Articles & Case Studies by Topic

Innovation Labs & Spaces

Topic Overview: Labs

We increasingly see large companies creating something they call an innovation lab or center as a way to cultivate and test new ideas, separate from the demands and pressures of the business units. More often than not, they exist within companies that haven’t traditionally had research and development teams. And they typically have some kind of “showcase” element to them — they’re intentionally designed to look and feel different from the rest of the company, serving as a place to expose employees to new tools, approaches, and technologies; to bring in outsiders like entrepreneurs or customers for collaboration; or to help with recruiting.

When set up with clear goals, innovation labs can help to keep the business looking ahead, exploring new technologies and business models, defending markets, building skills among employees and loyalty among customers, and sustaining a company’s competitive advantage.

A good starting place in this section is our research report, “Innovation Labs: Getting Started. Measuring Them. Delivering Results,” which includes interviews with executives from Walmart, Home Depot, IKEA, Fidelity Investments, Royal Dutch Shell, MasterCard, Target, and others.

Editor's Picks: Recommended articles on innovation labs
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All Innovation Leader articles & case studies on innovation labs:

Aflac Exec on Growing a Venture Capital Fund

Bharat Rajaram of Aflac discusses how the company grew its venture fund in a year and the role of Aflac Venture Labs. “The initial…months [and] even the first year…was all about trying to prove out the model,” he says. “[Y]ou want to take your time and prove that you can do something well.”

At Experian, Data is an Innovator’s Best Friend

In this bonus episode of Innovation Answered, we take a deep dive into the world of data and how Experian’s DataLabs spread innovative data solutions across the company. Listen to the full episode or read the transcript.

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.

Agile AF: How Kessel Run Experimentation Lab Innovates in the Air Force

In the world of the Air Force, rank and passing clearances reign supreme, often slowing down new projects. However, Kessel Run’s team of about 200 staffers seeks to move from initial whiteboard ideation to getting working software to users in as fast as 88 days. Find out more from Kessel Run Director Adam Furtado.

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.

Photo Gallery: Inside American Greetings, Where ‘Meaningful Connections’ Are Made

Many people think of American Greetings as a purveyor of greeting cards, gift packaging, party goods and e-cards, but as VP of Innovation Carol Miller describes it, the privately-held company is in the “meaningful connections” business, making the world a more thoughtful and caring place. Take a look inside the company’s headquarters.

An Annotated Map of 50+ Corporate Innovation Hubs in Boston and Cambridge

Boston is home to a fertile innovation scene that attracts corporates who want to keep an eye on the latest research; hire recent grads; and invest in or acquire startups. Players like Microsoft and Mitsubishi are among the old-timers, but more recent arrivals include ASICS, the Japanese shoe company, and Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharma firm. You can see 50+ hubs on our annotated map…

Video: Inside Cadillac’s Brand Building Initiative, Cadillac House

Opened in 2015 after the company relocated its headquarters from Detroit to New York, Cadillac House showcases the car company’s brand values to the public. The space includes a free art gallery with rotating interactive exhibits, pop-up stores, a café, as well as the latest Cadillac vehicles. Innovation Leader spoke with brand partnerships leader Katie Kim about the objectives for Cadillac House.

Lucasfilm’s Vicki Dobbs Beck Talks VR, AR, and Hyper-Reality Star Wars Experiences

Vicki Dobbs Beck, Executive in Charge at Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB, forecasted the future of storytelling at Innovation Leader’s 2018 Impact Event. During her keynote, she discussed Star Wars, immersive experiences, and bringing people together through story. Watch the video excerpts, and read the highlights.

Q&A: What Metrics Do You Track for Your Innovation Center?

We asked the Innovation Leader community: What metrics do you track to prove out the value of your innovation center? Do you have any specific benchmarks regarding increased sales/customer acquisition tied to the space (or insights from your work with clients)? Here are some of their answers…

Ideation, Incubation, and Commercialization: How Daimler’s Lab1886 Develops and Rolls Out New Businesses

Daimler AG’s Lab1886 is the organization’s internal innovation hub, with locations in Berlin, Beijing, Silicon Valley, and Atlanta, among other places. The vehicle-maker relies on the lab to help explore trends in mobility, and take ideas from conception to the marketplace. Susanne Hahn, Director of Lab1886 Global, sat down with Innovation Leader to discuss Lab1886, how the company inspires and supports its employees to innovate, and why they chose Atlanta for the lab’s newest addition.

How Platform is Changing What it Means to be a Mall

With more purchases shifting over to e-commerce daily, the retail apocalypse is proving to be more than just media hype about the death of malls and the decline of the independent storefront. So why would two entrepreneurs choose this moment to build a new outdoor shopping center on a ruins of a car dealership in southern California? Despite the dire forecasts, Joseph Miller and his partner, David Fishbein, set out in 2013 to create something that was anything but mall-like. Take a look at Platform inside…

Video Lab Tour: Inside Kellogg’s NYC

At Kellogg’s NYC, playing with your food is strongly encouraged. Kellogg’s launched its New York City cereal cafe in 2016. Visitors can build their own cereal bowls and add seasonal toppings. They can also order custom bowls curated by the Kellogg’s staff that test new types of cereal.

IL Live Call Replay: Your Innovation Questions Answered

In our most recent live call, we had our members ask us anything they had on their minds. We explored our Blueprints for Innovation Executives report, best practices for building a successful innovation incubator, and how to build networks of champions. HYPE Innovation’s Jennifer Dunn and Scott Kirsner from Innovation Leader answered questions during the session.

How the I-Team is Working to Amplify Civic Innovation in Los Angeles

Launched in 2015, the i-team is working on ambitious projects, from working with the Los Angeles Police Department improve its recruiting process to helping city residents to stay in rental homes and apartments as their neighborhoods gentrify. We talk with Amanda Daflos, its director, about what they’ve achieved so far and how they measure progress.

How the Brazilian Aerospace Firm Embraer is Pursuing Disruptive Innovation

David Rottblatt of the EmbraerX, a disruptive innovation team at the aerospace firm Embraer, explains how the team is set up — and some of the initial projects they are working on, including a collaboration with Uber. Includes a half-hour of audio…

Inside Baker Hughes’ Energy Innovation Center in Oklahoma City

Four years ago, Baker Hughes opened up its Oil & Gas Technology Center in Oklahoma City— a place they call the “Silicon Valley of the Shale Revolution.” This July, the company reinvented the facility, unveiling the Energy Innovation Center (EIC).

How Fidelity Investments Used a Key Ring to Capture Project Learnings

What happens after you run the debrief on a project you’ve completed? Often, there’s a whiteboard full of learnings, or a few documents stashed away in a directory somewhere. At Fidelity Investments, the Fidelity Labs innovation team came up with a clever way to capture what they learned from a project that launched in 2016. Here’s how they did it…

Photo Gallery: ‘Underground’ Roundtable on Digital Transformation at the CME Group

At our recent invitation-only “Underground” roundtable in Chicago, we tackled several topics around digital transformation: how do you define it, who should be involved, how do you overcome cultural barriers, and how do you get things moving with a sense of urgency? Photos inside…

How the Cleveland Clinic Sifts Ideas — and Spins Out New Ventures

With more than 52,000 employees generating about 300 inventions a year, the Cleveland Clinic doesn’t want for innovation. But the tough task facing Cleveland Clinic Innovations, a group founded in 2000, is to help as many of those inventions as possible find their way into the healthcare system. Executive Director Pete O’Neill explains how they do it…

How a New Lab at Mass General Hospital is Spurring Internal Innovation and Working with Startups

Julia Jackson, the Managing Director of Mass General’s Healthcare Transformation Lab, explains the three pillars of what the lab works on, as well as the importance of having “boots on the ground.”

With Venture Investments and New Incentives, CSAA Insurance Preps for the Future of Transportation

How does the staid world of car insurance not only survive, but find opportunities for new growth? $3.5 billion CSAA Insurance Group believes it will happen by upgrading its technology infrastructure, creating new programs for employees and leaders, and investing in innovation both inside and outside the company’s walls. Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer Debbie Brackeen explains…

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…

What New York Life Has Learned from Six Years in Corporate Venture Capital

In recent years, New York Life’s Ventures unit has been amping up its investments in “frontier technologies” that may be able to improve the client experience, streamline its own internal operations, and help grow the business for the future.

Healthcare Innovation — Case Studies from the Leading Edge

Healthcare organizations are an extremely challenging and complex environment for innovation. But the need for them to innovate has never been more intense — whether in response to new entrants, changing customer behaviors, cost pressures, or shifting reimbursement paradigms. Our latest in-depth research report explores how the world’s leading healthcare companies have set up new innovation initiatives that are delivering tangible results.

Southwest Airlines President: ‘If You Don’t Like Change, You’re Going to Hate Extinction’

Southwest is the country’s biggest airline, with 55,000 employees serving 115 million passengers annually. We spoke with President Tom Nealon about how the airline is working to address customer and employee pain points.

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.

Q&A: Do You Charge Other Departments for Your Innovation Services?

Last week, we asked our community members: “Does your team charge other groups in the company for your services? If you don’t charge, why not?” Here’s a summary of their advice…

The Three Roles That USAA Labs Plays

Chief Innovation Officer Zachary Gipson explains how his USAA Labs team engages employees and members; experiments with new technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence; and works to build new businesses.

Video: Jeffrey Schnapp of Piaggio Fast Forward on Bringing Two Engineering Cultures Together

“One of the roles that Piaggio Fast Forward plays within the company,” explains Jeffrey Schnapp, the CEO of Piaggio Fast Forward, “is to bring engineering staff from the Piaggio Group [in Italy] to Boston, to our facilities, to get them involved in [our] projects, which go beyond traditional or conventional approaches to light transportation — motorcycles, scooters, small trucks. They involve robotics, machine intelligence, artificial intelligence. For these engineers, its a whole new realm of experience, but it’s also a whole new model of how you work.” More insights from Schnapp in this short video…

Video Lab Tour: Shell’s TechWorks Innovation Lab Encourages Fast Prototyping and Feedback

Julie Ferland, General Manager of the Shell TechWorks innovation lab, offers an inside look at how the space is designed; the types of projects it works on; and the team Shell has assembled from outside the oil and gas industry.

Video: The Highlights (and Lowlights) of Corporate Innovation in 2017

From Ford to Walmart, GE to Amazon, here’s our run-down of the 10 most interesting corporate innovation happenings of 2017.

Uber Isn’t Joking About Flying Cars

Uber’s Elevate initiative aims to launch a new fleet of electric aircraft that would carry a pilot and up to four passengers. And the company plans to begin its first Elevate test flights in 2020 in places like Dubai, Los Angeles, and Dallas, and be fully operational by 2023. We talk to two of the NASA veterans overseeing the project.

Video Lab Tour: Inside Stanley Black and Decker’s ‘Futures Innovation Factory’

One new initiative in the security division at Connecticut-based Stanley Black and Decker is its “Futures Innovation Factory,” which opened earlier this year in Boston. The 5,200 square-foot space, led by the Vice President of Breakthrough Innovation Spencer Maid, houses engineers working on new products like smarter security cameras, automated doors, and more. Maid gave us a tour of the space, and discussed its objectives…

Inside Marriott’s M Beta, a Real-World Hotel Designed for Testing New Concepts

Guests who check into Marriott’s M Beta hotel in Charlotte, originally built in 1984 but revamped last year, are immersed in an environment where nearly everything is experimental, and intended to gather feedback. Here’s a look inside…

Fifteen of the Top Innovation and R&D Labs in Los Angeles

Los Angeles isn’t just about the movie industry; it’s one of the most active cities in North America for innovation in big companies. We created this map to display 15 of the top innovation and R&D labs in area.

Video: Advice on Starting a Corporate Innovation Lab

With seven labs across the globe, Thomson Reuters has a larger network of innovation labs than most companies. Mona Vernon, Chief Technology Officer of Thomson Reuters Labs, discusses goals, people, governance, and the relationship between the lab and the core business. Vernon also touches on the question of where to locate an innovation lab.

Slides: How One Company Thinks About Innovation Structures, Investment Levels, Timeframes

Two slides lay out the way David Crean of Anthem’s Innovation Studio views the different innovation options, or “flavors of innovation,” that a company might pursue. Each one has different levels of risk, different funding requirements, and different potential outcomes.

In San Diego, Transforming an Unused Airport Terminal into an Innovation Lab

“What we’ve done with the innovation lab is say, ‘Maybe there are other ways to create an experience for our passengers that also helps to increase and create different streams of revenue,’” says Rick Belliotti, the San Diego International Airport’s Director of Innovation and Small Business Development. Innovation Leader sat down with Belliotti to discuss the lab’s approach to creating partnerships, how the airport innovates in a regulated environment, and what it really takes to make airports better for travelers.

Spinning Out Isn’t Simple: The Inside Story of How Eastern Bank Launched a Lending Startup

Plenty of big companies working on new business ideas talk about the potential for spinning them out. But few actually follow through and do it. Here’s the inside story of how it happened at Eastern Bank, the largest and oldest mutual bank in the US.

How MetLife Asia is Building New Ventures and Finding Startups Focused on Its Challenges

The entire insurance industry, argues Zia Zaman, has “lost its way by not focusing on the customer.” Here’s how Zaman, the Chief Innovation Officer for MetLife Asia since 2014, is working to change the status quo.

How Delta Air Lines is Prioritizing Innovation in an Operationally-Intensive Culture

It’s hard to think of a more complicated, operationally-intensive business than air transport. It’s regulated and overseen by a federal agency. Customers expect on-time arrivals, food, and frequent flier miles—and increasingly, in-flight wifi. And every new plane you add to the fleet can cost $75 million or more, and needs to be inspected regularly. In that environment, what role does innovation play? That’s the very big question that Matt Muta, VP of Innovation and Operations Technology at Delta Air Lines, has been responsible for answering since March 2014, when he joined the company from Microsoft. Our interview inside…

Photos: Inside W. L. Gore’s Silicon Valley Innovation Center

“Gore is well known for internal innovation, and we’re increasing our focus on external innovation,” says Linda Elkins, a veteran of Gore’s R&D organization and leader of the company’s new Silicon Valley Innovation Center. Elkins gave Innovation Leader contributing photographer Cayce Clifford a look at the center in July.

Video Lab Tour: Inside Verizon’s ‘Window Into Innovation’

Tim Gorman, Associate Director of the Verizon Innovation Program, explains the objectives of the company’s innovation centers in San Francisco and the Boston suburbs, and offers a demo of an augmented reality solution for “smart cities.”

Video: Autodesk’s Rick Rundell on Getting an Innovation Program Started

Autodesk Technology & Innovation Strategist Rick Rundell talks about starting an innovation initiative at the software company.

At Medtronic’s Applied Innovation Lab, Working Closely with Business Units and Going Global

The Applied Innovation Lab opened its doors in September 2015, with a goal of helping Medtronic evolve from being simply a maker of medical devices like pacemakers and stents to one that is thinking more broadly about improving health and patient outcomes. In the two years since it opened, there has hardly been a quiet moment at the lab — and there has been so much demand from different groups in the company the team has had to create screening criteria for what they will work on. Brian Bechard explains…

Don’t Build an Innovation Ivory Tower: Advice from Manulife exec Jesse Bean on Delivering Impact

Bean is the Chief Experience Officer and Head of Innovation for Global Solutions Delivery at Manulife Financial, the $53.3 billion financial services group that operates as John Hancock in the US. He shares his advice about setting up a network of labs, building support among middle management, and the “DevOps” approach to bringing software development closer to IT operations folks. Includes downloadable audio…

Six Types of Innovation Lab: The Pros and Cons

We’ve now written about or visited dozens of labs run by Global 1000 companies. This list lays out the six primary types we’ve seen — though there are “hybrids” which combine aspects of these — as well as the pros and cons of each.

Why Suffolk’s Chief Innovation Officer is Investing in Virtual Reality

“Active visualization” has been a big emphasis for Suffolk Chief Innovation Officer Chris Mayer — creating new ways to envision projects in their finished state, whether using augmented or virtual reality technology. Mayer explains why the $2.9 billion construction company is betting big.

Photos: How Cadillac House is Helping to Transform The Vehicle Maker’s Brand

When Cadillac relocated its global headquarters from Detroit to New York City in 2015, it wasn’t just a change of scenery for the luxury vehicle maker, a division of General Motors. The company was looking to get consumers to reevaluate the brand. Hear from Nathan Tan, Associate Director of Brand Partnerships and Experiences at Global Cadillac, about the creation of Cadillac House, and see photos from inside the space.

Photos: Inside the Hatchery, the innovation lab at AARP

As part of our next Field Study learning expedition, we’ll visit the Hatchery, the innovation lab at AARP. AARP is not only one of the largest nonprofits in the country, but it’s also one of the biggest insurers and magazine publishers. We talked about what happens inside the Hatchery with Andy Miller, the SVP for Innovation and Product Development at AARP.

Map: These are the Key Players — and Tensions — Involved in Corporate Innovation

In any organization, there are plenty of stakeholders involved with innovation, and plenty of dynamics that can prevent them from attaining alignment. We wanted to explore those forces — and create a guide to dealing with them thoughtfully. So we partnered with XPLANE, the renowned “visual thinking” firm, to create a map of the corporate innovation ecosystem, along with discussion questions to get you working toward better alignment and more impact. You can download it here…

Creating Iconic Advantage: Soon Yu Talks Innovation at VF Corp, Changes in Retail

Creating an iconic brand — like Apple, BMW, or Nike — requires more than great design and technological breakthroughs. According to Soon Yu, the former Global VP of Innovation at VF Corporation, when something is iconic, it has three simple qualities: Distinction, relevance, and universal recognition. More from Yu in this live call replay, with audio and transcript inside…

Retail Accelerator XRC Labs Spotlights Startups and Industry Shifts

The seven startups at XRC Labs’ 2017 Demo Day in New York represented the forefront of innovation in the retail space — from on-demand activewear manufacturing to indoor mapping services to artificially-intelligent visual search technology. In kicking off the demo day, XRC’s Managing Director Pano Anthos discussed some of the trends he is seeing in the retail space, and what retailers must do to stay relevant. Four of the trends he discussed are recapped inside, along with short descriptions of each of the presenting startups.

Why Italian vehicle-maker Piaggio set up a new lab to design robots

Piaggio, headquartered in Pontedera, Italy, is best-known for the scooters and motorcycles it produces, including Vespa and Moto Guzzi. But the new lab in Boston wouldn’t focus on creating vehicles with two or four wheels to travel on roads. “I don’t think the evolution of mobility is still four wheels with an engine,” Colaninno says. “The car is a 1900s idea.”

Photos: Inside MasterCard Labs in New York City

Photos from MasterCard’s NYC Tech Hub, opened in October 2014.

Webcast replay: The innovation agenda for 2017

Innovation Leader editor Scott Kirsner discusses what we’re seeing corporate innovation teams focusing on for 2017, including governance; more focused approaches to working with startups; adjusting the focus of innovation labs; some of the factors that lead to the sudden death of innovation initiatives; and the benefits of building networks of champions or catalysts. Kirsner also discusses metrics.

Cardinal Health SVP offers a look inside customer-focused Fuse lab

“When you come to Fuse, it’s all about the customers. It’s customer-in,” says Cardinal Health SVP and CTO Brent Stutz. Visiting employees and executives “leave their business unit affiliations and their badges behind.” Here’s a look inside…

Inside Target’s Food + Future coLab

The idea behind the creation of the coLAB, as founder Greg Shewmaker explains it, is that “we know less about our food than we ever have at any other time in history. We want to do something about it. I don’t want to go sell more Greek yogurt or healthy products. I want to go do something big, and fix some big problems.” Photo gallery inside…

At the Philadelphia 76ers new innovation lab, offering hands-on help to startups

The new lab is open to hosting all kinds early-stage consumer product companies and some B2B concepts — not just sports or fitness-related startups. “The sports category, although it’s really big, is pretty limiting,” says Managing Director Seth Berger. “The Sixers’ network is so broad across so many different industries — to limit ourselves to sports didn’t make sense.”

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.”

At Honda’s Silicon Valley Lab, riding shotgun with Google, Apple, Visa, and others

While it began life as an R&D outpost in 2000, and later added a venture capital team, Honda’s Silicon Valley site is now a full-fledged innovation hub for the company, overseeing a range of important partnerships and startup interactions. Nick Sugimoto explains how it’s set up.

Webcast replay: What top corporate innovators are doing in 2016

Innovation Leader editor and co-founder Scott Kirsner shares seven examples of how companies like Toyota, Disney, GE, and Amazon are working to innovate better, faster, cheaper — and more collaboratively. The webcast also explores some of the factors that lead to premature death for innovation initiatives.

After an acquisition: SAP Ariba CEO on how to sustain innovation (and what can go wrong)

Even when acquirers pay billions of dollars for their prize, too often they spend the years after the deal closes driving away some of the top employees and squashing the culture that made the company so appealing in the first place. Alex Atzberger says that without working hard to avoid that, acquisitions can bleed the acquired company of its innovative spirit. We spoke with him earlier this month about what to do — and what to avoid — following an acquisition, as well as his perspective on why innovation needs to happen within mainline business units, as opposed to solely in a lab or innovation center. ” You have to set the right goals and be willing to make the right investment,” he says.

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…

Innovation lessons from Airbus’ foray into 3D-printed electric motorcycles

One expects to hear about sleek new cabin designs or fuel-efficient aircraft from the $70.5 billion Airbus Group. So heads turned when the aerospace giant introduced the world’s first 3D-printed motorcycle in May. The story of the how and why Airbus brought the bike to market offers useful lessons for other large corporations.

Audio: Shell and Thales execs on setting up innovation outposts, gauging impact

Executives from Shell TechWorks and the Thales xPlor initiative joined Innovation Leader editor Scott Kirsner earlier this year to talk about what they hope to accomplish with the innovation labs they’ve set up in the Boston area, and how they’re being measured. Here’s the audio and slides.

Head of innovation lab at $11 billion ADP on recruiting, focus, hand-offs

Roberto Masiero, vice president and head of ADP’s New Jersey innovation lab, offers lessons and recommendations for companies looking to start their own labs. Among them: deploy small teams focused on specific projects. “They almost become like a family,” he says. “It drives the project, and it’s been quite successful so far.”

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…

New York Times disbands R&D Lab, pulls innovation closer to newsroom and advertisers

The lab was founded a decade ago with a mandate to look “beyond the next product cycle, identifying trends and technologies that will emerge in the next three to five years.” Michael Zimbalist, who had overseen the lab, had already departed the Times in March to join Simulmedia, an advertising tech startup.

At Shell’s fast-growing TechWorks lab, it’s ‘all about deploying’

We talk to the director of Shell TechWorks about the lab’s projects, its funding, and its mission — finding cheaper, faster, and safer ways to drill for oil and gas, and to take advantage of future energy sources.

Schneider Electric exec: Quick decision-making is key in Silicon Valley

It has been just two years since the French multinational Schneider Electric set up an innovation center in Silicon Valley. But already, the outpost is helping the $30 billion company experiment with new services and business models. We talk to innovation VP Paul Campbell about its structure and one of the first projects…

Former Pixar SVP on creative conflict and why well-designed offices win

“Creative abrasion is the ability to have difficult conversations,” says former Pixar SVP of Technology Greg Brandeau. “It’s like taking sandpaper and polishing something.” He shares his thoughts on how to make it work, along with an assessment test.

Hearst Health’s chief innovation officer on lab funding, staffing, and focus

Our latest Innovation Leader Live call featured Justin Graham of Hearst Health, talking about the innovation lab he oversees in San Francisco. We discussed staffing, funding, and the focus of the lab — and took several questions from listeners. Read the highlights of our conversation, or listen to the audio.

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.

Intel Labs exec on collaborations driving company’s Internet of Things strategy

Martin Curley, Director of Intel Labs Europe, shares strategy slides on how an “Open Innovation 2.0” approach is helping Intel work with customers to prototype and deploy Internet of Things technologies.

Why Toyota set up new $1 billion research group as a ‘skunkworks’

The new institute has four initial mandates, including helping the carmaker explore possible products opportunities in “indoor mobility” and robotic assistants for the elderly. CEO Gill Pratt explains the structure…

How Thales Group is chasing growth with new xPlor initiative

Pete Roney, VP of Innovation at Thales USA, the American arm of the $17 billion French aerospace and defense giant Thales Group, says that the rationale for launching a new innovation effort was pretty clear: The company just wasn’t thinking creatively enough to keep up with its peer group.

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 new CVS digital lab proves value, collaborates with business units

Chief Digital Officer Brian Tilzer discusses why the $37 billion retail and healthcare giant set up its new Digital Innovation Lab in Boston; how it connects with teams at CVS’ Rhode Island headquarters; and his thoughts on mobile payments, videoconferencing and collaboration, and in-store Bluetooth Beacon technology. Includes 40 minutes of audio from our recent Field Study visit…

Cartoon: What do the business units really want from innovation?

Sharing this original cartoon by Ricardo Galvao, which appears in the Fall 2015 edition of Innovation Leader magazine. (Click it to get a larger, printable version.)

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 …

Lego Executive Chairman: To Innovate, Create a Separate Structure

Lego executive chairman and former CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp talks about Future Lab, a separate team the company set up to explore new avenues for growth.

Lightweight engagement: A simpler approach to connecting with the world outside your walls

What’s lightweight? Things that can generate results within six months, with a minimum of funding, internal debate, and approvals. Lightweight is a kayak you can assemble yourself; heavyweight is a cruise liner. Here are some suggested approaches.

How the lab at Express Scripts leverages data to predict — and prevent — healthcare problems

The Express Scripts Lab, which opened in 2010, roughly tripled in headcount last year and now houses more than 100 employees. One area of focus: working with data to better predict which patients will need extra nudges to stick to a medication regime. We talk with one of the executives who leads it, Mark Bini.

How retail giant Walmart remade its global network of e-commerce labs

The Arkansas-based retailer, the world’s biggest company by revenue, restructured its tech development team in Silicon Valley in 2011. We talk to @WalmartLabs chief Jeremy King about some big ideas that have come out of the regular “hack days” that he runs; some projects that haven’t panned out; the vision that guides his group; and more.

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.

Q&A: Structuring an innovation group for the “Internet of Things”

We’re a $1 billion+ physical products company that lacks software expertise; although we have some in-house, I wouldn’t say we’re “Google-esque” in our mastery of software development. Do any of your members or partners have any thoughts on how to think about the integration process re: “smart devices” or “the Internet of Things”?

What Manulife’s senior tech execs want from new LOFT initiative

Executives at Manulife Financial knew they needed to play more offense when it came to exploring and experimenting with new technologies. To speed up the company’s tech metabolism, Manulife last month launched the Lab of Forward Thinking, or LOFT. We’ve got slides on their strategy, and their first big event…

Five ways to spread innovation throughout the organization

As part of our New York Field Study last month, Michael Dewar of the New York Times Research & Development Group discussed the various ways that his group can build awareness of what it is working on throughout the organization — and ideally increase other departments’ willingness to support the R&D team’s projects as they move from initial demo to production. Here’s an annotated slide from his talk…

New York Field Study photos: Pfizer, BMW, Google, and more

More than 50 senior innovation, strategy, and R&D executives joined us last month in Manhattan for our June Field Study to visit labs, venture capital offices, and startup spaces operated by Pfizer, BMW, the New York Times, Google, Work-Bench, and Quirky.

Disney SVP on how accelerator program led to new partnerships

Senior Vice President of Innovation Michael Abrams discusses the upside of launching an accelerator program for media and entertainment startups, including some of the partnerships that it has sparked so far.

Lowe’s exec Kyle Nel on innovating in a time of exponential change

In the 1920s, the average time companies spent in the S&P 500 Index was 67 years. Today, it’s 15. Many of the also-rans fell victim to linear thinking at a time when the business and technological landscape was changing exponentially. Kyle Nel, Executive Director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, explains how his company is working to stay ahead of the curve. Includes slides and audio…

Former Microsoft, PayPal execs on connecting with startups

What’s the right approach for big companies that want to plug into the startup world? Invest? Acquire? Be a customer? Offer to house fledgling companies? Listen to a half-hour of audio and read highlights from a May 2015 session at the “Front End of Innovation” conference.

Staples exec on building up $22B retailers’ digital muscles

When he joined Staples as its Chief Digital Officer in 2013, Faisal Masud was surprised how much of its technology development the $22 billion office supplies retailer outsourced. Since then, he has embarked on a campaign to build up the company’s digital muscles — both through attracting new talent and by acquiring small startups.

Starbucks VP on working with Howard Schultz to bring idea to life

Howard Schultz, the founder and CEO of Starbucks, had a vision that he’d been developing for a decade. He wanted to create a shrine to coffee in Seattle, the company’s hometown, where visitors could learn about the bean and the beverage, immerse themselves in the Starbucks brand, and watch as it “rained coffee beans.” VP Liz Muller was asked to make the vision real.

Inside Home Depot’s new innovation lab at Georgia Tech

The $82 billion home improvement retailer opened the new site in January. One goal is to connect with students at Georgia Tech, but Home Depot exec Martin Key says they’re also exploring technologies that could impact the way people shop and the way store associates work. Includes videos.

Inside the entrepreneur-led innovation group at Eastern Bank

Dan O’Malley had tried to disrupt the banking industry from outside. Now, he’s working within it, as the founder of Eastern Labs, an innovation group at Eastern Bank, the country’s biggest and oldest mutual bank. Includes slides…