Invent IT: Lufthansa Intrapreneurs Program by Carina Leue-Bensch

Lufthansa Systems, IT services provider in the airline industry with over 300 airline customers, initiated an Intrapreneurs program named Invent IT in 2007-2008.

New Business and Innovation manager at Lufthansa Systems, and key executive of the program,  Carina Leue-Bensch takes us step by step through this extensive journey, and draws some leassons learned out of this 10 years experience.

The origin

An online tool was made available to any of the 2,000 employees of Lufthansa Systems (IT company for airlines) in 2008 along with the organisation of innovation, similar to Cooper’s stage gate process.


The goal was to combine ideation with stage gate: following the process, ideas could progress, avoiding the ‘Yes or No’ limited feedback. Employees expressed the need for some time and people to mature the idea, and somehow to make the selection process less mysterious. The platfom was due to embrace continuous adaptation!

Social Collaboration

2014 was the launch of a new tool, more collaborative, with a button to like an idea. It is not only the innovation manager who decides, and neither the top management, it is the trust of colleagues in the idea that matters.


It’s also more progressive. We see what an idea is about, and develop it in small steps. And at the end of 3 months, we know which resources an implementation requires.

The tool is open to any idea, not depending on a specific timeframe. You can enter whenever you want. We handle challenges, 2 or 3 at a time, in addition to a permanent one. A challenge runs for 6 weeks.


Employees put the idea, with the smallest barrier possible, and describes pain and gain of the solution. In order to decide which ideas should be taken forward each employee receives an equivalent of €1000 per year on a virtual account.

Once the idea collects €1000 from colleagues, the employee attends a One day Design Thinking workshop. In this phase, employees can send €50 on each project from their yearly €1000. Basically you need 20 employees to support your idea.


From Design Workshop to Funding

A Design workshop is accomplished with the employee, and he can invite up to 5 people more. The aim is to design a story with a persona in a similar way across ideas, and from the user perspective. Pain, need, solution, what has to be fulfilled to implement the idea are the elements of the story. The output is a 2′ video. The innovation team (2 people) uses story board, and captures the intrapreneur in front of a green wall.


The video will go back to the online tool to receive the financial support. The budget that is needed to realize the idea’s first steps is  published together with the video and open for funding. As soon as money is collected (employee can now invest up to 1000 € per idea during a 8 weeks timeline), the intrapreneur goes to the Sprint stage.

Dedicated Coaching for acceleration

Each intrapreneur follows a thorough and bespoke coaching path to improve his project during a 3 months timeline:

  • Google Sprint: developing and testing a prototype over 5 days; it brings together the idea owner, one designer, sometimes a second designer, experts interviews, product, customer, market representatives. You can apply and participate as an employee, we need your passion! 3 or 2 days. It can be a team of people. The outputs are: MVP, feedback from up to 5 customers. The team working on the project has to find at least one potential customer who says ok: then, next workshop is on track!


  • Business model canvas: 2 days workshop;
  • Pitch deck: 2 days workshop;
  • 3 or 4 Demo Days: 10′ presentation + 10′ Q&A; immediate decision; one demo day, to decide or to show everyone the project; the 4th presenting we’re going to the next stage.




An app to ensure that drones do not endanger air safety is one outcome of the process. The intrapreneurs were running the project in parallel with daily job part time. The app is about to be implemented as a project for the business.

The innovation program itself ends with the Demo Day. The innovation team stays as project counselors guiding the project, but the final implementation is taken over by project employees

Money gamification 

All people will then get the refunds: you can get up to 30% of your investment additionally on the extra account, depending if you have invested early or not.

You can get points for support, likes, comments. You can be upgraded from innovation pioneer to innovation starter, and become an innovation guru if you comment, and explore. The idea is to trade the points against vouchers.


The innovation leader gets a lot of visibility, as he will be presented at Demo Day.

What’s in there for me can ask the employees? Goodies, meeting with manager, learning innovation techniques, and opportunity to implement the creative idea with a dedicated coaching.

Innovation culture is more than just a tool for Lufthansa Systems. It is innovation thinking that the company wants to encourage. With the crowdfunding system combined with intrapreneurship program, people can shape and make ideas better, developing an innovative culture that frames the future of Lufthansa Systems.



1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s