Medium to large sized organizations are always trying to find ways they can increase their innovation quotient.
Look no further than the Shark Tank TV show where entrepreneurs come to pitch their ideas and hopefully win investment.
The next time your organization is thinking about getting a department, a division, any portion of the firm together to share information etc…think about doing a “Shark Tank”.
- Break your people up into teams that each represent a nice segmentation of roles, depts, whatever you think will give them the tools, variety, and creativity they need. The best size is probably 5-6 people per team
- Task each team with coming up with a creative effective idea for your dept, division, whatever.
- Give them a very limited time (maybe 3-4 hours) to discuss what their idea should be, work it out a bit, and come up with a pitch that includes cost vs. benefit.
- Build a team of sharks that includes both management and savvy/trusted non-management. They will be the panel that reviews all the teams ideas
- Have the teams present (don’t allow management to present) for up to 10 minutes in front of everybody
- Allow for 5 mins of Q&A from the Sharks in-front of everybody.
- Do some online polling in waves after 4 or so have presented so that people remember which ones each of them are.
- Give the sharks the results of the polls, but let them pick the winner from among each wave.
- If the sharks want to negotiate with one of the teams to drop or add parts of the idea, they can.
After your get together is over, the winning team(s) should be given some additional time (maybe 20 hours) to continue enhancing and fleshing out their idea. They should get an opportunity to pitch again in a more prepared fashion. The shark tank panel should also be prepared this time around. If you have enough teams in the second round, you may even want a third round.
Keep the full population of your original dept, division, full organization (whatever you started with) apprised of the progress. Who did you pick and why?
A session like that will be fun for your team, will get their innovation juices flowing, will get each team of cross-functional employees to know each other well in order to build bridges across groups after the session, and will hopefully create a pipeline of possible projects for your org.
Keep a summary of each pitch along with the people involved and a link to any powerpoint or other images they presented. You never know when a non-winning idea will spark a winning one outside of the Shark Tank “game”.
Post in the comments if you have done anything like this in your organization and whether it was successful.