Innovating from within: insights into the success story of Raiffeisen Bank International’s Intrapreneurship Program

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4 minutes
Like any other bank, Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) faces today’s challenges: a volatile and dynamic time with drivers such as digitalization, rapidly changing customer requirements, large digital players, nimble start-ups and the resulting new demands on innovation processes need to be managed and shaped. The Intrapreneurship Program of RBI together with HYVE shows how internal innovation can go through ceilings and what it takes to do so.

Awarded result

RBI’s Service Nicole – a personal financial tool that helps people manage their money better by showing them comparisons among their peers – has just been approved by the European Financial Management Association (Efma) as  Banking-Innovation of January 2020.

Why is that so special? Nicole was created as part of the intrapreneurship program of HYVE and RBI.

Stations of the success story RBI Intrapreneurship Program

1. Already in 2017 HYVE together with RBI started with a pilot with three intrapreneurship teams over 10 weeks in order to test the program in the organization and iteratively adapt it to the needs of RBI.

2. In 2018 and 2019 the extensive intrapreneurship program “Innovation Garden“, based on the learnings of the pilot project: with a 6-week internal ideas contest, two days Innovation Jam with 20 topics and over 100 people, 12 weeks Innovation Lab with eight teams in weXelerate at HYVE Innovation Austria (2018) and Talent Garden (2019) and multiplication of the Innovation Mindset by training innovation ambassadors.

As part of an internal ideas contest in 2018 open to all network banks, over 765 ideas were submitted and discussed within a few weeks in six defined challenges on internal process improvements and new market/customer solutions. In addition, nearly 270 people from over 3,600 active participants from 13 different countries applied to participate in the Innovation Garden. 100 people were then invited to the Innovation Jam, a 2-day event in which 20 ideas were further developed in a design thinking process. In the end, the eight best ideas and 40 most convincing “intrapreneurs” were selected for two intrapreneurship batches in autumn 2018.

LEGO Serious Play within the team. Source: RBI

Within this short period of time, the Batch teams have tested many hypotheses with the customer by means of prototypes and were thus able to validate the problem and the solution. At the Demo Day, the teams pitched these findings at the Innovation Board of RBI, which decided which projects would receive further funding.

Out of eight concepts, two projects for further development and implementation condensed into Minimal Viable Products, which were then implemented by the Intrapreneur Teams. In this step-by-step development of the topics towards a real customer experience, the focus is on business case evaluation and technical viability.

For this reason, RBI has chosen a similar ecosystem, the Talent Garden, to continue the success story. Here the RBI intrapreneurs were able to continue working on their project with a distance to the usual mind-set, their core business and outside the company walls.

Teamwork at the Talent Garden. Source: RBI

3. Coaching, prototype creation (UX/UI, development), sparring innovation management. A major focus of the new 2019 program was on the “train the trainer” component: HYVE acted not only as a partner here and supported RBI in the empowerment of its employees. Local Challenges were followed by Local Programs. In these programs, HYVE used a beta version of the innovation management software joolia for the first time in order to be able to integrate regional network banks more intensively into the process. Away from a program for individuals to a program for all. The innovation software supported the challenges defined by RBI, which are quite different from region to region and address different problems.
New in 2020 is a condensed Innovation Garden: graduated, individual programs that meet the needs of different market and product segments.

From employee to innovation ambassador – and further success

The intrapreneurship program led to a significantly increased innovation awareness within RBI; employees were systematically involved in the innovation process, which increased the overall potential of the organisation.

In two years of the Intrapreneurship Program, eleven innovation projects were created, which were further elaborated in three ongoing MVP projects.

The intrapreneurship program with its train-the-trainer component also empowered about 35 trained Innovation Ambassadors from RBI’s own ranks.

Please contact us if you would like us to discuss your internal innovation program with you