The internal competition challenged Lockheed employees to take creativity and apply it to affordability, and generated 670 ideas, says Johnson. A goal was to encourage “horizontal integration” by sharing ideas across the company “in a way that they do not do in their natural environment.”
Five winners shared $50,000 in prizes, the grand prize going to an idea from Lockheed's Aeronautics business for a way of capturing energy from wind at very low speed in urban and cluttered areas. “Our wind-energy business area is talking to the winner about taking the idea forward,” he says.
All the winners also are receiving incubation support. “We learned from our innovation competition in India that when great concepts come in from very smart people, they may not have the business backing or experience to take the idea from creation to application, so we work with them to give them professional advice.” Sikorsky provides incubation support in Stamford, Conn., but recognizes this is “geographically constraining” and other options may be offered at a later time.
How challenges are judged is important. For Raytheon, submissions are evaluated by a broad-based group of technical directors from across its businesses. “Selection is not run by one person at corporate. It is more of a peer review by a group of technologists,” says Russell. For Lockheed, the impact of an idea and its creativity were major judging criteria.
Sikorsky uses two “fundamental, technology-agnostic criteria” to evaluate responses: how is the technology or business concept different, how will it create an improvement over the state of the art; and does the proposal provide a viable concept for the market? “We look at how their experience and skills align with what they are proposing,” says Vigeant-Langlois. “We try very hard to be perceived as fair. We want them to consider coming back if they are not successful the first time.”
From Lockheed's perspective, the response to its global innovation challenge “shows there is an interested group that wants to participate,” Johnson says. “Even internally, ideas do not come forward easily. Here we had untapped ideas bought about because of diversity.”