How Innovation Processes Began at Shell and IBM

In today’s article I will review the beginnings in  innovation programs implemented by companies Shell and IBM, using the A-to-F Model described in the book Winning at Innovation .

In the mid 1990s Shell created the “GameChanger” panel, a group of creatively minded mid-level executives who could also draw on other technical resources across the company. They were given the task of developing new ideas, using a $20 million budget to implement disruptive ideas.

The GameChanger panel, in turn, created several more teams to perform some of the basic functions of the innovation process: an innovation lab, would be responsible to explore, refine and improve ideas, and a committee of entrepreneurs, who would be responsible for assessing and financing the winning projects.

The GameChanger Panel began in one division: exploration and production. Currently spread across the company and each division has its own GameChanger Panel process.

There is even a special GameChanger team, dedicated to radical projects that fall outside the boundaries of Shell’s existing businesses.

In order to identify business areas that might hold opportunities, IBM calls on customers, stakeholders and venture capitalist to propose areas of business where IBM doesn’t have a presence and that have potential for the future. IBM calls them EBOs (Emerging Business Opportunities).

IBM doesn’t look to its own R&D departament for such proposals because the latter is focused on current areas of business and therfore lacks the outsider perspective to think about new business opportunities.

IBM’s strategy manager selects the best ideas, and then identified within the company executives with long experience and they are at the forefront of important divisions, with responsibility for a large team of people, to invest in new higher-risk projects within their own unit. They are then designated to build the future of the company, and the height of his careers, put his experience to work on an internal startup.

Since lauching this system in 2000, IBM has generated 25 EBOs, of which only three have not resulted, four of them (Digital Media, Life Sciences, Linux and Persuasive Computing) reached every one incomes more than one billion dollars in 2003 and 2004.

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How to Measure New Product Productivity in Your IndustryGeovanny Romero, NPDP, is a professional with great experience in manufacturing and innovation process with a variety of companies in Latam and Europe. His main interests are focused in Productivity, New Product Development and Lean Innovation Management. You can connect with him on Twitter @geovanny_romero

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