Inspiring Innovation

How Discovery created a culture of innovation, generating 274 ideas from across 20 countries.





Use Case

Employee Experience


Workplace from Facebook


To create a company-wide culture of innovation


10 K







Innovation everywhere

In 2019, Discovery launched Spark Innovation, an initiative designed to create a company-wide culture of innovation by asking employees across EMEA to submit their ideas and insights.

They focused on key business objectives and the initial campaign was a success, but employees submitted ideas via Google forms, resulting in heavy manual labour to communicate back to submitters and a lack of transparency for employees on ideas from elsewhere in the business.

By 2020, they were looking to scale up the initiative and reach greater heights, engaging those employees from small areas of the business who were harder to reach.

To do this, Spark founders Stephen Lee, VP EMEA Portfolio Strategy and Innovation, and Irene Scardia, EMEA Innovation and Internal Communications Senior Manager, knew they needed to find a way to make idea submission and management engaging, transparent, and efficient.

It's always a challenge finding needles in hundreds of haystacks. With Spark Innovation we can find these gems–and to our pleasant surprise, the quietest offices, traditionally with the least power, are submitting

the most ideas.

Stephen Lee Stephen Lee, VP EMEA Portfolio Strategy and Innovation Discovery


Spark Innovation, EMEA

To achieve its goal, Discovery decided to move its employee ideas program, ‘Spark Innovation EMEA’, onto the pre-existing global social tool, Workplace from Facebook, with the help of Sideways 6.

Employees would post ideas on Workplace and then the Sideways 6 chatbot comes to life to ask them more about their idea - e.g. “Why is your idea great?” and “How many resources do you need?”.

All of those ideas feed into Sideways 6’s idea management platform so they can be categorized and managed in one place. This also allows Discovery to communicate progress back to their employees with automatic chatbot responses and updates.

By meeting employees on the network they were already actively using, Discovery was able to reach more employees from smaller pockets of the business and help to build a culture of innovation throughout the organization.

We wanted to create a sense of belonging. We began with the Facebook-like interface, but when we started using it, other potential uses of Workplace from Facebook came out.

Irene Scardia Irene Scardia, EMEA Innovation and Internal Communications Senior Manager Discovery

The Campaign

Spark Antivirus

As part of the Spark Innovation program, Discovery was to run focused employee ideas campaigns, but the initial plans for its first Spark campaign were dashed when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

Rather than giving up, Irene and Stephen decided to adapt to the situation by launching the ‘Spark Antivirus’ campaign, harnessing the power of crowdsourcing ideas to help Discovery stay resilient throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite the new challenges of working in isolation, increased workload, and continuous uncertainty, Discovery employees rallied together to pour their energy into generating Spark Antivirus ideas.

The campaign was a huge success, with a 4x increase of ideas from the previous year (274 idea submissions up from 63 in 2019).

Employees proposed a new ad sales technology solution in Italy, and others promoted sustainability by reducing intra-company shipments and adopting evergreen T-shirts for the company’s annual volunteering day.

And during the days of lockdowns and quarantines, German teammates were able to launch their first-ever entertainment podcast, which went all the way to #2 in the true-crime space.

By encouraging employees to think outside their day-to-day role, and – more importantly – creating an inclusive and collaborative community, the Spark Innovation Program has demonstrated how crowd-sourcing innovation can make a real impact at Discovery.


Discovery Spark Innovation

Sideways 6

Spark 2021

Building off the success of their ‘Spark Antivirus’ campaign, Discovery returned for a third year in 2021 with a call for ideas specifically on discovery+, Discovery’s newly launched entertainment streaming service.

Discovery looked to capitalize on the strong culture of innovation they had built with a renewed focus on bringing ideas to life.

The campaign has grown in success with several ideas already implemented, such as launching a dedicated LGBTQ+ content page called ‘Pride & Non-Prejudice’ during Pride month and a ‘Discover Japan’ episode playlist highlighting Japan-related entertainment shows to sit alongside their Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 coverage.

All new hires at Discovery have been given free access to discovery+ as an onboarding benefit as a result of another Spark idea.

Thanks to the impressive campaign communications, Discovery was able to maintain widespread engagement in the campaign, helping to further develop their strong internal culture of collaborative innovation.

Spark Innovation has brought power to the people! We love seeing how energized employees have driven their ideas to reality, fueled by their passion and sense of ownership over their projects.

Stephen Lee - Discovery Stephen Lee, VP EMEA Portfolio Strategy and Innovation Discovery


What's next?

The Spark Innovation Program is a way to encourage community-driven change at Discovery whilst engaging employees at all levels of the business, uniting disparate areas under a collective goal, and it has done exactly that with 87% of Discovery employees feeling happy with the program.

From addressing sustainability concerns to more day-to-day problems, Spark Innovation has encouraged a culture of collaboration and employee-led innovation at Discovery.

Employees now feel a sense of belonging more than ever, with 76% of employees feeling that Spark Innovation made their ideas heard and gave them the possibility to have an impact on the business, whilst 72% felt part of a bigger EMEA team because of Spark Innovation.

But this is just the beginning... As we look forward, Discovery’s innovation program will continue with 83% of employees stating their interest in participating in future Spark Innovation programs. 

The innovation team has already spun off a new campaign focused on the large team in Poland to ideate on new ways of working in a hybrid office.

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