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5 Big Biz Think Tank Techniques

Larger companies are using innovation centers to encourage and implement new ideas. What can you learn from their tactics?

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This story appears in the March 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Inside a 24,000-square-foot warehouse in Romeoville, Illinois, a team of 70 McDonald's employees is hard at work testing new equipment ideas and procedures that could be implemented in McDonald's locations around the world.

The Romeoville facility is the company's Innovation Center and includes three McDonald's restaurants that can mimic the menu, volume patterns and operating systems of stores worldwide. A few thousand ideas were tested last year, and about 15 made the cut for deployment throughout the chain. "For a company like ours to remain appealing to customers around the world, we can't afford to relax and play it safe," says Ken Koziol, McDonald's senior vice president of worldwide restaurant innovation at the Romeoville facility.

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