Intrapreneurship is not something that can be established within a company from one day to the next.

One of the most adaptable and effective models for intrapreneurship is Kickbox; an innovation process in a self-contained kit. These boxes are a way to transcend hierarchies and turn all of your employees into entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and innovators; for them to experience and learn Lean Startup methods with their own projects. Inside the box are the tools the employee needs to start developing a new idea that will add value to your company. Adobe originally pioneered the idea and released it under the Creative Commons license so that other companies could build on it.

The Kickbox concept has helped organizations increase the quality, quantity and speed of innovation. Moreover, organizations that have deployed Kickbox have seen employees report increased job satisfaction and engagement as well as increasing their efficiency and effectiveness in their daily work.

400+ Innovation Projects In Two Years

Swisscom, the largest Swiss TelCo, has taken the concept of the Kickbox and really run with it, developing and building out on the program to develop an efficient, effective bottom-up intrapreneurship program with a repeatable process for success. Using Kickbox, Swisscom has validated 400+ innovation projects within two years.

David Hengartner heads up Swisscom Kickbox from “The Pirates Hub,” an open innovation lab in Zurich where he is focused on fostering innovation culture and empowering employees. He spoke at our conference in Madrid about what Swisscom has done with Kickbox and how you can make it work for your company, and will host a workshop at our upcoming conference in Paris (10-12 April 2019) too.

Swisscom’s Kickbox Framework

Every employee with a great idea that adds value to Swisscom can apply for a Kickbox internally. The physical boxes are very gamified and playful, containing a variety of materials from a literal “secret sauce” (an actual spicy sauce they branded) and gummy bears, to day-passes for Impact Hub and other 3rd party partner items.

The Red Box is the first stage. This contains a starting balance of CHF 1,000 that can be invested wherever needed to make the employees idea work: hardware, partnerships, tech, et al. The time budget is another important factor; 20% of the employee’s time can be allotted for the project. The box also contains a handbook that guides the employee through the process and gives them resources to seek out experts within as well as outside the organization.

About 80-90% of participants drop out after the first two months but they report feeling more motivated and inspired in their daily jobs. For the remaining participants, they move on to receive a Blue Box. At this stage, they are still committing only 20% of their time, but they are given four to six months and are allotted significantly more resources and funding.

About 2-3% of projects per year make it to the Gold Box stage. This is when they get to scale the project, taking it from a pilot to a full time, funded project internally or as a spinoff joint-venture.

Swisscom has developed a digital platform to manage all these projects and timeboxing in one place. This allows management to view every project, who is working on it, and what stage it’s currently in. The platform also functions as a resource for program participants and includes a marketplace for third-party experts as well as a directory of internal experts and Kickbox intrapreneurs.

What’s Come Out of It So Far?

The projects coming out of Swisscom Kickbox range from paintings to security platforms. One team looking to sell paintings coming out of art schools is building the blockchain for digital art. This is also a value add for Swisscom who will be able to offer it as a service to customers, allowing them to turn their televisions into art galleries. Another project, currently in the Gold Box phase, is a smartphone app for Swisscom TV being built by Millennials to target Millennials in an effort to get them more connected to television content.
An idea for vending machines that dispense tech gadgets in high-traffic locations like train stations is currently in a live, six-month trial. Meanwhile, a team from the security division recognized that security risks posed by drones were going unaddressed. That team is working on a project called Drone Guard which is already being used to monitor drone activity and protect critical infrastructure and events from potential drone attacks.

Measuring Impact

Swisscom partnered with Imperial College in London and ETH Zurich to validate and quantify the transformation impact of Swisscom Kickbox. For a year and a half, the two institutions have been conducting interviews with Swisscom employees and results thus far are very promising. They are seeing employees become intrinsically motivated champions who are going the extra mile, performing better, and reporting significantly increased job satisfaction.

The Kickbox initiative has had a tremendous positive impact on company culture. Dedicated annual events that demo their top projects get top management together with employees and investors to keep excitement and involvement high at all levels which is especially important for a bottom-up movement like this.

Swisscom’s vision is to build an Open Innovation Ecosystem with corporates, startups, universities, investors, and service providers.
Innovators across the board face the same types of problems. Swisscom has been able to solve many common pain points of innovation through their Kickbox initiative. So, they did a test run, offering their version of Kickbox to several other companies. The results were outstanding. Swisscom has now decided to offer and co-develop their combination of physical Kickboxes and the complementary digital platform with interested companies.

The refined Kickbox model is designed to be deployed at other companies to boost intrapreneurship and promote a culture of innovation. The online platform and processes bolster and simplify these cross-corporate initiatives, bringing together experts and Kickboxers from all over the world on one platform. Each partnership and co-development project using their model with other companies, exponentially multiplies the opportunities for growth and successful intrapreneurship.

Want to Start Kickboxing Too?

Join David for his workshop during Innov8rs Paris or contact us here.