Idea Weekend at General Mills
May 02, 2013 • By

Innovation starts with one good idea

The history of invention and innovation at General Mills is astounding – from the “puffing gun” developed to create cereals like Cheerios to “Space Food Sticks” carried by NASA astronauts into orbit in 1962.

That spirit of invention continues to thrive at General Mills, most recently at “Idea Weekend 2.0” held April 12-13.

At Idea Weekend, General Mills employees make 60-second pitches of their ideas, then form into teams to develop working prototypes – all in just two days.

Modeled after “Startup Weekend” – a non-profit organization that runs events around the world to spark new startup businesses – Idea Weekend showed that good ideas can come from anywhere within an organization.

Idea Weekend at General Mills

Forty-six employees from seven General Mills functions pitched a total of 35 ideas during the weekend — an even larger group than participated in our first Idea Weekend last year.  From there, the group voted on the top ideas and narrowed the list down to eight finalists, which were consolidated into six teams.

At the end of day two, each team presented its prototype and business case to senior leaders within General Mills.

The ideas covered a wide range of areas:

• GConnections: A new way to help employees network.

• GVenture: An employee innovation engine.

• Protein Power: An R&D process improvement that increases speed to market.

• Receipt Monster: A new way to reward consumers.

• SoFood: A place for people share personal stories about food.

• Waldo: An internal geo-location tool.

“I loved that we were able to ideate around creative solutions for our internal and external issues and that we had the chance to build a working prototype to share with senior leadership,” says Achala Gopal, an integrated communication planning associate with our Marketing department who participated in Idea Weekend. “I would say that Idea Weekend has been one of my most memorable experiences here at General Mills, and I’m looking forward to the next one.”

Idea Weekend is just one of many avenues at General Mills to find good ideas. Our General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network also works with people outside of General Mills who have innovative ideas for new products, packaging or products. So by all means, if you have an idea, please contact us.

Tim Huebsch, an engagement manager with our Global Business Solutions team and one of the founders of Idea Weekend, says the energy and passion of Idea Weekend participants is amazing.

“The amount the teams are able to accomplish in a very short period of time surprises everyone and the benefits go far beyond the weekend. New connections are created across functions, which will help ignite more good ideas into the future.”

You can read more about Idea Weekend 2.0 at TECHdotMN (“General Mills rocks Idea Weekend 2”).