It’s for those ideas that swirl around in your head at night. It’s for your team. It’s for the company. It’s for the kids and families you work with. And it can be yours IF you dare to swim with the sharks.
Necco has always prided itself on Meritocracy; “best idea wins, regardless of structural power”. But for years, we would impose ideas for new programs onto our offices: grants, requests for proposals (RFP), new services, etc. Bob Carpenter, COO, thought to flip that mindset using a similar process from the primetime television game show, Shark Tank.
Necco’s Shark Tank was designed after the ABC television series of the same name. “With Shark Tank, the people who are in the field, in the offices are bringing the ideas to us instead of corporate imposing the ideas. It’s an investment and it changes the process from push to pull”, Bob reports. Like the show, Bob wanted to see employees pitch their ideas to a panel of diverse stakeholders rather than a single supervisor or a program director.
When an employee has an idea for a new program or service, he or she discusses it with direct supervisors. The idea is then pitched to the “Guppy Tank”, a panel of various positions throughout the company. The panel then gives it either a thumbs up or thumbs down. Some ideas, like an RFP or contract for services, are time sensitive. In those situations, the ideas are sent directly to the Shark Tank. The final phase is the Shark Tank. It is the place where the questions get tougher. Employees must be prepared to provide answers to questions about implementation, data research, performance and SWOT analysis. The panel discusses the final proposal and either approves, denies or puts on hold for a later implementation date.
Since January of this year, two programs have been implemented utilizing the Shark Tank process and a total of 6 ideas have gone to the Guppy Tank! At the rate of the Shark Tank applications we are receiving, we're gonna need a bigger boat.