In our last blog for Qmarkets we introduced you to the concept of Three Horizons and explained how this methodology can help you create a balanced long-term innovation portfolio. We also touched on why you might need to invest in a system to support your exploration activities, and in this blog we will share a case study that explains why this approach can be so successful.
Together with a team, we are deploying Qmarkets at Barenbrug, one of the oldest and most established players in the grass seed industry. With about 840 employees, active in more than 20 countries and six continents, Barenbrug have been experts in their field for over 100 years.
Innovation is critical for the long term success of any company, however in an industry which is led by technological and scientific development it’s even more critical. This is why innovation is embedded into the company’s DNA at Barenbrug, and part of the reason they chose to invite their employees to contribute to their innovation pipeline with the Qmarkets platform.
Sowing the Seven Seeds of Innovation
The configuration and deployment of Qmarkets started in February 2021 after a careful and elaborate selection process. While the platform is up and running, the deployment and onboarding is still ongoing as the company continues to scale the program. In the last piece, we shared 7 critical success factors for a three-horizon approach to innovation management. In this article we will now explain on a high level how these factors are being applied live in the Qmarkets tool for the benefit of Barenbrug.
1. Defining a Clear Innovation Strategy
The Barenbrug management team already had a clear strategy for the future. They have specified this in clear innovation targets and innovation themes. To reflect this, we have set up these innovation objectives directly in the Qmarkets tool. For every new idea raised, the submitter selects which innovation objective it is contributing to. This serves two goals:
- It makes the submitter consider if his idea actually fits the overarching strategy
- It allows Barenbrug to determine the development pipeline, measure what projects are fulfilling which objectives and identify potential gaps
2. Ensuring Management Buy-in
This is a very important success factor that is also supported by the Qmarkets tool:
- The platform supports news articles and welcome messages: allowing you to use this space for an important message from top management
- When challenges are created a sponsor can be shown, which is a good indicator for management support
- The reporting function allows both tactical as strategical reporting
All of the functionalities are being used by Barenbrug to aid in the success of the program.
3. Transparent Overview and Insights
On the Qmarkets system at Barenbrug an overview of all existing exploration activities will be available to all employees worldwide. We are still in the middle of onboarding new employees and registering and categorizing the existing initiatives in the right way. At the same time, new ideas are already being launched and following the new innovation process. In the coming months we will start running specific challenges.
At this time, everybody can see what status an idea or project has, who is working on the project and what the project team is doing, and even provide direct comments and feedback. In this way people can learn from each other and help each other.
4. Apply the Right Development Process
This is an area where a dedicated innovation platform such as Qmarkets is most critical and effective. In our platform, we have made a distinction between the regular product development process (H1/H2) and a process which is targeted on H2/H3 initiatives. This process caters for the more experimental projects and services.
We have been able to set up both processes in the Qmarkets tool. The way we set it up is that the system will actually guide the teams through the process: it indicates what needs to be done, and when and where to find more information in case teams get stuck. But of course, coaching and additional training are still required.
5. Established Idea Management Process
What we really like about Qmarkets is the possibility to combine the idea management system and the actual development process after selection of the ideas. With respect to the constant inflow, Qmarkets allows to set up generic or specific challenges, with all standard gamification principles to stimulate engagement with participants and ensure they are contributing in the right ways.
6. Diversity of Perspectives
A very important aspect for Barenbrug and one that is well catered for is the ability to promote collaboration and teamwork. In Qmarkets it is possible to request to “join an initiative” by simply clicking a button. This is especially valuable for us since we want to stimulate cross-opco collaboration.
Next to this you can also find colleagues by selecting on skills that you are looking for. This comes alongside a wide host of intuitive social functions and features that everyone is already familiar with to stimulate organic collaboration.
7. Learn and Adapt
Last but not least, if we are flexible in adjusting the process, the system also needs to be flexible. The good thing about Qmarkets is mostly about parametrization rather than customization. We can adjust most of the backend ourselves, so there is no continuous investment in changes.
We have been able to create one environment that enables and facilitates efficient collaboration and that holds all the relevant data. And we will certainly be able to expand further, which is something we can already foresee for the future.
Growing from Strength to Strength
Across this two-part article series we have explained the difference between innovation exploitation and exploration and introduced you to a wide variety of concepts and best-practices to aid in the success of an enterprise innovation program.
With this guidance, you are already in a much better position to launch and maintain an innovation initiative at your company. However this is just a taste of the full set of tools and tips you will need in order to ensure that your program is successful.
If you are interested in learning more, we would highly recommend joining our upcoming webinar! In this exclusive session we will deep-dive into the Three-Horizons approach to innovation management, and you will also have the opportunity to ask questions to our panel of experts. Simply click below and register now to secure your place in this webinar.