Gixer Stories

Leading an Innovation Lab is Like Making Fine Chocolates

Gixer Stories

Last year, CoStrategix tapped me to lead Gixer Labs – its internal innovation lab. I am naturally drawn to innovation, and I find our Gixer Labs is actually a lot like launching a business.


A couple of years ago, I started a side business selling fine chocolates. Since I had no experience in running a business or knowledge about the food industry, I started with a small proof of concept. Following a workshop on chocolate-making, I trialed and tested chocolates until I created a product set of high-end truffles that were opulent with a full-bodied flavor. I set up my e-commerce business and focused on events and corporate orders. I had to perfect a repeatable and scalable process: Every truffle had to be perfect, and exactly like the truffle before and after it. Once I knew I got it right, I shut down the business to refocus my energies on my day job at Costrategix.

Our Gixer Labs are similar. They are intended to be short, time-based experiments. Because CoStrategix helps clients lead with technology, we need to stay on the leading edge in the marketplace. The goals for our innovation lab projects reflect that orientation. Our Gixer Labs projects may:

  • Develop a proof of concept for applying a new technology
  • Create an internal asset that streamlines a process with reusable components
  • Showcase our capabilities with a demo for sales

Developing Our Process

Over a period of time, CoStrategix has established a six-step process for running innovative projects through the Gixer Labs:

Step 1 – Encourage Ideation: Ideas for Gixer Labs may come from CoStrategix employees (aka Gixers) on any team – sales, marketing, engineering, solution architecture, user experience, etc. Or, they might be submitted by individuals as part of their ongoing learning development plans. Either way, we work hard to stimulate ideas from across the organization, from managers as well as individual contributors.

Step 2 – Collect Ideas: We established a formal channel where any Gixer may submit an idea. This way all ideas are captured centrally, and every submitter has to fill out the same set of criteria for approval.

Step 3 – Review Ideas: We created a selection panel that includes representatives from different teams, with experience across different domains and verticals. We review ideas quarterly and select up to three projects to activate each quarter. For the ideas not selected, I share feedback and justification with the submitters. Some ideas may be backlogged for review in the next quarter.

Step 4 – Align a Team: Based on the projects selected, I work with our delivery team to free up hours for team members based on the required skills and work availability. People are usually very excited about the Gixer Labs projects. It’s a natural draw, and they are eager to contribute.

Step 5 – Execute: The execution phase is exactly like running any other project. We convert ideas into an agile roadmap and align stories and tasks to sprints. While we do not have a fully dedicated team to any Gixer Labs project, we do not treat this as a side project either. The moment we would indicate this is not a work priority, people would treat it as a lower-priority task. Contributors track their time just as they would for any other client work.

Step 6 – Deliver the Finished Project: We execute a formal handoff just as we would for any other project. For instance, we may deliver the solution in a common git repository or document a process via a wiki. We may also share the outcome through a webinar, blog, or internal demo day presentation.

Acquiring New Skillsets

For a technology company like CoStrategix, innovation is not just a buzzword but an opportunity for us to establish ourselves as a leader in digital and data solutions. Because our varied pool of talent works on different and complex client projects every day, we are in a position to identify many small and large opportunities for innovation. Gixer Labs provides a path for our team both to acquire new skill sets and also turn opportunities into reality.

Gixer Labs is a formal way to gather all such ideas and make sure that those ideas are heard, debated, executed, and shared across stakeholders internal and external to the company.

If you are interested in joining the CoStrategix team, please check out our job openings.