• Personal Blog

    Posted on January 10th, 2015

    Written by Denis Finnegan


    Tesco Health and Wellbeing Innovation Programme

    For the last two years or so, I’ve been working on Innovation at Tesco Health and Wellbeing with the team and while Tesco have launched their own Innovation Master Plan for the business, which is a very heavyweight programme to take you from start to finish, I wanted something a little lighter but that I could use to train up a replacement Innovation Champion to take over from myself, as I had done with training up a Product Owner from our switch over to Agile through SCRUM. As a result I produced a document which you can access at the end of this article but I just wanted to share some of the highlights from the main section around what I believe to be the five pillars of Innovation.

    Innovation Pillars

    Innovation Light Bulb

    The innovation programme is built on five key pillars. Those being:

    1. Innovation Events
    2. The Innovation Network
    3. 20% Innovation Time
    4. Innovative Environment
    5. Innovation Toolkit

    Before getting into how the programme works on a practical basis we will explore each of these three pillars in a bit more detail to set the scene.

    Innovation Events

    Innovation Events are a key part of the innovation programme and these include:

    Innovation sessions are where the innovation champion kindles the idea of innovation, explaining what it is and how to create an innovative mind-set and environment and where the latest trends and innovative ideas can be shared and discussed freely and openly and where some fun creativity challenges and games can indulge people into the sense of play required to spark this innovative culture.

    It includes Innovation Workshops where brainstorming and ideation can take place ahead of a cutting edge project, new product developement or ahead of an Innovation Days and Hackathons. The PO, Innovation Champion or anyone serves as facilitator and conducts the workshop.

    Lastly, it includes Innovation Days & Hackathons which can be anything from one or two working day events to a continuous 24 hour session where teams from two to five people take a concept from inception to build and demo it at the end of this period to their colleagues.

    The Innovation Network

    The Innovation Network is a virtual hub for innovation enthusiasts to share ideas ahead of innovation sessions or just for general consumption. To plan upcoming events, to track the progress of peoples 20% (20% of their working week Innovation Time Project), access a list of ideas, stakeholders and potential resources including; who in the business has experience in various technical or business knowledge fields, relevant to the business goals.

    Key to this space is creating an innovation “network” on whatever intranet site(s) the business has available where internal entrepreneurs could share their stories and ideas, and get connected to others who were interested in solving customer problems in new ways. It should have an Ideas Board where ideas can be placed for all to see and people can nominate and volunteer to participate on their favourite idea or project.

    Furthermore and in the case of Tesco Health and Wellbeing, a key part of this Innovation Network is to connect with colleagues in the main business through tools like the Hub (Sharepoint) and Yammer so as to spark ideas across business units that will help to drive innovation on a larger scale.

    Innovation Time

    This is one of the most critical aspects of the innovation programme, it is heavily based on the idea of Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Following in the likes of 3M, Atlassian and Google, we free up 20% of our colleagues time for working on innovation and new product development. This is effectively one day per week, for each employee who chooses to take it. Those who do must compile an end of day report to go up on the Intranet or “The Innovation Network”, that shows what they have been working on and what progress they have made so that there is accountability for the work they have completed, so that others can see where their progress and perhaps join the effort. For those who don’t want to participate, the will continue with their normal work duties. The successes of such programmes take belief and persistent determination and should not be tightly constrained in terms of what the team should work on. General goals such as improve the customer’s or your colleagues lives should be the guiding principle. This allows the hackathons or innovation days to be much more focused and for these ideas to be built on and progressed during the 20% Innovation time.

    Innovative Environment

    A stimulating environment is important for helping colleagues think creatively. From colourful surroundings and comfortable; safe areas for debate, to stimulating games and activities which groups can engage in together, this helps to gel colleagues together and build bonds of trust and emotional investment but more importantly, the key to an innovative environment, is sharing knowledge. When people share and collaborate on ideas, this is when some of the most powerful innovative ideas can emerge. Not only is networked ideas however a critical part of the ideation process but sharing knowledge and ideas and feeling safe in doing so, is also most important. Feeling that you can share an idea without being ridiculed or dismissed is critical to the confidence needed to try out new ideas.

    Innovation Toolkit

    Last in the pillars is the Toolkit. The tool kit is important in telling new colleagues now to operate within this innovative environment and how they can participate in events, how I should interact with this team and where they can find resources. It also however, should serve as complete instructions for anyone who wishes to take up the role of Innovation Champion and HBAB.


    Download the Innovation Programme Document

    I will share the document in due course but I need first to go through it to remove any business sensitive information. If you have any questions in the meantime however, feel free to contact me at d e n i s f i n n e g a n @ g m a i l . c o m

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