Published on 25 January 2019

Why the Innovation Programme boosts your idea

The innovation programme has helped our team to prioritise turning a rough idea into an innovation. We started with circularity as a starting point in combining our experience and knowledge of the Circular Economy in a programme: +Circular Design. It serves to help designers to test and further develop the circularity of their designs.

We started with what was still a rather unpolished idea, in which each team member had his own vision of what +Circular Design should look like, what it should be able to do exactly and which designs should be helped with our +Circular Design tool. As a team we took part in the first sessions of the Innovation Bootcamp. During these sessions we were challenged to refine our idea, we were given tips for developing our elevator pitch and we were forced to get all members of the team behind one vision. We were given the space to work on our idea, and had the motivation to do so every week. After all, in the next Innovation bootcampsession we had to continue with our idea. The milestones in the programme provided interim achievable goals. 

As an engineering firm, we are focused on content and knowledge. In the Plus+ Innovation programme there is a lot of room for matters such as team composition and division of roles within a team. Which qualities is the team still lacking and who can we look for? Does each person within the team have the right role? We paid a lot of attention to this in the beginning. For example, one person was involved with the customer, the other with the technical development of +Circular Design. We noticed that we missed some expertise and roles within the team. This led to the involvement of several other colleagues in our innovation, from different disciplines within our company. We were not busy with trying to protect our innovation, actively involving people in the development has done us a lot of good.

Another matter also emerged halfway through the innovation process. After working on our idea for a while, we developed a tunnel vision. We were busy developing the tool and focused less on involving our departments such as Communications, Legal Affairs and ICT. These are supporting departments that like to help in creating innovation, but also look at our innovation from a different perspective than we as a team. Until then, we had not thought deeply about practical matters such as privacy, cyber security and legal liability. In addition, the Plus+ Innovation programme has not only contributed to content but also to our connections with departmental employees, who are not easily encountered in daily work. 

During the last weeks we have been working hard to get the first beta version of +Circular Design online. This has now been achieved and to ultimately be declared the winner of the Plus+ Innovation programme was, of course, a wonderful acknowledgement for our work in recent months. The Innovation programme was a catalyst for the creation of +Circular Design and has provided energy and support for its development. 

Of course, the end of the Innovation programme is not the end of +Circular Design and we will continue to professionalise. Our planning for 2019 is full of good intentions. The next dot on the horizon is to develop into a model that colleagues can work with independently, by working on, among other things, its usability and varying options. 

Team +Circular Design: Joris van den Acker, Matthijs Stam, Iris Snijders Blok, Milicia de Kok and Coen Teeuw

 

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