Intrapreneurship @ Nokia Software (B): Lessons Learned, Feedback Given

By Yossi Feinberg, Sheila Melvin
2019 | Case No. SM320B | Length 5 pgs.

Intrapreneurship at Nokia Software, or I at NS, was a program created in 2017 to give Nokia Software’s 10,000 employees the opportunity to submit ideas for products, services, or solutions that delivered new capabilities, solved tough challenges faced by customers, or opened new markets.

I at NS was intended to mimic the experience of founding a start-up, getting it funded, building a product, and taking it to market, with all the potential risk and reward this entailed. Except, of course, this particular start-up experience would occur within Nokia Corporation, a 150-year-old global company with 103,000 employees working in more than 100 countries—a company that described its mission as “creat[ing] the technology to connect the world.”

Given this rather unusual “start-up” environment, the creators of the program had no idea how it would all unfold. But, they went ahead and established it, evangelized it to Nokia Software employees around the world, judged the first round, and then launched a second round, which was still underway at the time this case was written. In the process of creating I at NS, its founders learned many important lessons about encouraging and supporting innovation and a start-up mentality within an established corporation.

The case covers many elements of the design and implementation of an innovation program including:

  • Strategic objectives of innovation processes
  • Defining success
  • Determining the scale and scope of new ventures
  • The staging of the innovation process
  • The gating and funding decision making process
  • The definition of the strategic objectives behind the innovation process
  • Communicating the process to the wide organization
  • Communicating (the go/no go) gating decisions
  • Identifying and allocation resources
  • Recruiting evangelists and mentors
  • Team formation and composition
  • How the process interacts with and impacts the culture in the organization
  • Incentives for innovation
  • Career development paths for innovators
  • Attitudes to risk
  • Also see:  SM320A: Intrapreneurship @ Nokia Software: Instilling Culture Change

Learning Objective

Identify the multi-disciplinary elements of designing and implementing an innovation process in a large organization (see list in abstract). Understand the various tradeoffs and complementarities between these elements and their impact on the success of an innovation program. Analyze the external and internal environment parameters and how they interact with the elements of the innovation program.
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