Inspiration to Implementation

The Innovation Fair isn’t the only way Toyota seeks to spur creativity and foster tangible change

April 12, 2016

Making it Real -- Five years ago, Neel Sekhon and Brian Kursar (left to right) headed a team that developed software that could map social media activity with Lexus' sales. Two years later, that inspiration became the Social Media Intellilgence Center.

The Innovation Fair is a once-a-year outpouring of entrepreneurial spirit that, since it began in 2007, has evolved into a powerful generator of new ideas for Toyota. But what good are ideas if they never make the journey from light bulb moment to concrete action?
 
As such, over the past two years, IS has established several new mechanisms designed specifically to build on the momentum initiated by the fair. Here’s a summary of some of these innovation-focused entities:
 
  • iCouncil – A group of managers, including IS and Long-Range Market Planning, that helps teams develop and move their ideas to the next step. Teams are encouraged to present their ideas to the council, which, in turn, assesses their viability and helps orchestrate the people, resources and funding to move them forward.
  • The Garage – This innovation lab operates as an accelerator where ideas can be turned into prototypes, making it easier to evaluate whether they have the “right stuff” to be fully developed. Think of it as the technology alternative to Toyota’s traditional A3.
  • Idea Cloud – This is an online collaboration space, with a flavor like Kickstarter, where team members can float new ideas and get immediate feedback. Ideas that generate traction can then progress to the iCouncil in search of funding and support.
  • Technology Day – A window of opportunity for start-up companies external to Toyota to present ideas and technology that might be a good fit with internal initiatives.
  • Mobile Day – Provides opportunities for team members to receive hands-on help with the latest developments in mobile technology. One example: Bring in their personal smartphone and learn how to configure it to beam in office email.
  • Speaker Series – To further spark creative thinking, IS routinely invites innovation leaders from such companies as Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Zappos to make presentations to Toyota team members on a wide range of topics.
 
Want to learn more? Check out the Innovation Fair page on Toyota Connect.
 
By Dan Miller

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