August 30, 2008
Innovation Slush Funds

Nortel, the fiber optics giant, allocates pools of money (or "innovation slush funds") at different organizational levels for any idea a manager thinks has great potential, but doesn't want to be accountable for the bottom-line result. Very cool.

A client of mine, at Michelin, does a similar thing. He is authorized to distribute as much as $10,000 to aspiring innovators who have done their homework and are able to convince him that their high potential projects need a bit funding to get untracked. Also very cool.

What I like about this approach is that it sidesteps the bureaucratic hokey pokey, run-it-up-the-flagpole, command and control, funky chicken shuffle that all too often scuttles powerful new ideas in need of a timely infusion of capital to get them rolling.

Of course, these "innovation slush fund" scenarios require some trust and clearly defined evaluation criteria to keep things on the up and up -- but that is simply done. No Six Sigma required. It's such a simple thing to do and can radically reduce the time it takes for breakthrough ideas and aspiring innovators to make magic happen in your organization.

In what ways can YOU establish some kind of innovation slush fund this month? And if you have already done so, click "comments" below and let us know how it's working out.

And remember, as one wise pundit put it, "It's not the money that starts the idea, it's the idea that starts the money."

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at August 30, 2008 09:30 PM

Comments

This post was written up in the Boston Globe's "business blog," the Business Filter by Maura Welch, on January 15th --

"Innovation slush funds

"Source: Heart of Innovation

"Want to unlock some innovation? Set up a slush fund. Fiber optics company Nortel provides 'innovation slush funds at different organizational levels for any idea a manager thinks has great potential, but doesn't want to be accountable for the bottom-line result.' Michelin will offer up to '$10,000 to aspiring innovators' who can prove that they high potential projects that only 'need a bit funding to get untracked.' To sum it up Mitch Ditkoff quotes a wise unnamed pundit who said, 'It's not the money that starts the idea, it's the idea that starts the money.' "

http://www.boston.com/business/blog/filter/2008/01/innovation_slus.html

Thanks, Maura -- nice digest of the post.

Posted by: Bill Ross [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 23, 2008 11:54 AM

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