BiF-4 Insights – John Wolpert – Best Buy

by Braden Kelley

Impact of BBC Connections television program on his life (hosted by James Burke).

We have to share, but what do we share?

  • Do we know what we need to share?
  • It is one thing to share inventions, it is another thing to share intentions

An innovation changes how people organize, how they do business, and/or how people live their lives.

IBM Alphaworks:

  • Average lifespan of an innovation program is three years, maybe five years at the outside, but Alphaworks is now thirteen years old
  • Reason is the crossing of the membrane of the firm and connecting to external companies
    • This makes it more valuable and difficult to dislodge

Personal Journey

  • Alphaworks -> Extreme Blue -> Innovation XChange Network -> YCombinator

Extreme Blue is a ten year old talent program:

  • Reported to heads of HR, Technology, and Business Strategy

Innovation XChange Network in Australia

  • Hiring trusted intermediaries and implanting people into companies that could share with other implanted intermediaries but not with companies
  • We brought together a healthcare company and technology company looking for overlap
    • People started sharing nouns (their technology) and then crickets chirping
    • People wouldn’t share their verbs (their intentions)
    • We should have brought the interns (experienced people have a hesitancy to share)

There are always that 1-3% chomping at the bit to start something new.

The talent program I’ve built for Best Buy involves some of the same keys as the Extreme Blue program I worked on for IBM:

  • 10 weeks
  • Live and work together
  • A small investment
    • Give people more money and they’ll spend it
    • Restricting the investment and basing additional funding on meeting certain milestones is better

For more information on the talk, go here.

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