The P&G Innovation Gym started as an idea from a retiring vice president to create a living display for P&G best practices around innovation. He contacted us at IDEO and Kristian led the project. It became clear within the first week that the cubicle office environment was stifling creativity - people did not have space to prototype, they were regularly in back-back meetings and were often attending two meetings at once (virtual and in person). All of this made it hard for the creative culture at P&G to thrive. It was also regularly taking 3–6 months for an idea to progress through prototyping to gain valuable consumer feedback. We wanted to change that to 3–6 hours.
We conceived an “onsite offsite-facility" that would have its own space, facilitators, and rules and be close to corporate HQ. We located this near an existing mock store environment P&G owned in nearby suburbs, and we worked with local architects to build it out. From the research, we devised custom rules for the space to help define this as a creative place (these rules can be seen stenciled on the wall).
Beyond the space itself, the key was training facilitators who held P&G best practices to work dynamically in this new environment with teams to bring out their creativity. For over a decade the space was wildly successful at increasing the pace of prototyping and getting consumer feedback, sometimes within hours of conception. The Gym grew, and more Gyms were soon built at vital P&G regional headquarters around the world. Business Week featured this work in a cover page article about IDEO's process. Former P&G CEO A.G. Lafely wrote about how the Gym positively impacted business in his memoir.
IDEO Team: Kristian Simsarian (project lead), Suzanne Gibbs, Jerome Goh, Fred Dust (practice lead)