Selecting and Supporting Worthwhile Ideas in Established Organizations

How do you select and support promising ideas within a corporate accelerator program? We asked Michael Nichols, lead of the Bosch Accelerator Program, this question. Bosch Accelerator Program is designed to innovate in the corporate context and take initial ideas to businesses that scale profitably.

Selecting worthwhile ideas

You’re not Steve Jobs, and even Steve Jobs failed a lot.

You should look for something that can use the company's capabilities, at scale, in a new way, for instance, new ways to reach customers and unlock a value chain. Obtaining buy-in from the business units should be a vital part of the ideation process. Business units need to hit their targets. If you innovate away from the core business, you’re a cost to those business units, and you’re most likely to fail. You need always to verify that your customer segment has a problem and that addressing it will be interesting for your organization.

To assess whether ideas are worthwhile, Michael suggests considering the following five dimensions:

Strategic relevance

Competitiveness in the corporate portfolio

Potential customers

Solving big problems

Business feasibility

The analogy is that you plant a lot of seeds, but because you’re not strategically aligned, there’s no water in the end.

Michael Nichols during the interview

Supporting ideas all the way

Innovation is really an organizational problem; Human Resources has to be heavily involved.

Human resources need to stay alert to the organizational implications of the innovation process. The organization needs to provide, from a high level, incentives to allow employees to innovate full time. Part-time innovation doesn’t work; it’s a full-time job to complete all the validation steps. Managers must feel compelled to allow their talent to leave and allow them to return. As for employees themselves, most are motivated by doing something new, doing something impactful, and learning a new skill.

Thank you for a great session, Michael!

About the InnoDays

The InnoDays bring companies and talent together to prototype ideas with a positive impact in 48 hours. We guide our participants’ innovation journey with our training program before and after the event with inspiring input and helpful methods. Find out more about InnoDays on our website.

InnoInsights aims to be a source of inspiration and guidance for how organizations can collaborate with external innovators.