Understanding that the potential to innovate lies in every organization, Capital One has a history of demonstrating an ability to innovatively plan and conduct work. However, since its client base was growing at a significant rate annually, the company had to be even more innovative in creating new products and identifying cost efficiencies. New ideas were required to carry the business into a new reality and grow Capital One’s reputation as an industry leader.
By making innovation a key initiative, the company challenged itself to build a culture that looked for new and better ways to do business. To accomplish this, they needed to add new and proven processes and tools to their innovation toolbox. Partnering with SolutionPeople, they designed a customized innovation training program. The program was structured to teach innovative processes through action learning focused on real business challenges in creative spaces.
The underlying goal was not to conduct a traditional training program but rather a memorable experience they called the “innovation experience.” This was designed to be dynamic, creative, multisensory and engaging. Content was balanced between learning and fun, and physical and virtual experiences. The training focused on teaching simple tools and processes that could be replicated in tackling future challenges. Working together, teammates forged stronger relationships committed to building cultures that foster innovative thinking.
Eight teams participated in the innovation experience. To begin, each team was led through one-day accelerated innovation training workshops that provided an introduction to key processes and tools and created an environment for team building and interaction. During the initial event, participants discovered their thinking styles through an interactive exercise. This information was used by individuals to drive more whole-brained thinking through the use of tools and techniques. It also was used throughout the process to build diverse-thinking teams.
They followed up with two-day workshops that focused teams on specific business challenges, providing the time, tools and settings to explore those challenges in greater depth. Teams generated an average of 848 investigative questions describing the needs surrounding the challenges. These were prioritized to the top 30, which were then used to generate ideas by using creativity tools. An average of 1,883 ideas emerged. Each team created a list of eight to 10 critical evaluation criteria and used these criteria to select 10 to 20 solutions. Participants found that the more focused the challenge questions, the better the quality of the results.
Teams developed comprehensive strategy programs, devised systems for capturing more customer data and created communication plans. Teams also left with a common sense of direction for taking action on their challenges. Ideally, teams who targeted $5 million to $10 million in increased revenue, $2 million to $3 million in cost savings or $2 billion to $4 billion in customer account growth had the most developed solutions and actions to execute.
From a learning perspective, the teams indicated a 75 percent increase in their knowledge of innovation and a 30 percent increase in their ability to use innovative processes and tools. On a scale from 0 to 5, the participants rated the overall value of the innovation experience at 4.14.
From a business impact perspective, the participants indicated more than $500 million resulted in new revenues and cost efficiencies and over $1 billion in new customer accounts. As a result, Capital One continues to use the processes and tools learned through the innovation experience program.