Explosion of ideas
How an innovation challenge became the fly wheel in reigniting the innovation culture.
Who is VELUX Group?
VELUX Group is a Danish manufacturing company specializing in roof windows and skylights. They have manufacturing and sales operations in more than 40 countries worldwide.
“One experiment is better than a thousand expert views.”
What did they aim to achieve?
In 2018, David Briggs was appointed CEO of the VELUX Group. An avid believer in entrepreneurship, he decided to reignite the company’s culture of experimentation and exploration with the ambition to remain relevant for years to come.
How we did it
The top-level commitment to the innovation challenge was a key driver and ensured company-wide participation. Management at all levels displayed commitment to the innovation challenge, supporting the initiative and allocating the necessary resources. A dedicated project manager was assigned to run the challenge.
As a global company with variations in culture from country to country, VELUX Group needed different approaches to engaging and motivating employees. To bridge the gap, ambassadors were appointed at each of VELUX Group’s 65 sites across the world.
In order to reach as many employees as possible, the call for ideas was translated into seven languages. This was of particular importance for reaching blue collar workers who make up approximately 50% of VELUX Group’s workforce.
The VELUX Group generated 450 ideas in the first 48 hours of the challenge launch and over 2,000 ideas by the end, with blue collar workers submitting 380 ideas.
Six finalist teams were later invited to attend an idea maturation bootcamp, with one day dedicated to rapid prototyping. Teams collaborated with prototyping specialists who used 3-D printing to bring ideas to life. This enabled teams to quickly discover flaws in their initial ideas and adjust. The end result was tangible models that were presented to
judges at the final pitch.
- 3 ideas received funding
An important lesson from the VELUX Group´s Innovation Challenge is that it’s never too late! One idea author who received funding was nearing his retirement and never thought his idea would see the light of day [ironically for a window company ;)] Now, it’s being tested on the market. As the idea author himself said,
“I didn’t think I could learn anything new at my age, but I did.”
Given the complexity and highly uncertain nature of the second idea, a proposed expansion of VELUX Group’s product line, the project is currently under further exploration.
Last but not least, the winning idea of the challenge, also a proposed expansion of VELUX Group’s product line, is currently on hold. Following the innovation challenge, the project team conducted market research and gained insights from specifiers, installers and customers. The conclusion was quite clear that market wasn’t prepared for the solution at the moment. While an initial disappointment for the idea team, this is exactly what front-end innovation is all about – fast learning iterations. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t, but the bottom line is VELUX Group learned fast and minimized the resources and costs associated with the project.