CASE STUDY: Building a Robust Innovative Culture at GAM

by | 25 Jan 2021 | Management, Social & Relationships

Idea Sketch

Successful innovation is all about people, processes and technology. GAM Investments has always recognised that their employees are fantastically creative, proactive and innovative, but, until now, the company lacked the structure and tools to streamline their employees’ collective brainpower. By partnering with Idea Drop, they’ve been able to introduce the processes and technology to make their innovation goals a reality.

Since launching Idea Drop, GAM Investments has quickly and effectively uncovered their employees’ ideas, put those ideas in front of the right people and put their culture of innovation into action. In the first two weeks of operation, Idea Drop crowdsourced more than 100 ideas from 300 users and saw almost 2000 other interactions on the platform.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with GAM to help supercharge and scale up their innovation programme. GAM has rolled out Idea Drop in record time and within the first week of launching, the platform is already full of great ideas with hundreds of comments, ratings and other interactions. These are amazing results and we can’t wait to see how their innovation programme unfolds.” Jonny Fisher, CRO & Co-founder, Idea Drop

“Powered by Idea Drop, we are using technology to connect our people and help us respond to our clients’ needs by ensuring that our organisation remains connected and flat, allowing ideas to move further and be implemented faster.” Colin Bennett, Head of Digital Distribution, GAM


GAM Investments is an independent global asset management firm with over 35 years’ experience and expertise in financial services. The firm manages CHF 119.4 billion* in assets for institutions, financial advisers and private investors. With around 747 employees in 14 countries, GAM is a truly global firm in scale and resources.

*As at 30 June 2020.

The Challenge

There’s no doubt that GAM’s most important asset is their people and, by valuing diversity and inclusion, they clearly have a strong foundation for innovation to thrive in their organisation. Their employees have always been pro-active and creative but, until now, the company lacked a social network for sharing ideas and didn’t have the processes and technology in place to unlock their employees’ full potential.

Ideas weren’t being captured centrally and innovation was occurring on an ad-hoc basis. In addition, there was no system in place for showing employees what management was doing with the ideas they were presented with and no structure in place to see ideas through from conception to implementation. As a company that values innovation and complete transparency with its employees, this lack of clarity was an issue.

The Solution

As a truly innovative organisation, GAM realised that to create a successful innovation model, they needed a clear idea management process and the technology to facilitate that process at scale. They also wanted idea management software that could:

  • unify their employees across the globe
  • enable real-time collaboration
  • and act as a centralised place for ideas to be captured and followed through to implementation with full transparency.

GAM chose to partner with Idea Drop as the only vendor in the market that could fulfil all of their requirements. Their culture of innovation has never been more important than in today’s remote working environment. Given the COVID-19 crisis, which began shortly after our partnership commenced, GAM decided to launch and roll out the platform more quickly than planned in order to give their global team, who were now all working remotely, a tool to share their thoughts and ideas with the wider business.

“In the current climate when everyone is working at home, Idea Drop gives us an opportunity and a platform to collaborate and share ideas when collaborating is more difficult. Also, support from senior leadership means ideas will turn into actions.” Colin Bennett, Head of Digital Distribution

The Results

Idea Drop’s launch was hugely successful. In the first two weeks, almost 50% of GAM’s employees signed up to the platform, and more than 40% submitted an idea, 28 of which have already been actioned.

In addition, a significant proportion of ideas have benefited existing project work streams or helped to influence steering committees and management during a time of significant COVID-related change.

During the first two weeks, there were almost 2000 other interactions, with employees offering comments and ratings, and “favouriting” colleagues’ ideas, highlighting the considerable level of employee involvement and engagement with the newly launched innovation programme.

Particularly during lockdown, the voice, transparency and communications the platform gave all staff globally was invaluable.


Here’s why Idea Drop’s launch was so successful for GAM

After overseeing hundreds of global enterprise innovation programmes, we’ve developed an implementation plan that consistently delivers results, impact and value. From the outset, Idea Drop’s customer success team of innovation experts collaborated with GAM to work through our proven and thorough implementation process. This involved:

1. Well-defined innovation goals based on GAM’s business objectives

Every strategic innovation programme starts with setting powerful and attainable goals (you can learn more about setting your innovation goals here). We worked with GAM to extract and understand the key commercial drivers of the launch, as well as to understand their strategic and operational goals, to ensure that we aligned our technology solution with achieving these goals.

Working together, we devised the critical success factors (CSFs) for the launch, in order to measure its success. These CSFs typically include factors such as user engagement metrics, collaboration stats, ideation metrics (the number of ideas submitted, number of ideas moved to a particular phase or status) and user survey results.

2. Bespoke use of groups and categories

We worked with GAM to identify the volume and structure of their user groups, to ensure that the platform was aligned with their CSFs and key strategic goals. In GAM’s case, given that transparency was a key driver for launching the platform, they chose to have one group of users so that every idea can be shared with every user. Other organisations might choose different groups of users, depending on the objectives of their innovation programme; these groups might include a cross-section of employees from different teams, locations or divisions or even just a specific team.

3. Strong “innovation workflow”

We worked with GAM to put in place an effective “innovation workflow” to manage the steps between an idea’s conception and implementation. Every organisation has a unique workflow that reflects its structure and its innovation goals. We helped to define and then replicate GAM’s workflow on our platform to enable the technology to facilitate the streamlined progression of ideas and ensure that participants can see how far every idea has progressed.

4. “Innovation ambassadors” to keep things moving

Having a unique and clear innovation workflow is vital to GAM given the importance they place on governance and transparency. Making sure that ideas progress quickly and sustainably through the innovation process was also a priority. To ensure that there wouldn’t be any bottlenecks, GAM created an army of innovation volunteers (GAMbassadors) who are responsible for regularly reviewing ideas and making sure that ideas keep moving through the process across the company.

5. Collaboration in devising goal-oriented challenges

Based on their innovation goals, we co-authored with GAM to develop the first three challenges that they posted as part of Idea Drop’s initial launch, and worked on a further seven challenges in the weeks that followed. We ensured that these challenges were fully aligned with GAM’s business values and objectives, and that they met the best practices for devising a successful innovation challenge.

By participating in the videos that launched each challenge, GAM’s CEO highlighted the importance of participating in the company’s innovation efforts and undoubtedly helped to encourage employees to interact and engage; innovation challenges that include videos typically enjoy 58% higher engagement than those that don’t, and this number is even higher if the CEO participates.

6. Strong internal communications pre and post launch

Partnering with Idea Drop gives our clients access to our vast pool of knowledge, and the most advanced methodologies, tools and resources necessary to execute their internal comms campaigns efficiently and effectively.

Our team of experts created an internal comms guide for GAM based on the best practices and successes we’ve seen over the years working with hundreds of organisations, large and small, across different industries. The comms strategy outlines how to drive and sustain effective engagement at all stages of the Idea Drop lifecycle.

In addition, as part of the launch, GAM produced a comprehensive internal comms toolkit as the blueprint for the internal marketing campaign that announced the launch of the platform. The toolkit included a number of pre-formatted emails, posters, visuals and standard memos.

“This idea platform gives employees the opportunity to ask questions openly, honestly and directly and also to receive and implement suggestions for improvement. It is democratic and empowers everybody in the firm, from the bottom up, to have a positive impact.” Abigail Barnard, GAM

7. Actioning quick wins

Employees want to see tangible results, and quickly. With this in mind, GAM proactively sought opportunities to showcase that ideas are not only being reviewed but also quickly actioned if they don’t require a significant investment of time and resources. Just two weeks after launching Idea Drop, the company had already actioned two ideas, which is great encouragement for employees to continue to participate in their innovation programme.

What’s next?

The Idea Drop team is closely reviewing engagement and we’ll use all the findings from the initial launch to refine and tailor GAM’s continued roll-out plan and to maximise the effectiveness of the platform.

Photo by Mark Fletcher-Brown on Unsplash

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