The CTO/VP of R&D selected me and two of my esteemed design colleagues to establish a brand new Accelerator program. The goal was to have a safe place for new product or process ideas to be investigated since the possibility of failure was high.
We did our research with inspiration from Y-Combinator and Techstars.
We spoke with Legal--they were thrilled since they were always on the lookout for new patents.
We spoke with HR--they were thrilled, because it would be good for the culture to know this program existed, whether or not you were selected to participate.
We spoke with Marketing--they were thrilled and wanted to turn it into a new YouTube series to show off this cool program to the world.
As designers, we wanted to make sure that participating in the program was in and of itself a good experience. If your idea wasn't selected to move forward as an official product (and, let's be honest, chances of this were slim), you would still leave the three-month program a better employee.
You were going to learn Design Thinking techniques. You were going to be trained in how to give an awesome presentation. You were going to forge strong connections with new colleagues. Skills that would serve you for your entire career.
We designed the entire process, then a logo, then the website. We made shirts. And stickers. We had a launch event, and had special menus at the cafes all week. Customized spacesuits were on display. A social media campaign was created. We weren't kidding around.
The positive response was overwhelming, and exceed all expectations. 25% of the company's 13,000 employees worldwide visited our web site. We had 65 concept submissions, 13 with patent potential. People loved the program and were happy to know that the company was getting back to its innovative roots.
Our work was really, really good. I learned a lot of valuable lessons. Lessons that will serve me for my entire career. I will share them with you sometime.