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Empowering Ideapreneurship Forrester Award Submission

Executive Summary

In 2 years 30,000 HCL Ideapreneurs (idea led entrepreneurs) created $ 700 million business impact for customers by generating 25000 innovative ideas , servicing 1500 customer (business) leads & 3 business solutions through HCL’s culture of ’Ideapreneurship’. It empowers every employee at HCL with the ‘license to ideate’ for their customers via its belief in the values of Trust and Transparency, Employees First and Value Centricity.

Initiative Summary

Through business turmoil and industry upheavals– there is one thing that truly tests an organization’s resilience - its culture. While it evolves over the years, culture can become one of the most enduring strategies to drive business performance, increase customer value, and stay ahead of peers. The employee culture at HCL is a key catalyst for its healthy performance. It has led to a remarkable turnaround in HCL’s market share and mind share, over a period starting from 2005 till date and even helped the company sustain and survive the 2008 crisis. (HCL Revenues Details in Annexure 1)


At HCL we call this ideapreneurship – a culture which empowers individual employees to come up with innovative solutions to operational and customer challenges. Driven by HCL’s ‘Employees First customer second (EFCS) ’ philosophy it encourages employees to become idea led entrepreneurs or ideapreneurs who seize every opportunity to create value for the customer. The culture at HCL and its impact on employee-driven innovation and business performance has been published as case studies by Cambridge University and HEC Paris. Today, as the world’s largest ideapreneurship, HCL is creating a unique place for itself in the minds of its customers and in the industry.

Business Problem / Problem statement

In 2005, all seemed fine at HCL – on the surface. The company was rapidly expanding its global footprint, both in its customer base and operations and growing at a cumulative average of 35%. Yet under this veneer of success, all was not well. In fact, HCL was growing slower than its rivals and steadily losing market share, mindshare and “talent share.”

It was time to ask some tough questions, identify the core fundamentals of the business, and re-think roles, including that of the leadership and management. This led HCL to uncover the following:

  • In the business of IT services, it was evident that value no longer lay in the technology itself and certainly not in any particular hardware or software
  • HCL observed that maximum value was created at the employee-customer interface, called the “value zone”, where frontline employees brought both business and technology together to create customized solutions for customers

In order to maximize value creation for customers, the role of managers needed to be redefined - which would be to encourage, enthuse and empower employees


The first phase of the transformation journey was “management-driven and employee embraced”. During this time the value system that would drive HCL’s culture going forward started spreading across the organization. These were:

  • Mirror Mirror: This is a process of introspection, self-discovery by looking 'inside out' instead of 'outside in'. It is about embracing the reality that any transformation can begin once we identify the problem and create a need for change to occur
  • Trust through transparency: Now we need to bridge the gap between our intent to change and the actual act of bringing about change. This is done when we establish trust amongst ourselves and create transparent processes with open communication
  • Inverting the organization pyramid: It is also important to democratize teams and build the right structures within our environment, which makes change a sustained process.
  • Recasting the role of the CEO: Once these structures have been put in place, the transformation then demands creating new, self-driven owners for change and decentralized decision making that will take the process further

In the first phase of the journey HCL launched many tools and programs to empower and enable employees.

Employee Passion indicative count (EPIC)

EPIC​In keeping with the “mirror mirror” value tenet, HCL launched EPIC to help employees identify the key “passion” drivers that help them excel at work. The EPIC survey is an annual voluntary survey that asks employees to rate their agreement (using a five point scale) with 90 bipolar statements. These statements measure employees' alignment with three passion themes—secular, self, and social. Each personalized report is available within 24 hours of completing the survey and managers receive an aggregate report of the team's responses once the survey is closed.This exercise enables managers to better understand the competencies of their team members. EPIC focuses on action-orientation through a platform called PEET (Post EPIC Effectiveness Tracker) which gives a quantitative approach towards team development and it allows the managers to keep track of the development activities they conduct for their teams. EPIC results impact performance and productivity, proving that passion is a key factor that must be kindled in all employees. In the past 3 years we have seen an increase in employee participation in EPIC from 40,000 in 2010 to 71000 in 2013. EPIC was not rolled out in 2012, due to some structural changes in the format.


‘Recasting the role of the CEO’ inspired one of the most unique initiatives that for formulating business strategy. With the help of “Directions” the CEO and senior leadership at HCL engaged in face-face communication with employees across the globe to share the achievement of the previous year and the business vision going forward. By keeping the window of communication always open HCL was able to create trust in employees and most importantly gave them a platform to discuss their opinions on the company strategy. Over the past 3 years 72000 employees have been able to engage in open and honest discussion with leadership at HCL.

360 Degree Feedback

360 DegreeTrust through transparency is vital to a culture that celebrates the power of an empowered employee. The 360 degree feedback was launched to bring in greater accountability among managers. It allows all employees to rate their managers, their manager’s managers, and other senior managers in the company including the CEO. While the name of the employee giving feedback was kept anonymous, the results are available for all to see on the intranet. HCL’s former CEO was among the first few managers to make their feedback public.

While many organizations have a feedback system 360 degree feedback was unique because:

  • It made the feedback report public to all employees through the intranet
  • It enabled feedback not only by employees in a managers direct hierarchy but also by peers

Thousands of managers posted their own 360 degree feedback results on the intranet. This has helped employees understand the key areas for improvement and chart a development path towards the same. Over the past few years there has been a 48.5% increase in participation from 47000 employees in 2012 to 71000 in 2013.

Smart Service Desk (SSD)

SSDSSD is a unique step in bringing reverse accountability into the organization. SSD makes the whole organization especially the enabling functions such as HR, Finance, Admin and Training, accountable towards employees where employees can raise a ticket towards any department or internal service provider. Each ticket is bound with a service level agreement and only the employee who raised the ticket can close it.

SSD has become the channel of choice for employees to get their problems resolved, irrespective of any department in the organization. In the last 3 years, average ageing of tickets have reduced by 30 % ( 5 days in 2011 to4 days in 2012 to 3.5 days in 2013) .

Evolution of ideapreneurship: (idea led entrepreneurs)

All of the above initiatives were driven by management, and it helped in creating highly empowered workforce and a truly self-governed organization. But as business forces outside started changing, the culture too started evolving within HCL. This created an entrepreneurial environment where employees were starting to take charge of change. This was clearly the next phase of HCL’s transformation journey that was ‘employee driven and management embraced’ and is called ideapreneurship.

Ideapreneurship Framework

As a result of ideapreneurship, management saw a huge change in employee behavior. Collaboration, among employees and with customers, led to a pattern of grassroots innovation where employee started taking accountability for both HCL’s and the customer’s business.

Today HCL employees are “ideapreneurs” working in an entrepreneurial environment with the following characteristics:

  • Need to seed: Seek alternatives that go beyond the ordinary, generating and fostering ideas that challenge the status quo
  • Desire to nurture: Developing networks that nurture these ideas to realization and evolving the scope of ideas towards implementation
  • Commitment to harvest: Recognizing results and rewarding business outcomes. Incubating an entrepreneurial eco-system that self sustains growth

Tools and policies were created to help support and nurture this culture of ideapreneurship

  • Platforms such as MAD JAM, LeadGen and Value Portal provided employees with channels to innovate on regular basis and add value to customers and HCL by seeding ideas on a regular basis.
  • Self-discovery tools such as the ideapreneurship assessment tool help an individual employee become an ideal ideapreneur. It measures their ideapreneurship quotient and suggests steps to jumpstart elevate their performance.

The ideapreneurship reward and recognition policy has also been put in place that outlines the monetary reward and recognition available to employees for contributing to the various ideapreneurship platforms. 

Employees have access to the following platforms/programs to unleash the true power of ideapreneurship:

Value Creation Portal

World’s first employee driven customer centric innovation platform which has generated 25000 ideas, implemented around 7000 ideas leading to $ 450 million savings for HCL ‘s customer.

Value Creation Portal is the first of its kind among IT service providers. Through this platform employees at all levels in the organization can generate ideas for customers on a daily basis. The Portal brings together people from two organizations (service provider and customer), from multiple groups (like from multiple technology groups but working for the same customer), from multiple locations (distributed workforce), and multiple domains (sometimes, for cross domain best practices) to enable sharing of knowledge, ideas and solutions to address common goals/problems. It is brings together not just the employees of HCL, but also the employees of customer organizations, to share the common goal of co-creating value.

Value Creation Portal

Through Value Portal employees can share ideas around cost optimization, reducing cycle time, improving processes, and developing tools and technical solutions to better serve the customers they work with. The entire process is workflow-based—linking project and related master data attributes in a SAP (ERP) platform.

Here’s how the innovation process works:

  • The ideas raised by employees go through workflow cycles and are shared with customers for feedback and approval
  • Estimates on cost and expected value generation are projected and some of the ideas are chosen for implementation
  • The shortlisted ideas are given guidance and mentorship for its successful implementation
  • The ideas are co-created and co-implemented through collaboration among working group members. This makes it easier for the customer to measure the value realized and sign off on the savings achieved through such an initiative

This portal over the years has generated huge value for HCL’s customers. Till date, 25000 innovative ideas have been developed for 400 HCL customers through 15000 HCL ideapreneurs delivering savings of USD 450 million.

Other business outcomes

  • In FY2012, HCL employees generated 4800 ideas and implemented 1507 ideas for customers creating a business impact of $42 million
  • In FY2013, HCL Employees generated 7000 ideas and implemented 2548 ideas for customers creating a business impact of $154 million
  • In FY2014 (till date) HCL employees generated 6700 ideas and implemented 2300 ideas with an impact of $250 million

Value Portal Outcomes


Ideas are not just about finding solutions. They are also about servicing customer’s needs – and building new business. LeadGen, a program designed by HCL’s Sales Excellence Team (SET) is aimed at opening up an alternate channel of sourcing qualified business opportunities by tapping into the potential of 88,000 delivery employees. Delivery employees, who interface with the customer on a daily basis, were also identifying “leads”, key pain points and customer challenges that HCLT was not currently addressing. LeadGen offers these employees the right channel to take these “leads” forward, by connecting them with the right sales teams for converting the opportunity into a win for HCL.

LeadGen Portal

LeadGen encourages and incentivizes delivery to share leads that they come across in their personal and professional network. The leads are then taken up by the Sales team. Two immediate benefits of the program have been – 1) For HCL - improved booking, by providing real opportunities to sales teams that they are not privy to and (b) For HCL’s customers – ability to get their requirements met quickly by sharing opportunities as they arise. LeadGen has therefore been a “Win-Win” program for all its stakeholders.By 2015, 30% of Global 2000 companies that focus on improving lead management processes will increase their revenues by 5% to 10% (Gartner report). In a very short time, the LeadGen program has become one of the most successful lead generation channels for HCL and has seen phenomenal contribution from delivery employees since its launch.

Over the past 2 years there has been a significant increase in number of leads received from employees from 85 leads in 2012 to 676 leads in 2013 which created a tremendous increase in Business Impact from $ 10 mn in 2012 to $ 60.6 mn (refer the graph).

LeadGen Outcomes

In FY 2014 (till date) LeadGen has resulted in 1200 leads creating a funnel of $450 million and booking revenue of $ 195 million.


MADJAM Workflow“Make a Difference JAMboree” (MAD JAM) was developed in late 2010 as a centralized, crowd-sourcing platform for celebrating the business centric implemented ideas and innovation of employees from across HCLT. It provides employees with a platform to share their best ideas for innovation and transformation. A jury of senior delivery managers shortlist the best ideas, which are turned into videos and hosted on HCL intranet, where employees vote for their favorite entries, and on Youtube. 

MAD JAM 2013 was taken a step a further with the objective to help ideapreneurs take their ideas to the next level—convert them from concept to reality with the help of a MAD Venture Capital fund of USD 250000. The funding is available not for the winning ideas, but the ones which have the potential to scale-up and create a big business impact for HCLT.

MAD JAM is in its fourth season and already has 50,000 employees participating and 900 innovative ideas in the race to become the winner. MADJAM has seen a 30 % increase in number of entries received by employees from 157 in FY12 to 217 in FY13. 

MADJAM Outcomes

In 2014 MADJAM received 456 entries.

In 2012, the semifinalist ideas—including the ultimate winner, a Cloud computing management framework called MyCloud—have already generated more than $33 Million in savings or new revenue for HCLT customers. MAD JAM has seen all its winners across the past three seasons (My Cloud , ITSM Gold blue Print , Customer Onboarding )generate $ 50 mn revenue for HCL.


Video Link –

Business Outcomes

Way Forward

It is evident that ideas and innovation have become a way of life at HCL - and this is due to ideapreneurship. In the future platforms like Value Portal will allow employees to monetize innovation and impact HCL’s bottom line. LeadGen will help in harnessing the power of 88000 delivery employees to bolster the 800 people strategy salesforce. Initiatives like MAD JAM will offer platform for crowd sourcing ideas to tap unexplored and unchartered areas. It is evident that ideapreneurship is no longer just HCL’s culture. It is a long term strategy for competitive differentiation.

HCL Revenues

HCL Revenues

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