Beers says one of them is harder than the others…

Webcast Replay: Building MVPs to Get Products to Market Fast

Learn the latest tactics on rapid prototyping and market-testing new digital offerings in this 45-minute webcast, led by Bob Klein of Digital Scientists.

What’s a Minimum Viable Innovation Team, and How Can It Drive Innovation?

How do you put a strategic innovation strategy in place if you’ve got a shoestring budget, and you’re surrounded by innovation skeptics? Everbridge emerging technology leader Zeeshan Sheikh offers a blueprint based on the lean startup approach.

Engagement, Conversion, and Integration: Lessons from Whirlpool Corporation’s Internal Hackathons

One company that has been working hard to get hackathons to generate real value is Whirlpool Corporation, the $21 billion appliance manufacturer based in Benton Harbor, Mich. And a big part of how they’ve been doing it, explains Subho Moulik, Head of Global Innovation, is through persistence, learning, and continual improvement. He explains what they’ve learned so far…

Pfizer’s Daniel Seewald: Where Design Thinking Breaks Down—and How to Avoid It

Daniel Seewald, Senior Director of Worldwide Innovation at Pfizer, discusses design thinking, and what you can do to ensure that your designers are using effective techniques to build an appropriate foundation for customer insight. His recommendations include defining the problem, seperating process from content, and more.

Dennis McGrath on How Starbucks Tests New Ideas in the Real World

Dennis McGrath, VP of Global Ops Innovation at Starbucks, explains how the coffee retailer developed a new protocol for testing ideas in small numbers of stores. McGrath also discusses when to bring in other business stakeholders, the failure-tolerant culture at Starbucks, and a new store format. Includes 30 minutes of downloadable audio…

‘More Speed, More Local, More Custom’: How Reebok is Thinking Outside the Mold

When it came to designing and manufacturing athletic shoes, Bill McInnis, VP at Reebok Future, says the shoe company wanted to get “ a lot more speed, a lot more local, and a lot more custom.” This was the inspiration for initiatives like the “Liquid Factory” and “Cotton + Corn,” two new processes the team has come up with for manufacturing shoes. More from McInnis inside about these initiatives and Reebok Future…

After the ‘Shark Tank’ event: How BNY Mellon is Broadening Innovation Impact

Adetola Abiade, Director of Global Innovation for the Americas at BNY Mellon, explains the nuts-and-bolts of how the oldest bank in the U.S. runs its internal “Shark Tank” event, as well as how her team is using coaching, incentives, podcasts, and metrics to extend the event’s impact.

How GE Fuse is Prototyping New Solutions, with Help from an Online Community

“The concept [of Fuse] is around sourcing different problems from GE customers and then working with an online community to solve those problems,” says Amelia Gandara, the Community Leader for GE Fuse. Here’s how they do it…

How design thinking and lean startup are changing the way Adobe builds new products

Adobe exec Aubrey Cattell says that the lean startup approach – build, measure, learn, accelerate – has changed the way Adobe thinks about innovation.

What Google, Genentech, and Facebook have in common

We talk to MIT instructor Luis Perez-Breva, author of the new book “Innovating: A Doer’s Manifesto,” about hunches, testing ideas, collecting feedback, and getting ready to scale. “I don’t like the buzzword ‘experimentation,’” Perez-Breva says. “The way it has been used the last 10 years, it leads people to think that you’re doing a random experiment here and there to try things out.”

How NRG Energy’s portable power kiosks made it from concept to the Super Bowl

NRG Go’s automated kiosks rent out fully-charged battery packs at places like nightclubs, concert venues, and shopping malls so that people can recharge their phones and tablets — without hunting for an outlet and plopping down next to it for an hour or so. Senior Manager Stacey Butler discusses how the kiosks went from concept to launch in less than 18 months.

Advice from American Greetings VP: How creatives and the business side can get along

Many people think of American Greetings as a purveyor of greeting cards and party goods, but as Carol Miller describes it, the privately-held company is in the “meaningful connections” business, helping people make connections with family and friends. On a recent IL Live conference call, she shared her advice about building great teams that include both creatives and business-side employees.

How P&G has evolved its Clay Street innovation studio to have broader impact

Over the past decade, many of the ideas that had seemed novel when Procter & Gamble’s Clay Street innovation studio first opened — like its giant Marimekko bean bags, circle conversations, and cell phone bans — have become mainstream and “really commonplace in the rest of P & G,” explains Karen Hershenson. “We want to make sure … that people don’t feel they have to be at Clay Street to be innovative, that they can be innovative anywhere. So that’s been our goal as we evolve.” Photos and diagram inside…

How the Capital One Garage is incubating new products and ‘re-imagining the relationship with money’

“We incubate and accelerate great products,” says Gagan Kanjlia, co-founder of Capital One Garage, the incubator at the $24 billion financial services giant. “But also we’re driving this broader business transformation, which is essential for larger companies like Capital One.”

“Process kills innovation”: Merck exec’s advice on fostering innovation in a global business

When it comes to innovating across the globe and in emerging markets, Merck’s head of commercial innovation is adamant about streamlining processes and paperwork. “If you need ten steps and three forms to fill in for every idea you have, nobody is going to do it,” says Wim Vandenhouweele. Inside, his advice for building a global innovation capability in a highly-regulated industry…

Photos: How Lululemon Athletica is bringing designers closer to customers

At a new “lab” store in Manhattan’s Noho neighborhood, customers come in to peruse merchandise in the front of the store, and when they head to the fitting rooms to try it on, or to a counter to pay for it, they’re just a few steps away from the designers who work in the back half of the space. Photos inside…

‘Learn fast’: At Wells Fargo, using prototypes to go beyond just talking about products

“Rapid prototyping makes something physical and tangible, so everyone can align their understanding of what it is, versus just talking about it,” says Wells Fargo SVP Robin Beers. Inside, she shares how the company uses the approach, along with a slide highlighting some guiding principles…

Lean startup: Making it work in large organizations

Our 83-page downloadable report is filled with advice, case studies, articles, interviews, and results from our recent survey of Innovation Leader members on lean startup deployment.

Survey highlights: How large organizations are deploying the lean startup approach

Slide presentation that shares some of the data, comments, and advice from our 2016 survey on how large organizations are using the lean startup methodology. Based on 170 qualified responses, with 82.4 percent of respondents saying they’ve already deployed lean startup in some form at their companies.

Treating projects like startups and keeping senior leaders in the loop at Johnson Controls

New projects at the company pass through three stage-gates: pursuit, realization, and commercialization. Johnson Controls’ Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President for Global Innovation explain how projects are funded, and how they work with senior leadership to make decisions about their fate.

Lessons from Alex Goryachev on running Cisco’s first company-wide idea challenge

On a recent Innovation Leader Live call, Cisco’s Alex Goryachev discussed the company’s recent Innovate Everywhere Challenge, including how he got thousands of employees to participate, how they recruited external judges, and why he changed his mind about letting the teams involved interact directly with customers. Includes 30 minutes of audio…

How W.L. Gore is training employees to explore new business opportunities

Head of Innovation Greg Hannon says you need to be realistic about the friction that often exists in organizations between innovation-oriented groups and the majority of more operationally-focused departments. A new lean startup skills program at Gore addresses the friction, while training employees to explore new market opportunities.

How the Catalyst Fund for new ideas works at Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters has come to the realization that building proof-of-concepts and prototypes can require significant funding. The $13 billion media and information company created an internal seed fund called the Catalyst Fund in January 2014, overseen by CEO Jim Smith and Katherine Manuel, the Senior Vice President for Innovation. It provides up to $350,000 in funding to build and test prototypes. Here’s how it works…

Why India’s Tata Communications sends employees to Silicon Valley for ‘immersion week’

“We want to show people that there are different ways of growing a business, defining customer problems, and becoming more customer-centric,” says Alex Pelletier, Head of Innovation at $3 billion Tata Communications, part of India’s Tata Group. “In the old telco world, that is historically not so true.” Pelletier explains how his company’s Shape the Future program works, and shares slides…

How MasterCard adapted the Adobe Kickbox innovation kit to its culture

Participating individuals and teams receive an Orange Box containing a $1,000 pre-paid card and tools to help them explore an idea and develop a pitch in 60 days. If the pitch is approved, the team receives a Red Box, which contains $25,000 and 90 days to develop their project further. We talk to Senior VP John Sheldon about how the program works.

How Telefónica is using lean startup — without risking reputation or reliability

The Spanish telecom company, with 123,000 employees around the world, has been embracing the lean startup practices made famous by author and entrepreneur Eric Ries — quickly building prototypes of new ideas developed in conjunction with customers, iterating fast to refine those prototypes, and speedily killing projects that don’t pan out. Here’s how they make it work in an organization obsessed with reliability…

Examples: How companies are using Indiegogo to assess consumer demand

Indiegogo SVP Jerry Needel explains how companies like GE and Hasbro have been using crowdfunding as a way to gauge consumer demand for new products — or engage collaborators in new ways. Needel also shares his advice. “We always counsel people to be authentic: who they are, what they’re trying to accomplish, and where they’re coming from,” he says.

Innovation Labs Report: What’s Inside

What exactly is an innovation lab? Ask ten companies, and you’ll get ten different answers. For our 53-page report on innovation labs, we talked to more than 20 executives at companies like Walmart, Home Depot, IKEA, Fidelity Investments, Royal Dutch Shell, MasterCard, Target, and others.

Achieving impact in a large organization: Advice from your peers

We recently brought together a group of twenty senior innovation, product, and strategy executives in Manhattan, in collaboration with our partner Mindjet. The goal: to discuss how to create sustainable innovation programs that deliver big results. Here are twenty pieces of advice from the group…

Ten lessons from ExxonMobil on spurring operationally-focused innovation

The innovation team at ExxonMobil provides a first-ever look at their Grassroots Innovation Forum, focused on sourcing and testing operational innovations, including missteps they encountered and lessons your company might want to consider. Includes internal screenshots and presentation.

‘Vapor to paper to brick’: Universal Orlando exec on deploying tech to theme parks

Talking about ideas is great — but it’s just vapor. Universal Orlando exec Al Callier explains how his team takes ideas from “vapor to paper to brick,” and what new technology they’re exploring now.

Alex Osterwalder: ‘Business models expire like yogurt in the fridge’

We talk with Alex Osterwalder, one of the developers of the Business Model Canvas, about how he sees large companies using the tool; its relationship to the lean startup methodology; and the challenges companies face in building growth engines that are as powerful as their execution engines. Includes downloadable audio…

How the accelerator program at Daimler Trucks trains intrapreneurs

A three-month long accelerator program at Daimler Trucks North America gets employee teams talking to customers, cultivating ideas, and then pitching the board. Lori Heino-Royer, director of the company’s Business Innovation and Program Management Office, talks about the objectives and one of the projects that resulted. Includes slides…

How IKEA is exploring the future of furniture, home design, and meatballs

To test ideas and prototype designs, the world’s biggest furniture company built a model apartment in southern Sweden. It invites local families to move into the apartment and document their experiences with the experimental furnishings. Includes slides…

How customer interactions guide innovation at toolmaker Snap-on

Chief Innovation Officer Bennett Brenton explains how the company gathers input from its franchisees and end-users to shape new products. Includes slides and audio…

How Weight Watchers is innovating in a relationship-based business

Global Vice President of Innovation Dondeena Bradley talks about driving multiple new initiatives aimed at transforming Weight Watchers into a holistic, community-driven company.

General Mills VP on getting to the first dollar fast, failure, key metrics

Few companies have as strong a track record when it comes to open innovation and pilot testing as General Mills. In a recent Innovation Leader Live call, Jim Kirkwood, Chief Science and Technology Development Officer, explained how the company “gets to the first dollar fast” with pilot tests. Includes 30 minutes of audio. (Not a subscriber? Get an excerpt here »)

How GE is using crowdfunding site to test demand for new products

The story of the Opal ice maker is an early case study of how a large organization leveraged crowdsourcing and crowdfunding to get a new concept in front of consumers fast.

Visa explores future of buying without plastic at innovation center

When most people talk about connected products or the “Internet of Things,” they mean a new generation of devices that can communicate with one another wirelessly. But what if devices could buy stuff, rather than just conveying status or the need for maintenance? Here’s what Visa is experimenting with …

How Taco Bell accelerated progress on digital and mobile initiatives

When Taco Bell tried to deliver new digital and in-store technologies for its customers and team members, the quick-service restaurant chain felt like it wasn’t able to move fast enough. A recently-formed 20-person team focused on Digital Innovation and On Demand is changing that. We talk to leader Lawrence Kim.

How appliance-maker Jarden is testing new business models

Our October Innovation Leader Live call guest was Asoka Veeravagu, VP of Business Development for Transformational Innovation at Jarden Consumer Solutions. The Boca Raton, Fla. company owns brands like Mr. Coffee, Aerobed, and Sunbeam.

Q&A: Elements of lean innovation

We’re about to embark on a “lean innovation” journey at our company, and I was wondering if you’d seen any studies or best practices that large corporations should consider?

How $36 billion grocer Ahold is experimenting with smaller stores

A new small-format grocery store from $36 billion Dutch grocery giant Ahold that is integrated into a neighborhood streetscape may be the key to attracting a young, discerning urban shopper who frequents farmer’s markets or Whole Foods. We talk to one of the developers of the company’s new bfresh concept.

New book on design sprints: Exclusive excerpt, with exercises

“Design Sprints” wants to teach you how to clarify the problem at hand; identify the needs of potential users; distill your ideas into one or two solutions that you can test; and prototype your solutions and bring them to life. Download a 95-page PDF excerpt from it.

Q&A: A guidebook to successful hackathons

“I see you’ve written a lot about hackathons, and have some great case studies from companies on how they run theirs. But I wonder if you have a kind of ‘guidebook’ or ‘top 10’ list of things to do to (a) get started; and (b) succeed.”

How U.S. Bank is pushing the edge on voice biometrics

The bank’s mobile app already allowed customers to use spoken commands to check their balance, available interest rates, and make payments. Could it allow them to speak a phrase that would replace their password, too?

How Jamba Juice is becoming more than just a smoothie store

In recent years, Brian Lee, vice president of product innovation at Jamba Juice, has engineered a number of new product launches, expanding Jamba’s reach in beverages with fresh-squeezed juices and making a leap into the healthy food space with energy bowls. Lee lays out the steps Jamba goes through in developing a new food or drink idea.

Mondelez shares new approach to pilot testing with startups, retailers

Kim Yansen of Mondelez (think Chips Ahoy and Trident gum) talks with Innovation Leader about latest iteration of the $34 billion food company’s Shopper Futures program; the risks involved in working with startups; and the ways that consumers’ changing habits are forcing companies to be more nimble and forward-looking.

How Royal Bank of Canada moved fast to deploy mobile payments

Staying ahead of a technological shift in your industry can be tough when you’re not a tech leader like Google or Apple. Should you marshal the internal resources necessary to do cutting-edge development on your own, or simply wait for one of the tech giants to make their move, join them as a partner — and risk letting them come between you and your customers? Here’s how Linda Mantia tackled that question…

Video: How corporations are supporting the ‘maker movement’

Google, Chevron, Saint-Gobain, and SolidWorks talk about what they’re trying to achieve by setting up makerspaces — a/k/a Fab Labs — for employee or community use, or a mix of the two. Ninety minutes of video from a recent conference at MIT.

Why Google does ‘Beer & Demos’ every Friday

Craig Nevill-Manning, Director of Engineering at Google’s Manhattan office, talks about why the company encourages engineers to show off raw prototypes every week. “The most important thing is that your demo exists,” Nevill-Manning says. “That’s the biggest achievement.”

Q&A: Expanding crowdsourcing without getting overwhelmed

We currently hold an annual crowdsourcing event for the technical services division of our company. This year, we want to expand the event outside of tech services, but I’m not sure how people could watch even more ideas to vote on them.  How have others addressed this challenge?

How NTT Data has diversified innovation with global workshops

In 2014, Tokyo-based NTT Data held 11 workshops in cities like Phoenix, Toronto, Barcelona, and Beijing. This year, the IT services giant is planning another dozen, with a specific focus on disruptive digital innovations, according to Naureen Meraj, senior global director of digital engagement and social gamification for the company. She shares the inclusive approach they developed, along with several slides.

NBCUniversal shares its hit hackathon formula

On the heels of recent hackathons in New York, Orlando, and London, NBCUniversal’s chief technology officer and chief information officer share their advice on topics like how to link hackathons with business unit objectives.

How MTD Products shepherded an impossible product to market

When he took over a new role as Vice President of Business Development in 2012, Roy Keating understood that he was being handed a big mission at Ohio-based MTD Products: to help the privately-held manufacturer accelerate its growth coming out of the recession. “We wanted to do more breakthrough technology, and launch things that were unique to the market — not keep playing a zero-sum, dog-eat-dog game with the competition,” Keating says.

Q&A: Innovation software

We’ve got what I’d call a first-generation legacy PLM [Product Lifecycle Management] system that we’re not really using or getting value from.

FedEx innovation exec shares slides, story behind SenseAware service

A FedEx innovation team has been at the center of building businesses that leverage “Internet of Things” technologies. The first is called SenseAware, and it allows FedEx customers to know about the temperature, light exposure, and humidity of a package in transit — not to mention its precise location and whether or not it has been opened.

MasterCard exec talks Whirlpool collaboration, startup accelerator

Group Head of Innovation Management John Sheldon shares the strategic objectives behind MasterCard’s Start Path accelerator program, and explains how his MasterCard Labs group collaborated with Whirlpool to rethink laundry.

Case study: Alaska Airlines’ lean startup test in airport lounges

Two members of the airline’s Customer Innovation R&D team talk about a recent test of new system aimed at delivering a more personalized travel experience. Includes slides and lessons learned…

United exec shares idea scoring system, innovation challenges

Jason Flores of United Airlines shares his RAMP scoring system for employee ideas, and talks about some of the challenges of leveraging technology to make significant changes inside an established organization.

Hallmark innovation exec on retail pop-ups and new brands

Patti Streeper’s job at $3.9 billion Hallmark Cards is to help cultivate businesses that may not fit with the 105-year old company’s brand image — but ones that speak to new groups of customers. We talked with her about two examples: Easy, Tiger, a line of offbeat cards targeted at Millennials, and 5 Points, a pop-up retail concept that Hallmark launched last year.

Inside MassMutual’s radical new learning initiative

Organizing supper clubs and offering classes on how to plan for the zombie apocalypse, a spin-out from $27 billion MassMutual tries to target the future consumer. Here’s how it works…

Hershey’s exec on metrics, learning, and focusing innovation

Deborah Arcoleo, Director of the Advanced Innovation Center of Excellence, talks about how Hershey’s thinks about innovating beyond its product portfolio; how they measure innovation impact; training and capability development; and ensuring continued management buy-in for the innovation team. Includes audio and slides…

Webcast replay: Fidelity VP on tools for innovation teams

“If you just talk a lot about innovation and make a lot of noise, it can backfire,” says Rick Smyers, VP of the Center for Accelerated Innovation at Fidelity Investments. “People can hear a lot about it and think, ‘It’s just another management fad. It’ll go away.'” Smyers explains in this webcast how you can put the right strategy, tools, and people in place to make a real impact — and details some of his team’s successful projects.

Kelly Services exec on impact payments and disruptive ideas

Kelly Chief Innovation Officer Rolf Kleiner talks about his CEO’s expectations; developing a process for collecting incremental and disruptive ideas; creating an incentive system for idea submitters; and one high-potential idea Kelly Services is preparing to roll out. Includes 30 minutes of audio from our Innovation Leader Live call…

Thomson Reuters innovation VP on limits of idea management

The head of the Data Innovation Lab at media giant Thomson Reuters argues that if you want to generate significant revenues from innovation, just installing idea management software won’t get you there. Here’s what she’s doing instead…

How EMC reignited its innovation program

Troubling question: What happens to all those employee ideas we collect? EMC executive Calvin Smith realized that the innovation team needed to enhance its capability to craft business plans and prototypes — and eventually hand market-tested products and services back to the business units.

Advice: Sorting ideas to focus on the winners

It’s a big question, and one that’s crucial to the success of innovation teams: What are the best approaches to sorting and prioritizing ideas so that you can focus resources on those with the highest potential? We’ve got input from executives at Kraft Foods, Allstate, Intuit, Brown Brothers Harriman, and more — and you’re invited to add your perspective…

Why Adobe gives employees a red box with $1,000 inside

Nearly 1,000 employees of Adobe Systems have participated in the Silicon Valley software company’s Kickbox Innovation Workshop, where they learn how to develop ideas and collect customer feedback. Participants get $1,000 to spend, no questions asked. Adobe exec Mark Randall explains how it works, and shares the program’s scorecard.

Marriott Exec: How we Prototype, Crowdsource, Measure

Marriott executive Brian King talks to Innovation Leader members about rapid prototyping, collecting ideas from employees and customers, and why naivete is crucial to innovation. Includes highlights and audio from our latest Innovation Leader Live call…

Why GE created the new FirstBuild maker community

GE design executive Lou Lenzi explains how the company’s new co-creation initiative, launched this summer, is allowing GE to “take little bets and do things fast.” Includes video and slides from a recent presentation.

Is this the fate of every employee idea-sourcing initiative?

You launch an innovation initiative and cast a wide net for employee ideas. What happens next? This slide from Thomson Reuters VP Mona Vernon predicts it with startling accuracy.

How Sargento created a product with $50M in first year revenue

Rod Hogan, VP of New Platform Development at privately-held Sargento Foods, explains how a dialogue with consumers helped the company create a product that produced $50 million in revenue in its first year on store shelves, and recently won a Nielsen Breakthrough Innovation Award.

Lessons from AGCO: Successful university collaborations

Ravi Godbole, a research and engineering executive at the $10.8 billion agricultural equipment manufacturer, explains how strong university relationships fit into AGCO’s organic growth strategy — and discusses the pitfalls you should avoid.

How Heathrow Airport clears emerging technologies for take-off

How do busy organizations build innovation capacity? London’s Heathrow Airport handles 72 million passengers a year, with a plane landing or taking off every 45 seconds. Amidst the need for operational efficiency, safety, and security, Head of IT Strategy and Innovation Richard Harding explains what the innovation team has achieved.

How DuPont’s innovation centers bring it closer to customers

Karen Weining, Global Innovation Excellence Leader at DuPont, explains how the pioneering materials company has been collaborating with customers at its network of 12 innovation centers around the world.

Why Intuit says ‘you never know’ about ideas — until you test ’em

At plenty of companies, persuasive PowerPoints and buy-in from top executives are required to move ideas forward. Intuit executive Bennett Blank explains how his company is creating an infrastructure that encourages teams of employees to test ideas in the market, and gather data, to help determine which ideas hold real promise. Includes a graphic explaining how “Innovation via Rapid Experiments” works at Intuit…

How Roche pursues patient-centric innovation; inside the ‘Imaginarium’

Global Head of Innovation Management Sheila Babnis offers an inside look at how the Swiss pharma giant’s innovation function was created and how it operates today, including tight partnerships with business units. “We find that doing innovation within the business, it sticks much better than if it’s done to the business,” Babnis says. Includes a downloadable PDF overview of Roche’s “Imaginarium” approach to design thinking and prototyping…

Why Lockheed Martin bet big on large-scale 3D printing; with video

Execs at $45 billion Lockheed Martin are demonstrating that 3D printing isn’t just for prototypes — they’re already producing parts for real-world projects like NASA’s Juno spacecraft, now on its way to Jupiter. Lockheed’s Steve Betza lays out the benefits…and shares a video.