How IKEA Defines the Role of its Internal Incubator
Most companies know they need to move as fast as their customers' evolving needs, but IKEA is doing something about it: they've launched innovation lab Space10. Based in Copenhagen, the lab will rotate through a series of specific challenges, starting with "the future of urban living." Visitors will be exposed to a variety of ideas and experiments thanks to a schedule of workshops, design residencies, projects, and more.
IKEA is already seeing results: one project, which used heat from beverages, or computers on a table surface, to create energy for recharging devices, was developed in two weeks—a clear improvement on the standard, year-long timeline. That said, the company is being careful to maintain the Lab's focus:
It’s not a factory that should always produce something. It’s development of a concept, not development of a product. – Göran Nilsson, Manager of Concept Innovation
Takeaway: The objective of a company's incubator (skunkworks, lab, etc.) is to discover new opportunities, but it's up to the rest of the organization to operationalize and commercialize those ventures. Moreover, the test-and-learn mindset and process that the lab develops is usually it's most valuable asset and should be spread to the full enterprise.