4 pillars to let the innovation engine roar, at Total Booster

I met with Michael Offredi, Digital Ecosystem & Innovation Officer at TOTAL, and Delphine Pélisson, Head of The Booster Paris,  and Transformation & Collective Efficiency Catalyst, for an in-depth discovery of this singular corporate business accelerator.


What is The Booster purpose?

The Booster is a corporate entity that supply other group’s entities with an offering to support innovation and digital transformation. But it’s also a state of mind, an entity that emboddies transversality, startup approaches and new ways of working, and a physical space.

An initial workshop helped to co-create the offering with TOTAL branches (Exploration&Production, Refinery&Chemicals, Marketing&Services, Gas Renewables and Power): The Booster would not target business disruption, nor market watch and prospective. It would rather:

  1. Act as an Accelerator, and speed-up innovative and digital projects;
  2. Focus on the impact of Innovation on a short time frame, in complement to the mid-term R&D timeline of 5 years,
  3. Engage broadly all employees, and help those who have an idea to develop it,
  4. Accompany business units in engaging in transformational process
  5. Develop digital and data culture, and catalyse the roll-out of data project

What is The Booster value proposition?

From the initial offering, Think, Start, Develop, from February 2017, The Booster has extended its range of service to 6 lines, in order to address various needs, from the employees to the top executives level:

  1. Digital Project Acceleration; a program that enables testing New  Technologies, and prepare the roll-out;
  2. New ideas Incubation, and Intrapreneurship :
    • Multiple sourcing of ideas from the headquarters, from the innovation teams within the branches, and from innovation challenges on the  ‘Build In’ online platform;
    • Acceleration bootcamp : 2 to 3 days of maturation on idea selected, 4-5 projects, team building with 5 to 7 people mixing Total’s employees and external experts or startuppers, pitch rehearsal, selection by branch committee, followed by a test and learn phase over 6 months;3 batches have been completed so far, with up to 4 projects selected per batch;
    • Intrapreneurs are supported according to branches’ possibilities: mission assignment of 20-50% to 100% of working hours allocated to the project over 6 months, or ‘Innotime’ , which means 5-10% time allocated to intrapreneurship during the initial phase.
  3. Open Innovation:
    • Detecting opportunities and connecting start-ups with operational teams; supported by business sponsors;
    • An open innovation platform related to Industry 4.0 set by Total, with Vinci, Air Liquide, Orano, Eiffage and Solvay, partnering with Impulse Lab, looking up for startups, accelerating pilot on-site, opening the doors of oil refining industrial sites;
    • Another platform with Paris&Co, named Rhizome, and working on HR transformation and future of work, in order to modernize HR processes;
    • Internal innovation community, and collaboration with IT departments to complete POCs.
  4. Corporate Garage : digital empowerment of employees and fast prototyping with a frugal approach;
  5. Learning and discovery: acculturation, learning capsules (art of pitch, value proposition and business model, the Agile method), maker workshops with the Fab Lab included in the Corporate Garage, learning expeditions, presentations and demonstrations in events like CES and Viva technology;
  6. Collective Efficiency:
    • Working on complex and transverse problems solving (creating new offers, identifying needs, team dynamics, sharing a common vision, co-building roadmap and its roll-out…) and engaging business units into transformation through collaborative approaches;
    • A dedicated collaborative space at The Booster for half a day to 2 days workshops;
    • Co-created workshop with work sessions upstream, to adapt the facilitation, and the deliveries, involving all stakeholders;
    • Examples:  Geosciences, a 2-days workshop on AI with 30 participants, 90 use cases identified, 6 cases prioritized on semantic analysis and image recognition, leading to the strategic partnership with Google; Data Day on logistics with working operators; Acceleration on Digital Marketing; Managing Committee digital workshop; HR Data Session, spotting the right data for each employee;
    • More than 1500 employees onboarded over 70 sessions.


What are the 4 ‘secrets pillars’ of The Booster?

There are 4 specific pillars:

  1. A Diagnostic phase, to understand what is at stake (1 hour with a dedicated framework);
  2. Learning caps (art of pitch, prototyping, Agile, …), and tailored coaching, with an internal and an external mentor, in order to reach a goal defined with the intrapreneur; having completed several capsules might lead to an intrapreneur certificate in the future;
  3. Sponsor, and internal business angel / branch tutor;
  4. Working in synergies with the branches.


Which achievements so far?

Around 40 projects have been handled, sometimes through one single coaching session. They all agreed to the mutual engagement charter, and started to analyze what is at stake with The Booster team.

A dozen of projects are being incubated now, entering a phase of tests. 2 intrapreneurs projects, launched by the marketing branch, are residents at the Booster: Mr Asphalt a new business model for bitumen applications and marketing, and an IoT-based solution for lubricants tanks.


The framework is flexible: one project may be born in branch A, is distributed by branch B, and in trial in branch C! The Booster is a neutral zone where you can focus on work. The customer trial phase is where business units really engage, and appropriate the project.

Test and learn, user centric design, scale a specific topic at group level, develop replicability, engaging employees are The Booster’ mantra.

Run by a team of 4 people, The Paris Booster adresses all employees located at the headquarter in Paris La Défense, whatever their branch origin, and regularly hosts working sessions with employees coming from affiliates and from abroad. And The Booster is designed to work in network: The Pau Booster (3,000 employees in Pau area) started recently, and overseas Boosters are rising up!


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