Imagine a large public organisation. Imagine team presentations in front of members of the management board. And then imagine standing ovations, tears of joy and disappointment, teams celebrating under confetti rain — even though they “failed” to deliver. And all of this in Germany. I was baffled, too.
Using innovation to help change organisational culture
Earlier this year, the German agency for international development — Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GiZ) — asked for our support on an ambitious project: the GIZ Innovation Fund. As part of their wider digital strategy, a small team set out to give employees around the world the opportunity to experiment with technology to have a greater impact through their work. This would allow them to create digital exemplar projects for the organisation. The wider objective is to fundamentally change the organisational culture.
Consequently, everything around the project was done differently. Everyone in the organisation was invited to submit ideas. The six best ones were selected by a jury (including some private sector people) and through staff voting, a first for GIZ. In the end, more than 250 ideas were submitted. Staff campaigning for votes caused a server to crash.
Creating an accelerator programme for employees
The program for the six teams consisted of a kick-off boot camp, an accelerator program and financial funding to support the teams through prototyping and testing their ideas. After six intense months, MVPs were pitched to a jury, members of the management board, and colleagues in the headquarters. As well as live-streamed to 480 people from all over the world. It all culminated in the final pitch event where the two winning teams received further investment for scaling up.
This all might sound pretty straightforward to people with experience in bringing innovative thinking to large organisations. However, a program like this always looks good on paper, it’s the details that make it successful. We’d like to share three things we believe played a vital role in the success of the project: