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Author's profile photo Nicolas Bost

an idea: Innovation Garden

In project SURGE, we follow the vision to help organizations transform into “Innovation Champions”. What do we mean with that?

Well, we would love to see that companies have a sustainable culture that triggers the identification or creation of ideas that help them improve their work. In the Best Case, that triggers a constant stream of new innovative solutions.

One important aspect for that is collaboration. We talked about that already here and there.

But when thinking further, the next question coming to my head was: Imagine we have achieved to create a culture where everyone is collaborating like there is no tomorrow – how can we establish a constant flow of new innovative ideas come up? On the one hand, we can hope for individuals to make use of this new culture and be intrinsically motivated enough to recognize a possibility for improvement, identify the right people to work on the solution and then implement it. But maybe instead of hoping for the world to become better, we might also use the chance and push it a little.

But is there maybe a room to give employees some capacity for innovative activities?

What came to my mind is the introduction of a virtual space to help ideas grow. Think of your idea like a seed: Imagine you can bring your seed into a garden where gardeners are there to help you plant your seed, find the right experts that know how seeds of that type grow best and whom you should ask for help to take care of your seed. This garden could be setup like an open house with staff that fluctuates, maybe even a voluntary project of people who are interested in gardening.

Innovation Garden

(source: SAP Image Library)

So wouldn’t it be nice to have something like an “Innovation Garden” in your company? A voluntary place (might be a virtual place!) where employees can contribute if they are interested in developing innovative solutions and learning new skills outside of their comfort zone. To empower employees to become a part of this, Executive Sponsors could host an event similar to “Shark Tank”/”Höhle der Löwen” regularly where ideas can be pitched and budget can be assigned to the most promising project ideas. Or a virtual voting could happen across the company to see which idea is be seen as the most helpful one. Individual KPIs for Gardening participation on both management and employee level could help to avoid conflicting goals.

As I said, just some ideas which will hopefully grow further (like a planted seed 😉 ) .

Would love to get some feedback to this – do you have something similar in your company?


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      Author's profile photo Raffael Herrmann
      Raffael Herrmann

      Hi Nicolas,

      that's a neat idea. At our company we currently have nothing like an "innovation garden". If ideas come up they will be discussed straight away, but a place where everybody could see and raise his colleague's idea and/or spread new seeds to be seen from all - no that's nothing that exists right now.

      You mentioned multiple times that this can be a virtual place. Have you thought about practical implementations? I tried to think about our tool stack and if some of the existing tools might be a "fit" to host such innovation garden. And yes, maybe one could use a boards like Jira or MS planner or Microsoft Teams or a share notebook, but I get the feeling that this would only be a compromise and would be deconstructive/ineffective. I think to "implement" a successful innovation garden, the tooling must be intuitive and ubiquitous. Otherwise the toolset could lead to slow downs, lower creativity and community acceptance.

      Unfortunately I can't think of a better solution right now. That's why I like to know how you personally imagine such innovation garden? How should it look like for you? Is it clean and simple tool or is it more color- and playfully designed? Is it a website, a board, a regular meeting or maybe a "game"(-software)?

      Thanks for seeding this idea into my head. 🙂

      Author's profile photo Nicolas Bost
      Nicolas Bost
      Blog Post Author

      Hey Raffael,

      thanks for your feedback. Happy to hear that you like the idea 🙂

      Regarding tooling: Good question - as usual, I think it's tricky to answer which is the best tool for communication. In general, I think it should either be the tool that has the broadest adoption to lower the entrance barriers or it should be a new one developed specifically for this scenario. (Maybe a good starting point for the garden: To build the garden itself?).

      MS Teams should be able to facilitate here - at the end, you can always use an Excel document to track idea description + contact person + status. A series of blogs with portraits of the individual projects could be published either in the intranet or even a public communtiy page like this one here.

      I guess you need a facilitator for this virtual commnunity. Someone who owns the moderation, coordinates communication for garden-internal and company-wide stakeholders about the progress. Someone who invites to the Shark Tank pitch meeting.

      I don't have any practical experience here, we would need to look for a first volunteer........... 😉