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Inviting talent to think outside of the boss

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By Britt Buseyne

Author for Ink.

Imagine you were in the ORMIT management team. What’s the very first thing you’d decide to do with your newly granted superpowers? That’s the question contestants of the yearly Innovation Challenge are faced with. This time around, some forty trainees signed up, teaming up to pitch their ideas to the jury on May 16th. At stake? A ticket to WebSummit 2019.

Every Summer, we invite our trainees to sign up for the Innovation Challenge, a competition that serves as a chance for our team members to unleash their creativity. Each year, they team up to cook up an innovative business idea for our organisation. Why? Because we believe that innovation is the key to maintaining a relevant business.

The culture of innovation

Put in the words of ORMIT CEO Thomas De Wulf, “in a continuously evolving world, it’s crucial for business to think outside-in.” Unfortunately, the agile start-up mentality is easily lost within larger companies, where processes tend to become rigid and overly complex. Moreover, new trends are flying by every second of the day, making it hard to choose which wave to surf on.

“In a continuously evolving world, it’s crucial for business to think outside-in”

As a talent incubator, ORMIT believes that young professionals have a fresh perspective on this rapidly evolving and highly digitalised environment, making them invaluable assets to improve complex processes.

Not only does this approach help ORMIT to stay relevant as a company, it also gives trainees a chance to put their training and theory about innovation into practice and come up with their own ideas. By making the Innovation Challenge a team effort, we also encourage our trainees to work closely together, which, in turn, has a beneficial effect on the company as a whole.

The winner’s secret recipe

The ideas put forward during the Innovation Challenge take on numerous sizes and shapes. “To me”, De Wulf says, “the secret ingredients to a great idea are both pragmatism and disruptiveness. Sometimes the naivety of an idea can be its greatest asset.” Last year, the first prize went to an innovative piece of software, aiming to better map the training course within ORMIT, giving access to both trainees and customers.

However, the best is yet to come, as the ideas generated during the Innovation Challenge aren’t just gathering up dust in some long-forgotten archive. Instead, they are implemented in a pilot study to research the actual effects of the prototype ideas. Because what’s innovation, if you can’t put it to practice?

What's in it for you?

Asked for the reason behind this competition, Alicia Thomas, in charge of Marketing and Sales and running the event, counters with another question. “Why would we try to reinvent the wheel, if we can be inspired by the top-notch talents in our programme?” Why indeed?

“Why would we try to reinvent the wheel, if we can be inspired by the top-notch talents in our programme?”

Hence, ten teams of three to four people each signed up to take on this year’s challenge. Each of them will be given the opportunity to pitch their brightest idea in front of a five-person jury of ORMIT all-stars, as well as the Board of Innovation.

After the first pitch, the jury decides which three teams will continue to the next round. These finalists will have the opportunity to follow additional training courses in Rotterdam and work out their prototype for the final pitch at the end of June.

The stakes are high, as the winning team takes home a ticket for WebSummit 2020, dubbed “the best technology conference on the planet” by none other than Forbes. Luckily, there’s also a consolation prize for the other two teams: they can count on an exclusive boat party to blow off some steam.