The P&G Innovation Gym started as an idea in 2003 from a retiring vice president to create a living display for P&G best practices around innovation. He contacted us at IDEO and I lead 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. We located this near an existing mock store environment P&G owned in the near suburbs and worked with local architects to build it out. Beyond the space, the key was training up facilitators who held P&G best practices to work dynamically in this new environment with teams to bring out their creativity. For several years it was wildly successful at increasing the pace of prototyping and getting consumer feedback, sometimes within hours of conception. It also grew and similar Innovation Gyms were installed around the world at P&G key regional headquarters. I have heard that the installation may have run its course, many original owners have retired and it may be time for a new mechanism to awaken P&G creativity.
Theatre on First
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