Off the Island report: Corporate Innovation Masterclass in NYC

3 action-packed days of hands-on corporate innovation masterclass in New York with Giant Innovation

15 participants from large, diverse companies including Walmart, Ericsson, Citi Group, Rogers Communications, The Hershey Company, CNA Insurance, Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. and more!

20 hours of Master Class coursework

3 corporate innovation experts from PepsiCo, Pfizer, and Citi Group answering key corporate innovation questions

9 hours of networking with startups and innovation professionals at Entrepreneur’s Roundtable Accelerator and elsewhere

3 hours of “customer” interview sessions (a.k.a. talking to random tourists on the High Line in Chelsea)

Countless sticky notes, bagels, and innovation ideas!


What am I doing differently because of this amazing trip?

  1. Far greater focus on quick, regular, user feedback for all innovation You could try out the Usability of Legal Tools survey (refresh if it doesn’t load first time) for an example of some ways we in the Consumer & Small Business team are already trying to measure usability and gather feedback quickly to ensure we are focused on creating tools that work for us and for clients.
  1. Maintain a metrics Now more than ever we need to look at our work through a different lens and that involves making use of data and metrics. I’ll be building on some innovation metrics templates already developed and researching and testing new ones to assess and investigate the real impact of innovation work, as well as spot areas that need innovation or are priorities for greater efficiency.
  1. Trying to become a solution finder, not a problem In line with intriguing concepts around New Power, I’m looking to explore different ways of finding solutions to business issues in an open source way, supported by the methods of the masterclass that allow an openness of ideas and thinking. The methodology laid out in the class are a mix of Lean, Design Thinking and Agile similar to Telstra’s New Ways of Working (NWoW) is made up of, so I am excited to test the methodology on projects large and small (overview worksheets from the masterclass are below).


I am sitting in a bustling restaurant at Melbourne Airport. I have 30 minutes until I board a plane to New York. I am feeling slightly nervous about travelling alone in NYC and slightly stressed about the work that needs to get done for the business in a very busy two weeks before the end of the financial year. There’s also the semi-mysterious strategic announcement in two days and the only somewhat less mysterious announcement of the changes to the legal team operational structure.

On top of this, I turned 34 two days ago and bought my first teeny apartment on my own, which settled nine days ago. 12 days ago I flew to Sydney to attend and present at the Legal Innovation and Tech Fest in Sydney. All of the ideas from various sessions and thoughts of home ownership, legal model changes and general hectic-ness are rotating through my head combined with excitement at the possibility of the Giant Innovation masterclass as I sit at the airport and try to plan for an amazing fortnight in Gotham (with a little help from a glass of red wine).

My main plan for my time ‘off the island’ (courtesy of Gilbert+Tobin) was pretty basic…

Oh and see at least two Broadway shows 😀


day one

1 – David Dabscheck (co-founder of Giant Innovation) giving the overview of the processes we’ll learn to apply over the next three days

Corporate Innovation Masterclass Course:

Corporate Innovation Leaders Panel: 3 corporate innovation leaders answered burning innovation questions

Innovation Leaders Roundtable at BCG Digital Ventures. Presentation from Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms on their book New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World – and How to Make It Work for You

Note: Apologies in advance for buzzwords that pop up. Check here in the innovation Dictionary for quick basic definitions for some innovation buzzwords.


2 – The Giant Innovation method which we worked through in detail over three days.


3. The ‘Boxing Kangaroos’ team!

Our innovation team getting out of the building to do user interviews with the unsuspecting public (The High Line, Chelsea). We asked random people about their tourism experience in NYC. People were surprisingly friendly!


Corporate Innovation panel
4- Corporate Innovation panel

Corporate Innovation panel with corporate innovation specialists (from left to right):

  1. Josh Cohen, facilitator and co-founder of Giant Innovation
  2. Martin Zagorsek, Entrepreneur in Residence at Citi Ventures (Citi Group)
  3. Cal Austin, Regional Director of Innovation at Pfizer
  4. Rachel Gordon, Global Innovation Director at PepsiCo
The NYC Centre for Social Innovation.
5- The NYC Centre for Social Innovation.

An inspiring co-working space to hang out in for the three days of the masterclass!

The NYCCentreForSocialInnovationdescribes itself as the ‘Swiss Army Knife of social innovation‘, it is a co-working space, community, and launchpad for people who are changing the world with Social Enterprises and NFP innovations.


like wish wonder
6- I like… I wish… I wonder…

The I like… I wish… I wonder… technique is a great way to reflect on each day of the masterclass (or any day!) in a relatively neutral way.

Also an easy way to collect feedback from team members. Something I might use when checking in with clients.


Corporate Innovation Masterclass Course

technical MVP
7- An extremely technical MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

An extremely technical MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for testing user reaction to our team’s app idea that will REVOLUTIONISE tourism in New York 🙂

I was amazed at how even such a basic visual gathered fantastic feedback and insights from users.

Yes… I walked around New York and asked complete strangers what they thought of this “app” in my notebook!


Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator
8- Panel session at Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator

Panel session at Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator with four startup founders Jacqueline Loeb from Scouted, Heather Waibel from Welnys, Daniel Michaeli from SaleMove, and Shaun for sharing their time and stories with us.

Focus of discussions was on how large corporates can work better with startups to leverage new and interesting ideas, products and services to outsource some innovation and stay competitive.

One of the callouts was around legal documentation. Massive, wordy, restrictive contracts with small startups are intimidating and they don’t have the resources to arrange for the appropriate legal review of these documents.

This got me thinking about contracts and ethics – at what point does the fact that we know a customer or supplier is not reading the contracts or understanding what they are agreeing to become an ethical issue? Practically, if we never rely on particular clauses, why have them in there….

isiting Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator
9 – Visiting Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator with wonderful fellow attendees Chase Rogers from CNA Insurance and
Suzanne LaMaine from Munich Reinsurance America, Inc.


Corporate Innovation Masterclass Course:

Drinks with fellow participants!

Interested in attending yourself? Giant run the Corporate Innovation Masterclass(and other events) a few times each year if you’re in New York.

giant innovators
11- Giant innovators!

The team from Giant Innovation and fellow innovative participants from large, diverse companies including Walmart, Ericsson, Citi Group, Rogers Communications, The Hershey Company, CNA Insurance, Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. and more!


💡 What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.