One of the biggest misconceptions about innovation is that it’s something done by a lone genius. Some computer whiz comes up with an idea, usually in a basement or a garage, that ends up changing the world overnight. Their idea was so good — so unique! so innovative! — that there was no way it couldn’t succeed.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Innovation takes work. At NewBoCo, we help people make their ideas into reality. We’ve worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, students, and companies to give them the resources and training they need to become successfully innovative. Our research and experience working with these groups uncovered four key components of high performance, innovative organizations:
- Culture, People, & Leadership: Innovation demands that leaders empower their teams to try new ideas and create a culture where ideas are allowed to fail.
- An Agile Mindset: Innovation requires companies to have a mindset that demands experimentation and iteration.
- Process & Methods: Innovative companies have methods and tools that let them innovate reliably across their entire organization.
- Strategy: Companies succeed when innovation is a core part of their organizational strategy — not just a buzzword used in meetings.
None of the components we found to be the most important for innovation were focused on the insight of one individual.
In order for innovation to be repeatable and sustainable, companies need to build a culture that embraces experimentation and rapid iteration. There are numerous resources to guide startups through this process, but the same resources don’t exist for established organizations that are larger and further along. Shifting a large organization’s strategy and mindset to be better able to capitalize on innovative new marketplace opportunities is a huge challenge that realistically takes years and continues indefinitely. It’s far easier for a startup to become innovative simply because they’re smaller and have fewer established practices.
That’s why we’re launching Intrapreneur Academy. Our Academy is designed to help companies get a baseline pulse on where their efforts are today and how we can help them move the needle. We want local companies to thrive in the face of upcoming economic changes, and in order to do that, they need to learn how to be innovative. Intrapreneur Academy is a year-long program where organizations can send a cross functional team to go through in-depth training on all four competencies of innovative organizations. Each quarter, Innovation Academy participants will dive deep into a different competency with workshops, networking groups, tours, and events. We’ll help teams make real and meaningful progress toward their innovation goals, and we’ll connect them to other forward-thinking organizations to explore best practices together. Intrapreneur Academy participants will also attend EntreFEST, the largest Midwestern gathering of entrepreneurs and creative thinkers, and receive discounted or free access to all other NewBoCo trainings and events to connect them to the innovation community growing right here in the Creative Corridor.
We’ve quietly started to spread the word about Intrapreneur Academy through a series of Sneak Peek events, and several local companies have already committed to joining our first cohort. So far, the organizations most interested in Academy have under 100 employees, but we’re open to working with any group who’s ready to make innovation a part of their organizational strategy.
We’re looking for 5–8 companies to join the organizations quoted below in our inaugural cohort when we launch in the second quarter. If you think your organization would benefit from infusing innovation into your strategy, contact NewBoCo’s Director of Innovation, Mandy Webber, at email@example.com to explore how Intrapreneur Academy can work for you. If we see enough interest, we’ll explore adding a second cohort in the Fall.
“Woofables is very excited to send three key employees to the inaugural Intrapreneur Academy. Left to our own devices, we’ll continue to do business as usual, and this is not good enough for our customers or our organization. By getting off-site, the facilitated format and content of this program is designed to help us creatively evaluate of what we do, how we do it, why we do it, and how we can do things better. If we do one or two things better (or differently) to improve our operations and/or grow our revenues, this Academy will be well worth the investment.”
The Intrapreneur Academy is a great opportunity to promote cross-departmental collaboration, gain practical tools for driving innovation and creating a vibrant community in Cedar Rapids which fits very nicely with the organizational health initiative we are currently implementing.
– City of Cedar Rapids
Given NewBoCo’s stellar reputation in successfully accelerating business ideas while driving the entrepreneurial spirit throughout the Corridor, I have no doubt that the Marion Process Solutions team will significantly raise our abilities to innovate through participating in the Intrapreneur Academy. It’s a natural outcome when you hang around A-grade thought leaders who know the business of innovation.
– Marion Process Solutions
The New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative is a nonprofit with the mission to accelerate world-changing ideas, from Iowa. The organization aims to create impactful startup businesses that grow here through its Iowa Startup Accelerator program and more; to foster world-class technical and creative talent via innovative educational programs for kids and adults; to assist thriving, innovative companies in developing new products and attracting the best talent through corporate innovation programs; and to make an outstanding social impact and make the world a better place. Since 2014, the program has grown dramatically, helping hundreds of startups get off the ground and grow, and thousands of children learn to code.