So, as the name would indication, the CII is about "incubating" new ideas that employees storm up. Here is what happens:
- CII has a website where you can browse all the old ideas that people have submitted (to make sure you're not submitting a duplicate). And its a great place to find some "inspiration".
- Then on the website it tells you to run a few personal checks on the idea: "do your friends think its a good idea?" Another check that I read on another website said: "Can you convince people to join your development team? If not, its probably not as good an idea as you think it is".
- Then you can submit right through their website. You write a synaposis of your idea; it is how you would describe your idea to someone outside of the Boeing company. And you also write your "Marketing Plan / Strategy".
- So, you've spent approximately 15 minutes of work on your idea... and already, things are about to start happening, because in just a few days, you're going to be contacted by an business analyst from the CII group. This is as far as I've made it in the "pipeline", so the rest is just what I've read and heard from various sources.
- Now you get prepped for you "Gate I" review. This is you pitching your idea (more formally) to all the CII analysts, and some subject matter experts (SMEs). If they like your idea, and think you/your team are the people to move forward with it... you've just got yourself some funding!
- Now you're in Phase II of your idea. You start building your real business model... you know... how is your idea going to make money? Basically you spend this time talking to possible business partners and suppliers, and getting a business proposal ready to pitch it to the President or Vice President of a interested business unit (If you don't know, Boeing is made up of a few business units (BUs), Commercial Airplanes, Integrated Defense, Capital Corporation, etc).
- You're hitting "Gate II" right now. This is where you're pitching your idea to VPs and Presidents. And you better do a good job too, because your CII funding is all gone. If your idea doesn't get picked up by one of the BUs now... its all over.
- Congrats, you've just passed Gate II, now there are a few options. You can go back to your normal job, and pretend you never did anything... but you get the satisfaction of knowing that your idea took off... and is going to be put into actual use. OR You can move with your idea and work on the development of that. Now you're getting funding from the BU that liked your idea... you get to start actually developing your product.
The company that helped develop the CII program has a case study about it, and if you're interested in the CII, you should read it [pdf] [HTML].
Now, about MY idea: Have you ever been on a long flight (or anything longer than about an hour)? No matter how good the book you brought is... you're always bored on the plane. The food tray in the seatback in front of you isn't quite big enough to play a board game on. So, why not bust out that shiny laptop that you've brought on the trip with you (but you're not sure why you brought it) and play some video games. Well, single player games lose their appeal pretty quickly... but who is there to play a game against? Well, you're in a confined space with at least 100 other bored people... and a lot of them have laptops too. See where I'm going? An intra-airplane gaming network. Connexion by Boeing establishes a wireless network on the airplane... so the hardware is done. Now we need the games, and a way to connect the people in the airplane together. Oh, and we need to figure out a business model that will work for this service.
There are lots of ways to expand on this basic idea too. For example: The Boeing Airbourne Network for Gaming (BANG... and YES I did just make that up) could be born. Now you can play against people on OTHER flights too!
I'm suppose to talk to my analyst later today (today is my day off... but I'm really excited about working with the CII), so we'll see how far my idea makes it. Even if this idea doesn't take off, I'm definitely going to keep coming up with ideas until one does!