General Mills fosters intrapreneurship with Idea Weekend

by Mike Bollinger


General Mills recently held their first ‘Idea Weekend’ at their headquarters in Golden Valley. 

Dubbed “Idea Weekend”, and modeled very closely off of the Startup Weekend concept in the Twin Cities and elsewhere around the world, Idea Weekend was born out of the desire to capture the ideas, talent, and creativity of General Mills employees and provide an environment in which those ideas could be tried, executed, and gain exposure in a very short time.

Idea Weekend differed from Startup Weekend in a few key ways — the primary being that it was open only to internal employees of General Mills and was centered around intrapreneurship instead of entrepreneurship.

The event kick-off began last Friday morning at corporate headquarters with thirty 60-second pitches offered by employees and managers inside the company. Those 30 ideas were voted upon and narrowed to the 6 most popular ideas.  Ultimately 5 of those ideas moved forward. Teams were given 30 hours to develop and prove their concepts until the final judging event on Saturday evening.

All the ideas that were pitched related directly to technology in General Mills business.  Ideas ranged from apps to improve productivity of employees to advertising concepts for in-store displays to statistical models that provide better insight into sourcing and logistics. Teams were judged on 3 primary criteria: 1) solution creativity 2) business value / strategic alignment for General Mills; and 3) execution.

The event sparked a lot of interest and attention inside General Mills and enjoyed fairly wide support inside the global organization, demonstrated by the fact that members of the executive leadership team—Mike Martiny (CIO) and Denise Holloman (VP Continuous Improvement)—were judges for the event.

“At General Mills, one of our best resources for innovation are our own employees.  Activities like Idea Weekend give employees the opportunity to bring forward innovative ideas and cutting edge solutions to help drive our businesses,” said Tim Huebsch, Global Business Solutions Engagement Manager and Co-Leader of General Mills Idea Weekend.


  • kamranayub

    Thanks for being there Mike, we had a ton of fun!