To stay competitive and relevant in today's fast-paced world, innovative thinking is critical. At Hyper Island, we firmly believe customer centricity and creativity are key to making a real innovative impact. That's why we’ve created the Spark Innovation Program, a collaborative experience for teams looking to begin their innovation journey. Whether it's new solutions for customers or simply a shift in mindset, the program is designed to unleash your full creative potential and help to tackle problems in new and exciting ways. Here, we take a closer look at the process and its benefits. Ready to ignite your creativity and take on the world with a fresh perspective? Keep reading!

What is the Spark Innovation Program?

The Spark Innovation Program is a powerful creative process to bring new energy and ideas to what you already do. Participants are equipped with the tools and confidence to unleash creative potential and support innovation when decision making and problem solving. Driven by the belief that everyone has the potential to make a real impact, the program aims to take you on a journey that will change the way you see innovation, whether that’s a new mindset or simply a shift in one.

Listen to Wendy Shi, Innovation Ambassador at IKEA, describe her Spark experience:

Girl in a jacket

A real-world innovation challenge

What powerful creative process would be complete without a real-world challenge? Enter leading global brand IKEA, and the North Asia team’s desire to train at least 10% of staff to become innovators within the organisation.

It was this goal that became the focal point of the first pilot initiative, “400 Innovators”. A six-week blended learning experience to build a culture of innovation, fostering creative thinking, and experimentation in the workplace. A key player in this collaboration was Innovation Ambassador at IKEA North Asia, Wendy Shi. She heads up the Innovation and Transformation team, dedicated to driving innovation and constantly looking to develop solutions that will transform the entire company. She explains the purpose behind the initiative for IKEA North Asia:

“We want our innovators to be able to adapt to new ways of thinking and working, so that they can influence others and enable different innovations that can be put into practice. The initiative became more of a journey rather than a training program. We wanted to create different opportunities for our teams to experience the culture and methods of innovation in a real project.”


Meeting the innovative needs of a rapidly changing world

Participants worked as part of intimate breakout groups. They delved into customers’ feedback and learned how to find real problems to solve, as well as how to ideate, prototype, experiment, and iterate. This knowledge could then be integrated into daily ways of working, with the added bonus of gaining the confidence to influence other colleagues to try things in a different way.

Wendy provides an insight into IKEA’s way of thinking:

“What works today may fail tomorrow. Although IKEA has a strong foundation, we still need to remain flexible. We must constantly renew and improve so that we can stay relevant and competitive in the market. We believe that innovation can be small or big, incremental or revolutionary. It’s our job in the Innovation and Transformation Department to find ways to ensure that different innovations can occur faster and more frequently within the organisation – all on a sustainable basis. That’s why we chose to train more innovators instead of looking to drive innovation on our own.”


The Spark Innovation Program became an opportunity for people with various expertise to collaborate and perform in real innovation projects. Wendy and her team were just bystanders in this process. Far from it. Alongside being heavily involved throughout, they also fully welcomed the ‘learn by doing’ mantra that’s now deep rooted in Hyper Island’s DNA. It allowed Wendy, along with the industry leaders at Hyper Island, to guide participants as leaders, facilitators, and contributors.

Prior to the program, Wendy and her team identified the following standout challenges for IKEA to overcome:

  1. How does IKEA offer a smooth online and offline customer experience? IKEA has already proved its advantages when it comes to an effective physical experience for its customers, but how can they integrate the digital experience to offer an even better shopping experience?
  2. How can IKEA consolidate different data and use it more efficiently? Doing so would help to achieve a more customer-centric and data-driven organisation that meets the evolving needs of its customers – all while improving its internal operations and efficiency.

An ongoing learning journey

The Spark Innovation Program produced some impressive, wide-reaching results:

  • 55 participants
  • 3 countries and regions
  • 10 different stores
  • 40+ different roles
  • 200+ ideas generated
  • 20 purposeful challenges identified
  • 11 ideas pitched and brought to life
  • 100% completion

The experience has been a successful learning experiment for all involved, which is supported by the 93% satisfaction rate.

Alongside the ideas pitched, some key innovation challenges were identified that could really help IKEA take their customer experience to completely new heights.

From in-store challenges (‘How might we help our customers find what they need in an IKEA store without too much walking?’) to internal ones (‘How might we build stronger trust and connection between different teams?’), and total outside-the-box thinking (‘How might we help young customers to build a house from zero?’). It’s this creative idea generation from outside influencers that can trigger transformational innovative solutions – even for globally established brands.

The Program doesn’t stop there though. Ideas presented by the cohorts are passed onto decision makers of different departments by Wendy and here, they’re taken into serious consideration for further development. Just imagine your idea being in with a chance of getting implemented into a global brand with ready-made solutions? Exciting, right?

Wendy explains her excitement for this long-term collaboration:

“In addition to following up on ideas, we are currently focusing on how to follow up with people, how to sustain the innovators’ energy levels and encourage them to continue the journey with us in the future. It should be an ongoing journey rather than just a one-off training program. So there are a lot of things that remain to be done. But it’s still exciting for me to start from small, continuous tests to develop the learning journey.”


Want to find out more?

Watch our short film that explains what the Spark Innovation Program is all about.

Got questions?

Feel free to reach out to Juanita, our APAC Business Development Head extraordinaire at

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Article updated on: 12 March 2024