Innovative Innovation Program at Adobe

I stumbled upon this piece on the Fast Company website, which talks about a great initiative from Adobe to spark innovative ideas among its employees and get them to develop the ideas to yield business value. I will leave you to enjoy the details on the link above, but in short – any (absolutely any) Adobe employee can request for a “kickbox”:

It’s a simple red cardboard box, sealed by a fire alarm graphic that reads “pull in case of idea.” Inside, you’ll find a set of instructions to “beat” the box, a Bic pen, two sets of Post-it notes, a timer, a Staples mini notebook for “Bad Ideas,” a slightly larger spiral notebook, a World Market caramel and sea salt chocolate bar, and a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Oh, and one more thing: A $1,000 prepaid Citi card that employees can spend however they like without ever justifying a purchase to a manager or filing an expense report.

The idea is simple, yet powerful – instead of spending $1 million on a specific innovative idea, the company is placing $1000 bets on 1000 potential ideas.


To me, there are a couple of other takeaways (apart from the fact that this is a great, promising idea):

  • Essentially, Kickbox is a trust-driven program. Anyone can request to get the kickbox (remember it has chocolates, coffee and a no-justfication-needed pre-loaded $1000 card). But Adobe is sending a powerful message that it trusts its employees. Just like it has a trust-based system for performance management, where managers are not required to follow elaborate processes, but are rather trusted to “check-in” with their teams on performance and enablement.
  • Adobe put details of this initiative on their website. I think this is a great way of communicating internal initiatives to the external talent market. It goes beyond saying that one fosters an innovation culture, to actually demonstrating how one actually does it.

Would stay tuned to see how this experiment goes and if it leads to ground-breaking innovations from the ground up.

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