Before we launched the ABP Innovation Hub, the general conversations inside and outside closed doors at ABP sounded like this:

“Print media is facing a hard time!”

“Ad revenue has again taken a hit!”

“Digital is taking over!”

“With the surge in newsprint cost, we need to streamline processes.”

To address these business challenges, we felt a need for a paradigm shift in our operational approach. We believed the change should originate from our employees across geographies, work levels, and functions.

To innovate and re-imagine our processes, we launched The ABP Innovation Hub — Ideate, Transform, Impact. Our objective was to create an environment that promotes experimentation and generation of new ideas among employees.

From the conceptualisation stage, we were clear about the initiative’s focus areas: cost optimisation, process efficiency, and business development. Considering our long 100-year legacy, ABP had well defined operational processes and a limited scope of innovation within the system.

The Innovation Hub would guide a shift to visualising each employee as an innovator and a thinker, thus creating an environment that promotes diversity of thought, strengthens cross-functional interaction, and reduces fear of failure.

ABP Innovation Hub had a structured three-phase implementation process, and this was the game- changer for us:

Phase 1 was about communicating the launch of ABP Innovation Hub across locations and functions, ensuring it reached all employees. Employees were asked to submit their ideas either in drop boxes, placed in all 16 ABP locations, or via e-mail. Strong support from the senior leadership of the organisation was the backbone for the success of the project. We decorated all offices with danglers, stickers, and posters. Screensavers were pushed to individual employee terminals. All of this internal marketing created top-of-mind recall among employees.

An internal campaign encouraged employees across many teams to submit their innovative ideas in drop boxes or via e-mail.
An internal campaign encouraged employees across many teams to submit their innovative ideas in drop boxes or via e-mail.

Phase 2 involved screening a whopping 178 ideas we received from many teams — including manufacturing, ad sales, IT, editorial, and others — within a period of two months. To assess the best ideas, a Human Capital Committee was formed to include editor of The Telegraph, CEO of education-Pratibha, vice president of dailies, and the associated vice president of human resources.

Twenty-three ideas were shortlisted based on feasability, return on investment, business impact, and process efficiency. These ideas were showcased and highlighted during our “annual day” and through our internal newsletter, and presented to the senior leadership at ABP. However, the most valued reward for an employee was to own and implement his or her idea.

Phase 3 was the most crucial part of the process. Not only did it create a positive impact on the business, but it was also the time for employees to connect to the growth of the organisation. A team of two or three was formed to execute each of the 23 ideas, including the process owner and the functional head as a mentor. There were specific timelines, budget allocations, and business impact analyses for the ideas to be implemented. As per estimations, these 23 teams have a potential to create a significant business impact.

The feedback and responses received from our employees confirmed our hypothesis that innovation starts from the lowest level. These are ideas that could help ABP come out as a winner if only every employee could contribute in his or her own capacity.

This journey started with a view to inculcate innovation in everyday processes and deliver the desired results. The initiative took shape to strengthen employees’ connection and engagement with the organisation. And it does not stop here.

With the current ideas still in progress, we launched another idea generating phase. We also have introduced a concept of spot recognition, where functional heads appreciate and reward routine innovations or process improvements initiated by their teams.

The aim is to encourage and support initiative taken by employees and to communicate the learnings from their journeys with everybody.