Allow Yourself Not to Be Right

…and other key learnings from the Intrapreneur track of SoInventure healthtech program so far

When Krisi and Emo first joined SOinventure – the healthtech innovation program of Eleven and Sopharma Trading – they came very well prepared. Already being solid professionals in Sales and Marketing, with a lot of experience in the pharma industry, they thought that’s the WOW moment and finally the time has come to turn their brilliant ideas in vivid projects inside the company.

Then the first SOinventure Innovation Jam came and it happened to be a transformative journey. I was there and witnessed the moment…now trying to blog it below.

“Attenzione! Attenzione!”

This is Rene and despite the fact that she looks normal, she is a real disruptor… in other words – she is heading our design thinking lab and it’s her job to turn things upside down in order to make them work. During the SOinventure Innovation Jam she was the person stepping directly into our newly formed team DeServe (being me, Krisi, Emo, Ani, Stefi and Teo) and after the kind ‘You are wonderful team, go ahead’, killing some of our ideas softly and almost immediately in order to make us focus on finding the right problem to solve for first.

Our team DeServe was a super batch of more than 80% intrapreneurs – very competitive and confident persons, truly passionate about innovation and committed to bring the highest value to the company, already knowing each and every aspect of the business – and some neat 20% entrepreneurs and marketers, willing to challenge the status quo and look for meaningful problems to solve.

Gifford Pinchot III, first coined the term intrapreneur in 1978 and defined it as “dreamers who do.  Employees who do for corporate innovation what an entrepreneur does for his or her start-up”. All of us in DeServe team were big dreamers, indeed. So we glued together to redefine the healthcare in just a day. It didn’t actually work, but at the end of the day we all felt enriched and truly excited, because our team WON a spot (one of five total) in the Internal track of SOInventure Program. Yay!  But even if we didn’t win, the validated learnings from this innovation day will stay with us for a long time:

Here are some of the key learnings of our innovation effort:

  • Allow yourself not to be right
  • Sometimes it’s better to ‘forget what you know and focus on what you don’t know
  • Using past experiences and behavioral patterns is not always your winning strategy
  • Solution oriented thinking is the easiest path to follow, but do you know what the real problem is
  • Roll-up your sleeves, go outside and ask, ask, ask (check The Mom Test before that)
  • In 15 minutes you can do a lot of work that you couldn’t manage to do during the whole day
  • How you present your story is essential and there is no need to bribe the jury to win a spot for the Program 😉

Then the jerky but rewarding Jam ended and the teams passed on the next phase, where the hard work is done.

Remember Rene? She and her team arranged very intensive Customer Development workshop at Campus X where the five winning teams gathered to do the deep dive into the design thinking methodology and most importantly to practice, practice, practice. And that entrepreneurial practice is something that our intrapreneurs were missing. And they started again from A and B in order to build their products and solutions with the ambition to pilot them at the company.

This day’s workflow was bumpy, not always in the planned time boxes (timeboxing is hard!), exhausting –  at some point we all ended up with some crispy, carbon heavy food, since our brains were lacking energy, but when we finished  the workshop all of us approached the weekend with one ultimate goal – I need to do my customer research right, because the Customer development phase is fundamental when we talk about innovation.

To wrap up the experience so far, it looks that embarking on an innovation journey for a large corporates is difficult, but it is rewarding at the end. The process and the thinking is ambiguous, counterintuitive and risky. Once mastered however, allows for more and better ideas to see the light of day faster

If you have a ready solution targeted at the healthtech industry check the external track of SOInventure and apply here to join a curated program aiming at pilot with Sopharma Trading.

Sopharma Trading intrapreneurs during design sprints
Rene Tomova, founder of "Creative shower" and a lead design thinking coach
SOinventure innovation coaches