Sharing Innovations within Corporates

Tim Beeren

Tim Beeren

· 6 min read
Light bulbs, representation of innovations

Within big product-led companies, it can be hard to share ideas. We focus on creating impact within our product, optimising knowledge sharing within, and striving to be creative at the lowest level. However, what do you do with this awesome idea that pops up during a walk outside, in the shower, or when you can’t sleep because of inspiration?

Most corporate companies (> 100 product teams) tend to work with a vertical structure in which it is easy to share ideas within your department, but harder to reach others. Together with some peers, we shared the same boundary of not being able to completely think outside the box. You could try to think outside the box, but sharing your idea is hard, and most often does not lead to anything. This leads to individuals who’re asked to be creative and think outside the box, but are limited by their ability to get something started/ discussed.

As we all have seen, big ideas come from within the company. People who work day-to-day with the company tend to come up with really creative ideas - in case you’re providing them the tools to be able to do so. To give an example, the famous ‘Like button’ from Facebook was created in one of their hackathons. At the time, this was a small feature, but it grew into one of the biggest features for Facebook, which was the starting point of social media engagement. Another example will be AWS (Amazon Web Services). A thought that was completely out of the box - far away from the e-commerce space they were operating in - which turned out to be the biggest proposition from Amazon to date.

So how do we solve this? How do we enable companies to break the walls and open the floor to ideas - company-wide? How do we create an environment in which creative thinking is stimulated and everyone is free to be entrepreneurial?

Collaboration opens possibilities

Going back in time, Thomas Edison is most likely one of the best-known names for his invention of the lightbulb. However, he was not the one who really invented the technology. Forty years earlier (1835), James Bowman - together with some other engineers - created the first concept of the light bulb. This prototype was able to run electricity through copper - which gave it the glowing effect we all know. The problem they faced during the creation process was the oxidation of the copper filament, which did not lead to a commercially ready product.

Almost 45 years later, Thomas Edison combined two inventions to solve this problem. He used the vacuum pump technology from Joseph Swan to be able to stop the oxidation from happening. This combination of a mixture of thin carbon filament and the use of better vacuum pump technology, made him the first person to develop a truly commercially viable light bulb.

Well, cool, awesome story, you might think. So what am I trying to say here? By sharing innovations with the open public, you’ll be able to get different perspectives on ideas. Since one idea did not work out, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Someone else could shed some light 😉 on it and help you get started.

Spotlight ideas

Everyone deserves a spotlight on their ideas, which are worth spreading. Within the company I work for - I’ve created (together with two peers) a tool for sharing innovations. On this tool, it does not matter where you’re in the company. You can create a new innovation, and get engagement on your post. Whenever it reaches enough engagement and discussions, it will turn into a project/ initiative.

From testing sessions and our MVP, we found out that it provides a couple benefits. Employees get a bigger feeling of autonomy. Next to this, by removing the boundaries and walls of ideation, people started thinking outside the box. This enabled a space that provides a way of working that's referred to as a start-up style within a big corporate company.

How do I be creative in my ideation?

So cool, we’ve broken down the walls. How about being creative and thinking about ideas? A colleague of mine had a quote that I really liked:

“This is something I dislike so much; I hate it - and therefore I created a solution.”.

These kinds of projects can have a huge impact on larger companies. If you highly dislike something, I’m pretty sure you’re not the only one. He called this method HDD, or hate-driven Development. You don’t have to invent the new Like button, or AWS, but as a developer, you have the ability to turn problems into solutions. Brainstorm with others; spend a day thinking about a completely different department. With the little knowledge you have, what would you do differently? Or what looks weird to you? Stay within this creative process of "How can we improve?" and loads of ideas will follow. It’s always remarkable to me how little time we have, and how many of these little side projects pop into your mind whenever you don’t have the time for them. Wouldn’t it be great to share these ideas and profit from them all together?

What are the lessons learned?

In my opinion, these kinds of tips will help a corporation keep thinking like a small company. It helps them not to get stuck into the product-led way of thinking, in which everything has to be defined by OKR’s and measured by data points. Start organising hackathons, or reach out to teams to work on side initiatives. Don’t get scared of the unknown. Outside your comfort zone is where the real magic happens.

In conclusion, embracing knowledge sharing within your company is the key to fostering growth, collaboration, and productivity. By building a culture of open communication and continuous learning, you can create a competitive advantage and secure a successful environment within your team or product.

Tim Beeren

About Tim Beeren

Tim is a Full Stack Engineer specialising in Kotlin & React at, as well as being a music producer hobbyist and a lover of good coffee ☕️

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