In this case study talk, Rudi Broos provides tips on how to setup a bootcamp in a big organization. Typically, bootcamps are grassroots innovation processes. Employees can come up with ideas and even develop them further, but also, as individuals are able to grow from such programs.
When setting up bootcamps there is a lot that you need to decide about: who will be in charge of the program? Will you involve all employees or handpick a few? What sorts of ideas are you looking for? How much revenue are you looking to gain from new ideas?
Following are tips and insights that Broos shared in his video, from his experience of setting up boot camps for 6 years while working Alcatel-Lucent (which was later acquired by Nokia).
- You need to have a budget. You shouldn’t get people motivated and go through a bootcamp and then tell them: “sorry there is not enough money to take it to the next level”.
- Even though bootcamps are a grassroots process, it all starts with the support of the CEO. Your CEO needs to believe that the company’s employees are able to come up with good ideas and have the skills to execute. Otherwise, don’t implement bootcamps and instead buy startups.
- You need some kind of governance or jury that decides who can go to the next level.
- Provide a challenge that is strategically aligned. You need to frame the challenge, and at the same time it needs to be inspirational. If you make it too vague like “a new business for the company”, it means that there is no vision. Try to narrow it down, for example: “How can the company make electric cars better?”
- Put a time limit. Give employees 30 days to submit an idea but obviously don’t give that option every month.
- Give inspiration and triggers for people to come up with good ideas: organize guest lectures, movies, brainstorming sessions, etc.
- Provide transparency. Everyone should be able to see all the other ideas and be able to give comments.
- Give your colleagues an opportunity to submit an idea anonymously if they want to (especially if you allow for transparency).
- Have a simple online application template. Not one with thousands of questions. For example, use (or adapt) the Lean Canvas for that.
- Have the jury first select the best ideas (not the best people). But also have the jury give feedback to everyone. If people have a bad experience they will not join again and also won’t encourage their colleagues to join.
- After you select the 10 best ideas or so, you form multidisciplinary teams of 4 -5 team members, preferably from the same location.
- Let the Idea Owner decides who joins the team and one month to do it. They can look from their own pool, you can give them time to present their ideas in a little booth during lunch, thinks of different ways for them to reach out.
- Have the jury then pick the best teams to go into the bootcamp.
- Don’t have a super short bootcamp. Broos recommends two months.
- Take participants out of their comfort zone. Organize meetings off-site, meet-and-greet sessions, bring other entrepreneurs, give courses, have external and internal coaches to help.
- Definitely have an external coach. Employees are more likely to listen to the external coach simply because they are external, but also they can bring in the bad news (for example when something is not going to work).
- Cozy environment. Let people pitch and present their MVPs in a fun and interactive place, not in a lecture hall.
- Bring these three principles to a bootcamp: autonomy (it’s their own idea), mastery (new info, insights, courses, skills, people…), purpose (you define what you want to work on).