A Case for Creativity: Our Internal Incubator
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A Case for Creativity: Our Internal Incubator

Mark King shares the “why” behind Taco Bell’s biggest - and most important - collaboration yet.

Everyone is talking about the future of work, the workplace and corporate culture. At Taco Bell, we're adding one more ingredient to the mix: Restless Creativity.

I talk a lot about Restless Creativity. We don't have a single definition for it, but I like to describe it as the pursuit of positive disruption. It's the insatiable hunger for newness and the unconventional. It's our drive to not just do the work, but to innovate; to pursue the impossible. You get the idea.

So yes, we've been planning for the future of work. But we knew that a post-pandemic world was an opportunity to not only rethink office space, telecommuting, and flexibility, but to design a culture that puts Restless Creativity into action for any employee who wants to be part of it.

And so, our Internal Incubator program was born. It's meant to operationalize creativity, weaving it into our corporate culture to empower every employee at every level to channel their passion into ideation. In other words, it slashes the common thinking that something "is outside my scope of work, I can't voice my idea on that."

The Internal Incubator is different from anything we've ever done. It carves out the time, space, money and leadership buy-in to think creatively. And that's because good ideas come from everyone — they just need to be harnessed.

So how does it work? Employees choose to opt-in. When they do, they learn creative thinking techniques, receive a specific "brand challenge," assemble their ideas into a business plan and receive feedback from a judging panel of Taco Bell stakeholders and partners.

So many people signed up for our first Incubator that we created more sessions just to meet the need. What was amazing to see was how many people surprised themselves with their own creativity. The ideas were so impressive that we're trying to figure out a way to make seven of them happen (initially we were going to choose only one!). I can't share too much yet, but I have a feeling this isn't the last blog I'll write on this topic.

We've since launched two more Incubators with two new challenges. We're only a few months in, but I can tell you – no one inside Taco Bell needs convincing that this program is on to something special...

A history of innovation doesn't guarantee a future of innovation; continued success relies on our employees, both their incredible ideas and their happiness at work. This program is all about breaking down the top-down barriers of years past and unlocking that potential inside each and every one of us. I want us to own and define our future — both at work and in life.

Taco Bell is ripe for growth and seasoned for the future, and our employees are the secret sauce who will make magic happen.

Want to hear more from the minds behind the magic? Listen to my interview below with Natasha Gaffoglio, Senior Manager, Internal Communications, and Lee Kitchen, Independent Company Culture Consultant, about activating Restless Creativity among ALL employees to bring the Incubator to life.