“Launchpad’s vision has been to allow every employee across the company to suggest ideas and receive support and coaching to commercialize those ideas. We also wanted to be able to deliver financial impact to the business through employee-generated innovative ideas and to increase employee engagement and satisfaction.”
Director of Intraprenership
VOLUNTEER INNOVATION CHAMPIONS
Orbia is a company driven by a shared purpose: to advance life around the world, operating in the Polymer Solutions (Vestolit and Alphagary), Building and Infrastructure (Wavin), Precision Agriculture (Netafim), Data Communications (Dura-Line) and Fluorinated Solutions (Koura) sectors with commercial activities in more than 110 countries and operations in over 50, employing more than 23,000 people worldwide. The five Orbia businesses and their commercial brands have a collective focus on expanding access to health and wellness, reinventing the future of cities and homes, ensuring food and water security, connecting communities to data infrastructure and accelerating a sustainable, circular economy with basic and advanced materials and solutions.
At the heart of Orbia’s culture is its shared purpose of advancing life around the world. The company aims to establish an environment in which innovation can systematically be fostered and integrated into everything they do. “By taking this approach together, we are reinventing the future of cities and homes, reducing food and water scarcity, expanding access to healthcare with advanced materials, and connecting people around the world to global data infrastructure.” –Avi Zoaretz, Director of Intrapreneurship at Orbia.
In 2019, to further push itself forward in the field of innovation, Orbia established a dedicated innovation department focused on three key pillars of innovation: internal startup investment fund, startup partnerships, and internal organizational innovation. To support this last objective, Orbia created an intrapreneurial program named LaunchPad.
With big goals to achieve across a massive organization, LaunchPad needed a platform to help them engage employees, collect ideas, and determine which ideas to implement.
The Solution: Global enterprise innovation platform
With the goal to engage employees across multiple countries and languages, Zoaretz knew he needed an innovation partner with the experience and capabilities to support a company of Orbia’s size and scale. Zoaretz was already familiar with Brightidea from his time as Innovation Platform Manager at HP Indigo, a division of HP. He knew Brightidea had a robust platform that could support Orbia’s complex system across a global enterprise as well as the experience necessary to support the endeavor.
With Brightidea in place, the next step was to get employees engaging with the platform and submitting ideas. To do this, Zoaretz needed both internal innovation champions and strong marketing.
“Since launching Brightidea, employees have been able to submit ideas to the platform for evaluation by the LaunchPad team who select the best 30 to take to the next stage. Once an idea is selected an evaluation team is formed to validate the idea. These teams are typically led by the employee who submitted the idea, but include an array of cross-functional members and experts that can provide the right support to help further the idea. The teams meet every week and are mentored by LaunchPad on how to pitch the idea to management. As a final step, the teams pitch their ideas and management selects three to five ideas for implementation.”
To identify the right internal talent, Zoaretz and his team developed a set of criteria for who would make a good champion. “You need to find someone with ambition. They need to be willing to transform the company and truly believe in making a change,” says Zoaretz.
The LaunchPad team reached out to managers across the company’s five business groups, asking them to recommend colleagues and direct reports with the right capabilities, drive and spirit. They also extended the opportunity to all employees to nominate themselves for the role. Then, the LaunchPad team interviewed those that applied and made their final selections.
On the marketing side, Zoaretz invested heavily in creating the LaunchPad brand. “We used our existing color palettes to keep the program within the Orbia family, but at the same time, we tried to be more daring in our messages and various logos,” says Zoaretz. “We wanted a brand that all employees would know that when they hear the name LaunchPad, —it would be a call to them for innovation and ideas.”
Because the five business groups under the Orbia company umbrella operate as their own companies and have their own cultures, Zoaretz also gave them the freedom to choose and be creative in their own ways, so each business group has its own logo and messaging that fits its culture.
The Results: A company-wide culture of innovation with 76% employee engagement
With the right Brightidea platform in place, strategic marketing, and 250 engaged volunteer champions across the company, LaunchPad has seen phenomenal results from its efforts. The team has gone from zero to 76% employee engagement company wide in just a few years.
But this is just the beginning. Through the Brightidea platform, they’ve tracked:
• 2,000+ ideas submitted
• 11,141 Total Unique Visitors
• 8,000 Total Unique Participants
• 13 challenges
• 10+ implemented ideas
• $16M+ projected net benefit and $2.5M gross margin
Ideas like digitizing and automating part of the production line at Vestolit, an Orbia brand, have resulted in $2.6 million in savings for the company.
Another idea, initiated by an employee at Netafim, has led the company to reduce the size of its standard irrigation kit so that small farmers could implement the technology. This innovation has allowed the company to sell irrigation kits to small farmers in Africa and across the globe—helping the company expand its customer base and further its mission of reducing water scarcity through better water management.
Despite its exceptional progress, the LaunchPad team is not ready to stop setting itself future goals to implement even more ideas and scaling them to more business groups.
As for advice to other companies seeking to increase innovation, Zoaretz says, “Create a dedicated innovation team with an independent budget and resources. Search for new ideas all the time and find business owners for innovation.” He also says it’s important to align innovation to the company’s strategic vision and challenges and make it fast and easy for employees to engage. “Most of all,” he says, “moving innovation forward requires patience and working hard to implement the ideas.”