Interested in the work we’ve done? Check out our Case Stories below featuring some of the work we’ve done for tech, retail, finance and gaming companies.
If your people are innovative, get out of their way
Crowdsourced Innovation Programs
helloFUTURE engaged with one of the largest internet services firm to take on their moribund innovation program: the program had launched about half a year earlier, and there was a huge influx (over 3000 in a month) of ideas into the system. Problem is – the managers of the program were swamped and they had no time to review and make decisions on the ideas, so the time in-between the idea submission and the idea review was stretching on and on.
This is the worst possible thing that can happen to your innovation program. More than anything, your inventors need communication, they need to be heard. If they sense that their ideas are going into a black hole, never to be heard from again, them they will clam up pretty fast. Then take their ideas elsewhere – either to your competitors or their own startup.
So the first thing we did: we started communicating with the inventors, making them understand that we were now going to review their ideas. We set up a review committee to rapidly go through the ideas and communicated outcomes. Fairly soon, we realized that the software that they were using did not fit with the process that they wanted to use – the rigorous structure of the software was completely at odds with the open, innovative and collaborative culture at that company.
The system captured ideas, but didn’t really allow others within the company to vote on the ideas – they could easily comment on ideas without voting – resulting in lots of comments but no real data. Additionally, it was not easy for anyone to vote on ideas.
We realized that we needed to replace the software, and did a quick review of what was out there – but nothing out there mapped to the culture of the firm – so we built our own. Using our rapid development process, we were able to replace the software with a custom built version, tuned perfectly to the culture of the company.
We relaunched the program using the new software and process and immediately had a huge influx of ideas, both from inventors who submitted to the older software, as well as many new inventors. Due to the software/culture fit the program took off, and we continued to generate excellent new product ideas, many of which ended up in the product pipeline
Pre-Storms & Ideation
We held brainstorming sessions in concert with vertical product groups within the company. In a typical 2 hour session, our team, in concert with the client, generated at least 50 new product ideas, using our proven system of ideation. Many of these ideas were immediately put into the product pipeline, others, typically more forward thinking ideas, were moved into the patent pipeline. We proceeded to meet with other vertical groups and were able to generate hundreds of products and patents from these sessions. Additionally, we ran the grass-roots innovation program for this firm, as well as set up idea review and refinement processes.
Patent Development Programs
This company hired a VP of IP who immediately tasked us to focus on developing patentable ideas, in addition to our usual program. We reviewed the incoming ideas in detail, however, most of the ideas were incremental innovations, which were great, but not patentable. The challenge was developing a crowdsourced version which would generate patentable ideas, not productizable ideas.
We envisioned a crowdsourced futurist program, encouraging employees across the enterprise to think 10 years out into the future, which was the perfect sweet spot for patentable ideas: ask people to think 10 years out, they will come up with ideas which are probably 5 years out, which fit right into the patentability range. We developed a super fun program, featuring a retro-future theme, partnering with the Institute For The Future to develop a 10 year out scenario. We did blog posts from the future, time-boxed the event for 1 month, and the grand prize was a simple lunch with the president. The program was a huge success. we generated over 1000 ideas, 300 of which ended up in the patent pipeline.
Moral of the story: 9 years after we ran this program, the company above listed the patents we developed during this program for sale for a starting bid price of a billion dollars.
Crowdsourced Futurist Programs
For this internet services company, which focused on a specific vertical market, we developed another internal crowdsourced foresight program, this time wrapped around their 20th-anniversary festivities. In a very short time frame, we worked with this client to develop a program which resulted in a number of interesting ideas, in 6 different categories. The winner’s ideas were to be presented at the client’s year-end parties, and a time capsule with the ideas was locked up, to be opened in 5 years to see how many of the ideas generated turned into reality. In collaboration with the client (who developed their own internal tool to capture the ideas generated), we mapped out the program, assisted in the development of branding and materials for the program, and wrote the artifacts from the future for release on a daily basis.
What’s That Little Blue Brain On Your Desk?
Crowdsourced Innovation Programs
helloFUTURE engaged with the world’s largest retailer to create an run an internal, crowdsourced innovation program in order to tap employees for new products and services. Our first task: develop the outcomes that they were looking for. They were looking for new products to develop and to develop a patent pipeline. We stepped in and developed a process which worked for their culture (which was very different from the technology firms that we worked with).
Once we had defined outcomes and mapped out the cultural requirements, we looked for innovation management software to capture and review the ideas. As it turned out, they already used Spigit in other areas of their business for focused events, so we decided to simply clone a new copy of it for our innovation program.
We developed a brand for the program and a mascot, which was geared to the collaborative nature of the company. We launched in a sneaky fashion: the mascot was a brain working out, so we bought 2000 little blue brain-shaped stress balls and placed them quietly on everyone’s desk overnight so that when they got in the next morning they would be sitting on people’s desks. Caused a bit of internal viral chatter – everyone wanted to know what it was all about. A few hours later, we broke the suspense by launching the program via email – asking everyone to check out the challenges and submit their ideas. We had a great response to the program, which led to quarterly innovation days, where a number of inventors were selected to present their ideas to the company. Additionally, a number of the ideas were interesting enough to submit for patent We then implemented a patent pipeline and a patent award program which increased their yearly patent flow by 300%
Who says banks can’t innovate?
helloFUTURE engaged with one of the top banks in the world to create and run a mini-innovation lab in San Francisco. We built the team and directed them to generate ideas leading to prototypes. Using modern frameworks and rapid application development processes, we were able to generate a number of interesting prototypes, addressing everything from peer-to-peer payments to trading platforms, to extremely vertically focused communications tools for high-value customers.
Instead of developing an enterprise-wide crowdsourced program, we develop a very focused invention program which developed a delivered a number of different prototypes, covering a number of different areas within the bank. This led to the additional development of a number of ideas for the Singapore office, including treasury and cash management, utilizing giant touch screen monitors.
Patent Development Programs
Additionally, this bank had realized that they had fallen far behind when it came to their intellectual property and engaged us to develop a patent strategy in order to increase the number of filings in the portfolio. We developed and implemented a strategy to run global mini-futurist programs for the bank, (as we did enterprise-wide for our tech and retail customers) in order to generate patentable ideas. Over the course of 4 weeks, we generated at over 100 patentable ideas for the pipeline. We also helped them implement a robust patent review process and increased number of ideas to patent by 50%
For another bank, we developed workshops and ideation programs which increased the hit rate of developing patentable ideas, by using tools like being incongruent, taking the maze backward, and engineered serendipity, in order to develop new out-of-the-box concepts. These, in turn, were quickly developed into easy to read and digest disclosures, which rapidly progressed through the patent review process, leading to more prospective filings.
There’s an app for that?
helloFUTURE was tasked by Apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas to develop a Philippine focused game which would appeal to a wide audience. After some initial meetings with their team, within which we discussed a number of different possibilities, we determined that we would be able to take a childhood game, which Apl.de.ap himself played, as well as some of the youth in the Philippines today, and build an app version of this game.
We set out to develop a spider fighting game for both iOS and Android devices. However, we didn’t just look at developing a game, we wanted to build a whole property, one that had the ability to start a game, but then extend into other media, such as TV shows, collectibles, movies etc.
Initially, we set out to research spiders and spider fighting. We began by looking at how spiders evolved and the species started, grew and died out. We determined that there were initially 3 spider species, all of which were around approximately 300 million years ago. About 50 million years later, two of the species died out, and two younger species were born. This gave us the backstory, three ancient races of spiders, two of which died out mysteriously, and two younger races. Armed with this information, we developed a backstory and a set of characters and attributed of each of the characters which mapped to the different species.
For example, the oldest race, the Liphis, are wise characters, like Yoda, who perhaps harbor a great secret about the demise of the other two ancient races. The two younger races, the Megalos are big and chunky spiders like tarantulas, they move slow but are very strong, and the Araneos, a smaller, light breed which almost all actual spider fights use. We also gave the spiders two different aspects, a cute form (so when you collect the spider they are fun and cuddly – this was with an eye to creating collectibles such as stuffed animals) and an “aggro” form, which they would convert into once they got into the arena. Once in this form, they would fight.
Against this backdrop, we created a storyboard for a game which was a cross between a puzzle game and a fighting game. In real spider fighting, you go out and catch spiders to fight, feed them, then have them attack each other on a twig when they fight. So we broke the game up into two parts – a catch a spider minigame, where you could travel to 4 different areas and catch spiders, and an arena where the spiders could fight patterned loosely on Streetfighter. During the minigame, if you tapped a spider three times in quick succession, you would catch it. On the field, you could also find powerups, extra time and other cool things. In the arena, you could swipe back and forth to move your spider forward, back and around the stick, and use a combination of spider type attacks (like bite and web) along with more fighting style attacks (like punch & kick).
With music from Apl.de.ap, we developed and launched both an iOS and an Android version of this game. For this project, we developed the backstory, the characters, and performed all of the software development in Unity 3D.