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How to get started with corporate innovation workshops [With our process!]

October 10, 2023

Brigitta Gyoerfi

Brigitta brings a wealth of experience and a remarkable track record within the financial services and healthcare sectors. At Tenity, she's a Partner Innovation Lead, leading corporate innovation programs for key partners.

How to get started with corporate innovation workshops [With our process!]

If you work at a corporate and are looking to do workshops for innovation, then you may:

  • Be at the beginning of your innovation journey and are unsure where to start.
  • Have done innovation before and haven’t reached the KPIs you were hoping for.
  • Be looking to explore new growth opportunities in new technologies like web3 and AI, but aren’t sure how to.

At Tenity, we operate as an open innovation ecosystem for corporates and startups. Part of that is helping corporates with bespoke corporate innovation programmes, where we run multiple workshops that help train, educate and align everyone on the team.

Over the years, we’ve run hundreds of workshops for corporates like SIX, UBS, Julius Baer and more. Personally, I’ve been an innovation strategist since I first worked at Credit Suisse, and I now work at Tenity as a Partner Innovation Lead, where I run workshops for our corporate partners. 

In this article, I’ll share my experience running workshops and details about how we run ours at Tenity:

Note: Is your company looking to do corporate innovation workshops? Reach out to us to see how we can help you.

When does it make sense for a corporate to do an innovation workshop?

Corporate innovation cannot be done in just one workshop. It should happen across an entire programme, where every step has very tangible outputs which are communicated with the corporate team, sponsors and key stakeholders.

So when does it make sense to kickstart an innovation programme? The straight answer is: whenever a company has decided it’s time to instill more innovation within the organisation.

Based on my experience, these triggers usually take place when:

  • An existing product or service is losing market share and is seeing an increase in competition.
  • You’re looking to explore new growth opportunities.
  • You want to take advantage of a new technology (e.g. web3 or AI).
  • A new leadership has come in that is looking to transform the organisation.

What does a workshop look like in practice? The best way to explain this is to look at how we run workshops at Tenity:

How we run innovation workshops at Tenity

There are a few principles by which we run workshops at Tenity:

1. The goal is for you to eventually run your own innovation workshops

Working with someone one-off to do a workshop will only take you so far. If you really want to be responsive to future opportunities, your company needs to have the resources in place to run your own workshops. 

That’s why when we first work with a corporate partner, we invest time setting corporate innovation strategy objectives together, and a big part of our workshops is doing trainings and bootcamps.

2. You should be able to repeat them as many times as necessary

Our workshop programmes are very structured and follow a specific framework and playbook. These resources are shared with you so that you have everything you need to run them yourselves. Ideally, you can then embed this into your operating model for the best success.

By making workshops part of your DNA, we’re able to help you build a portfolio of new ideas, while also supporting you build an internal team that can experiment with new ways of working together.

3. Workshops should speed up the process of innovation

A lot of corporates struggle with executing fast because of the number of people involved in every step. Our objective with these workshops is to reduce the time between creating a new product and its arrival on the market. We do this via incremental innovation management that makes it easy to quickly incorporate market responses.  

Here’s what a typical Tenity innovation programme looks like in practice:

Module 1: Exploration Phase (5 weeks)

The purpose of this phase is: To define the starting point of the current situation (business, operational or organisational) and identify future opportunities.

You can’t start running workshops without first understanding where the business stands in the current situation. That’s why in this phase, we’re trying to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the corporate.

We ask questions like:

  • What are the key capabilities and competitive advantages of your company?
  • What do you do that is hard to copy?

Based on this initial analysis, we then see how we can combine these strengths with a new technology or new capabilities, as well as new potential new markets. We then assess and evaluate the profit potential and business model.

With this “audit” we can then narrow down into areas where we see that there is high potential and good chance of success. The goal is to find a solution problem fit as well as build a minimum viable product. Here’s what this looks like on a step by step basis:

  1. Kick off: During this session, we work with the corporate to define business goals, success metrics and the governance framework. Stakeholders share the strategic focus areas and agree on the initial scope of project(s). We will define communication and collaboration innovation tools to adopt during the period of 4 months.
  2. (Optional) Agile leadership training: This is optional training for participants who feel they need it. Those who take part learn how leadership works today based on the agile methodology, specifically on how interdisciplinary teams are formed and managed. They will understand how goal-setting, decision-making, delegation and oversight is established in the agile world to create more accountability and organised teams.
  3. Exploratory research: During this research phase, which usually lasts 3 weeks, we conduct user research to understand the market, emerging technologies, competitor landscape, customer needs, and potential challenges. 
  4. Opportunity and activity prioritisation: In this last week of the exploration phase, our experienced coaches help facilitate a 4 hour workshop where we share our findings, map out the company’s capabilities and brainstorm how to take the core capabilities and turn them into new market opportunities. 
tenity corporate innovation workshop

The output after the exploration phase is:

  • We’ve defined opportunities and actions to take.
  • We’ve agreed on the collaboration method we’ll use. 
  • We’ve defined a project plan or roadmap on how the program will be run

Once the “challenge space” (the challenge the corporate wants to solve) is established, we then continue onto the next stage.

Module 2: Discovery Phase (11 weeks)

The purpose of this phase is: To agree on who the key customers or key users are, understand what their current experiences are and what the opportunities are. Based on this understanding we set up hypotheses on what type of solutions we can look at.

Here’s what takes part in the discovery phase:

  1. (Optional) Agile bootcamp: This bootcamp is for participants who are new to agile methodologies and provides a foundation for people to understand Design Thinking, Lean Startup and Scrum. Through various exercises, participants understand which framework to use and when. 
  2. Governance and organisation: Based on the “actions” we’ve agreed on before, we work together to help decide which team structure would work best within the team. This includes deciding on the rituals, the schedule, team structures and for everyone to commit to their roles. 
  3. Understand the challenge: During this phase, employees and stakeholders get a deeper understanding of customer needs and pain points through research. We look for patterns, themes and connections around user needs and business opportunities. This allows us to then build user or employee journeys. 
  4. Imagine the “what if” situation: Once we’ve done all this research, we do a series of 4 hour workshops where the team proceeds to explore as many potential approaches to solving the challenges. The team then sets priorities based on the desirability of the target audience. The outcome here is a backlog of ideas, concepts and redefined customer journeys.
  5. Create new solutions: Once we’ve agreed on the different approaches, we conduct experiments on various solutions to understand its desirability, viability and feasibility. The team concentrates on the most critical assumptions that they wish to test with the target group. They build prototypes and define experiments to test solution concepts and the most critical assumptions. For example, if it’s a digital solution, we’ll create wireframes and storyboards. At this stage we’ll also gather test candidates to collect feedback.
  6. Activate: once we’ve prototyped various solutions and experimented with design, the team then goes out to test the solutions with direct users and stakeholders. The team reiterates solutions based on the learning and sets-up a sprint plan for delivery. 

Throughout this phase, there’s a lot of fast learning, back and forths, and testing. Our objective is to end up with a solution that we have a high confidence that works. We’ll also end up with strong feedback from end-users, colleagues, stakeholders and define a sprint plan to deliver ideas. We want to start thinking about, “how can we build it into the minimum viable product?”. 

discovery innovation workshop

And that’s when the last module comes in:

Module 3: Delivery phase

The purpose of this phase: To turn ideas from previous phases into workable MVPs, which can also be tested and grown in the market.

Here’s what this phase consists of: 

  1. (Optional) Product owner training: To ensure this phase goes smoothly, there should be a product owner in place. This training will help the product owners understand what is expected of them and how they should support the product team. This includes maintaining a clear vision, understanding how to manage a product backlog, communicating the right amount of information, and accepting or rejecting work results.
  2. (Optional) Agile coaching: Again, we offer coaches that will train teams on how to implement agile methodologies.
  3. Sprint planning: In collaboration with the product owner, during sprint planning sessions the product owner describes the objective of the sprint and what it will include. 
  4. Sprint review: Once the sprint is done, the project team presents what has been achieved during the sprint. The product owner and other stakeholders are invited to provide feedback and discuss the product stage. The outcome should help with future sprint planning.
  5. Sprint retrospective: This is an event where the team reflects on what went well during the sprint, what didn’t go well and what can be done to improve it. This event contributes and helps the open feedback culture of the firm and helps enable continued learning and acceptance of failure.

Why work with Tenity to do your corporate innovation workshop?

Now that you hopefully understand better how we run innovation programmes, why do corporates like to partner with us? Here are a few reasons:

You’ll get access to the latest knowledge

At Tenity, we operate as an open innovation ecosystem. Within our ecosystem we have corporate partners, startups, mentors and a lot more:

  • We receive 2,500 applications from startups every year.
  • 270 startups have graduated from our own programs so far and more graduate every year.
  • We’re present in 6 countries.
  • We’ve syndicated $370M across our startups.
  • We have 200+ mentors.

As Luigi Vignola, Head Markets at Julius Baer, explains:

“It’s a bit of a laboratory for us. We can throw in questions and see if somebody can come up with a smart solution without using too much of our own resources, which are largely committed to the day-to-day processes.” 

By being surrounded by so many different parts of the innovation ecosystem and by partnering with both startups and corporates, we’ve seen a lot of different use cases. That’s knowledge that we share with our corporate partners, and comes through in our workshops.

We don’t only work as a facilitator, but we can also critique, consult and help direct our corporate partners a lot more easily. We’ve developed an experienced gut instinct over the years, and it’s in our DNA. It means we are a lot more poised to support corporates on their innovation journey.

You get deep expertise in financial services

Most innovation ecosystems operate across multiple verticals. But not us: we primarily work in financial service and insurance. This gives us much deeper expertise and experience that also comes through via our workshops and corporate trainings.

We’ve helped large financial institutions like Julius Baer, UBS and SIX partner with startups, and use that partnership to enable corporate innovation. Some examples include:

And many more. You can read more about how corporates and fintech startups have collaborated here: Corporate Success Stories

You’ll work with a company that understands corporate innovation inside out  

It can be hard to understand what successful corporate innovation looks like if you haven’t experienced yourself. 

At Tenity, we were born from corporate innovation. We were initially part of SIX, the Swiss Stock Exchange, and then eventually we spun out into an independent company. The Tenity team itself is composed of people who come from big corporations, including Credit Suisse, UBS and Zurich Insurance.

We’ve seen corporate innovation from an internal perspective, and via our startup incubation and accelerator programmes, we also see the ins and outs of working with startups. These two perspectives put us in a great position to advise corporates. 

We also understand that to drive innovation process is more than matching a company with a startup. We support every step of the collaboration, from first meeting to MVP to ensure a collaboration lasts.

Doing regular corporate innovation workshops will help drive innovation in your company 

Corporate innovation workshops are an excellent way for corporates to learn how to innovate effectively and build this into their operating system. Fintech is an area where many new opportunities are springing up, and our corporate innovation workshops are an ideal opportunity for corporates to get in on the fintech act and learn about the latest trends. 

If you’re looking for support with corporate innovation workshops, reach out to us to see how we can help you.