Enel learns from startups

Published on Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Turning ideas into new business opportunities, starting from the creativity of people.

This is the core of the Enel Lean Startup Program, the innovation programme addressing employees and developed thanks to the collaboration with a startup.

From January 16 to April 26, 33 Enel employees will be involved in a training course led by Peekaboo, a business pre-incubator born at the Roma Tor Vergata university campus, set up by a community of  innovation lovers, designers, developers, growth hackers (new digital marketing processes experts) who work  together to make their ideas grow and help others cultivate theirs.

Enel Lean Startup Program is just the latest step of the ‘training to innovation’ model. Since 2015, Enel has been developing internal entrepreneurship with the Enel Innovation World Cup, a contest that involved around 1000 employees worldwide, training courses based on the Lean Startup model for its business lines and programmes for the recently employed, such as New Hires Global Program to promote the mindset of startuppers.

Enel Lean Startup Program is a pilot project: Italy will be the forerunner but if the trial is positive, the model will then be replicated in the other countries. Twelve four-hour meetings in four months. The participants, from seven business areas (ICT, Innovation Holding, Innovation Enel Green Power, Innovation Market Italy, Marketing, Customer Service, Large Customer Sales and PA), will be divided into mixed teams and engaged in the development of innovative products or services , using a method based on the continuous updating of the ​​starting idea. The four operational phases are repeated circularly: devising a solution and realising the prototype, testing with the customer, learning and implementation feedbacks.

The resources involved will work on the seven challenges launched by Enel Energia (the market’s operating arm in Italy), to meet specific needs, improve existing products and services and propose new solutions that are truly appealing for the market.

The programme will end with the pitch day, in which participants will have a few minutes to present the result of the training course, that is, the products and services conceived to address the challenges posed by the managers (challenge owners). Which is what startuppers did at the day pitch of the second edition of the Peekaboo Lean Startup Program, held in Rome in late December. At the event, in which 11 startups presented their ideas to a jury of experts and venture capitals, Enel’s Head of Innovation and Sustainability Ernesto Ciorra explained how a big company like Enel is changing its approach to innovation.

To remain competitive, said Ciorra, “big corporations must look outside of their enclosure. The idea of ​​an individual is not enough, genius is a collective experience: it is therefore important that companies organise themselves so as to nurture ideas coming from the outside, creating a constant and continuous flow with startups, research centres, universities, independent innovators, as well as employees and customers, setting up a procedure based on KPIs and flexible governance. Only this way is it possible to draw value from collective intelligence, which is greater than that of individuals”.

“Peekaboo – the startup’s CEO Paolo Napolitano pointed out – was established precisely with the aim of providing the tools to understand whether an idea can actually be turned into a business. In fact, implementing on time and within the budget something that nobody wants is of no use at all. The first question when approaching an idea should not be ‘how do I achieve it?’ but rather ‘does it interest anyone?’. You must be convinced that it is worth investing time and resources into this project”.

The objective of the Enel Lean Startup Program is not to create internal startups but to develop instead an open mindset, an innovative spirit and business skills that can be used in all business projects. A flexible approach useful to internal resources both to innovate the business and to improve business processes that can be adopted in several contexts, because every new idea can generate value for users and colleagues.

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