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Author Archives: Devin Mcintire

3 Reasons Healthcare Needs Idea Management

Healthcare Needs Idea ManagementIt’s hard enough to keep up in a complex industry like healthcare. But just wait till healthcare is disrupted as dramatically as retail or music has been over the past decade.

Clearly the healthcare industry has long been a competitive vertical (on numerous fronts: from patient services to technology and edge disciplines), and its complexity makes it harder to disrupt than others, but there is no denying that the challenges have accelerated. Unity Stoakes, in his What’s Now conversation earlier this Spring painted a persuasive picture of the accelerating forces driving what he sees as an exponential growth curve in the industry.

Much of this impending disruption has the potential to deliver wonderful benefits to individuals, organizations and society at large. In fact, an argument could be made that the more radical the change, the greater the potential benefits…. However, when it comes to managing change at your healthcare organization, how can we all stay on our toes and make the most of these accelerating changes?

At IdeaScale we’re working with a diversity of healthcare organizations from hospital systems to research and development institutions and medical technology companies. While some are working to increase knowledge sharing between traditionally siloed departments, others are focused on saving millions of dollars a year and still others are focused on accelerating product development.

At the core of what they’re all doing is building an idea management processes to ensure they get all hands on deck to stay competitive as the pace of change accelerates, and disruption increases. Here are a few key reasons your health organization wants to do the same:

Attract and retain top talentIf Unity is right about the current tide of talent transforming the healthcare sector (and he makes good arguments about how much increasing VC capital is attracting, then now is the time to make sure your employees are engaged and feel positive about workplace well-being. Attract talent in the next 5 years, don’t lose it.

Transform and deliver faster. Be more agile. The faster you can process new ideas, the more able your organization will be to identify and take advantage of new opportunities. This means you’ll have to be both ruthless towards ideas but generous about failure because testing is the best way to learn.

A well oiled-machine weathers the storm better. Deliver consistent process improvement throughout your organization and that will keep the engine purring no matter what influencing factors are creating change. When engineers design airplanes they take turbulence into account by focusing on the structural integrity of the airplane. If the next decade is bound to be a turbulent one for healthcare, leveraging your whole company to help optimize your processes will help improve operations, reduce errors and improve organizational integrity in a more predictable fashion. 

Learn more about the state of innovation in the healthcare industry in our white paper.

9 Ways Bailey’s Irish Cream Can Help You Innovate

Help You Innovate

 

It’s a cold, wet Spring, so let’s take a moment (and a sip or two?) to reflect on how great ideas become reality. Specifically, let’s consider the invention of Bailey’s Irish Cream and what it can teach us about idea management strategies that can support and amplify successful ideas.

On December 3rd, 2007, Diageo announced the sale of the billionth bottle of Baileys since it was first introduced in 1973. In the decade since, you can estimate that they’ve sold a further 250 million bottles. If we assume that every bottle of Baileys delivered eight generous servings that suggests that over 12 billion glasses of Baileys have been poured since it all began!

cheers

But the story of its invention is both informative and fun (highly recommended). But I’ve taken nine portable innovation lessons from it. Here they are:

Lesson One: Instantaneous Ideas Are Really Ideas With Great Groundwork

“The initial thought behind Baileys Irish Cream took about 30 seconds. In another 45 minutes the idea was formed. Baileys was like that for me. A decade of experience kicked in and delivered a great idea. It wasn’t as instant as it seemed.”

At IdeaScale, we provide an environment so that ideas (and idea fragments) have a place to grow, combine, and mature so that there is an actual place where inspiration can happen.

Lesson Two: Ideas Need a Chance!

“Where Hugh was more likely to intellectualise and think through the appalling consequences of dropping cream into Ireland’s beloved whiskey, I was all for doing it there and then.”

Make sure your idea management process is set up to avoid the trap of prevailing assumptions and encourages participants to feel comfortable proposing out-of-the-box ideas.

Lesson Three: Good Ideas Require Experimentation and Refinement

“We mixed the two ingredients in our kitchen, tasted the result and it was certainly intriguing, but in reality bloody awful. Undaunted, we threw in some sugar and it got better, but it still missed something.”

“We went back to the store, searching the shelves for something else, found our salvation in Cadbury’s Powdered Drinking Chocolate and added it to our formula. Hugh and I were taken by surprise. It tasted really good. Not only this, but the cream seemed to have the effect of making the drink taste stronger, like full-strength spirit. It was extraordinary.”

Good ideas hardly ever arrive fully formed. How are you tracking updates, improvements, and allowing others to build themselves into the process?

Lesson Four: Good Ideas Need Champions

“Over the years I have come to the conclusion that the real heroes of ideas are not the people who have them – they are the people who buy them.”

“Whatever we were doing, no matter what he thought of the taste, he knew what we were aiming for. Just a nod, that’s all he gave us. Not a yes but better than a no. Mac would be the man who would have to run with this. And he did.”

Good ideas need to exist in a marketplace where leaders and people with authority can learn about them and then take a chance on and invest in good ideas. How else are they going to discover them?

Lesson Five: Ideas Need to be Marketed

“Names can be tough and often really easy to reject with a comment like “I just don’t like it”…Being words, not graphic designs, they are within everyone’s purview so anyone can reject them. Getting to Baileys as quickly as we did was unusual. Indeed, as I discovered in later years, it was incredible.”

But it’s not just about the name, everything with a new idea needs to be packaged!

Lesson Six: Rapidly Prototype

“The next step was packaging, and we needed a bottle. Not being confident enough in the overall idea to suggest spending money on a new mould which could have run to several thousand pounds, we looked around for an existing bottle and Tom found one for an Irish whiskey brand that the company distributed called Redbreast. We decided we’d use that.”

Turn your idea into a potential reality as quickly and easily as possible so that your audience can have a better chance at understanding and contributing to your idea. Feedback starts the moment you’ve left the blank canvas behind.

Lesson Seven: Involve Others

“I wrote out a design brief and asked Amy to show it to him and get him to submit some designs as soon as he could…. A couple of days later Bob delivered… he had sent about 20 for us to choose from. Amy laid them out on our table and Tom, Hugh and I looked them over and immediately lit on one.”

“There was a huge buzz seeing an idea begin to assume a physical form. I was no designer so depended on other people to perform this magic.”

Good ideas become great ideas when you build a team around them.

Lesson Eight: The Role of Feedback

Feedback and validation is, of course, critical to the selection of an idea but the lesson here is to make sure you know what feedback you’re looking for. When Baileys finally had a potential bottle, label and name, the team took it to a bar for some market research. They served it to a group of men who declared it to be a “girly drink”. While it seemed like this could be a disaster for their new idea, they paid attention to all the feedback this group produced:

“After this what man was going to openly lay claim to liking “a girl’s drink”? It was an absolute no-no. But when we looked at their glasses every one of them had been drained. It might not have been their kind of drink, but there was nothing wrong with the taste.”

It was this keen observation that helped give the Bailey’s team the confidence they needed to take their prototype to Dublin and present it to executives.

Lesson Nine: The Best Ideas Take On Their Own Life

“No matter how well an idea is received, it is a complex entity and changes are inevitably made. The Baileys team now had to make its own imprint. The first thing they did was to remove the word “chocolate” from the description Irish Cream Chocolate Liqueur.”

Here’s why it matters, “As soon as they started making an imprint on this strange new idea they began to assume ownership. And once they owned it they would commit to it.”

Cheers to great ideas!

Be Innovative if You Want to Drive Innovation

Drive InnovationAn operations manager at a Fortune 500 hundred company recently asked me: “what are your thoughts on the best innovation ‘models’ to serve as guides for how individuals or teams can structure some of their thinking?”

It’s a great question and organizations we work with frequently want to make sure they’ve got a best practice methodology in place before implementing an idea management solution. This makes sense since innovation methodologies are often the result of extensive research and testing and provide important guidelines for implementation and operations.

Yet, when it comes to choosing which specific strategy to pursue, things get challenging because the truth is there is no single “right answer” and we’ve seen many strategies that work.

At IdeaScale we help Kane is Able and many other clients achieve their continuous improvement strategies such as Lean, Kaizen or Six Sigma. We work with clients to materialize their Design Thinking processes like we did with our customers at SAP, achieve their Agile product development and research operations, and implement business viability assessments based on COSTAR or Business Model Canvas.

What we also have a chance to witness with our clients, is that all pedagogies have limits. Limits in applicability or scope. Each has a set of required conditions for successful execution, and even when these are met some simply run their course.

When it comes to driving innovation then, the first and most important objective is to design a program that can frequently re-evaluate and re-invent itself. “Methodology agnostic” you might say.

Becoming methodology agnostic will allow you to focus on the shared success factors across methodologies. Specifically, we see that any implemented strategy works best when there is an alignment of purpose (what problem are you trying to solve) with a commitment to implementation (resources for creating change) from top-to-bottom.

In other words, delivering innovation happens when companies get in “the zone”.

However, it’s important to recognize how much of a complex system this “zone” is for all organizations. It’s influenced by everything from adoption rates of technologies to things like terminology and shifting corporate goals. The reality is you’re always gonna be in some manner of orbit or oscillation of “the zone”. The key then, when planning and strategizing about innovation, it to create an approach that is adaptive, reflective and rapid.

In conclusion, I’ll leave you with three specific recommendations.

  1. First, start with conversations about the jobs to be done, ensuring you’re able to articulate what objectives any chosen methodology should help you achieve. Perhaps you’ll even recognize that the distinctions between parts of your organization merit simultaneous but distinct methodologies.  
  2. Second, a commitment to implementation is critical for any choice, so explore the paths of least resistance and identify potential champions who can drive participation. The key is to be nimble in how you introduce and build consensus around ideologies. We’re looking to generate results sooner rather than later.
  3. Third, remember you’re designing for agility which means you’re only making a commitment to explore and evaluate. IdeaScale makes it easy to implement a high-level methodology (e.g. “design thinking lite”) without hiring a team of consultants or investing in comprehensive trainings.

A plug-and-play approach like IdeaScale allows you to pursue  innovation innovatively, gaining value from a wide variety of methodologies as fast as possible.

This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.

This post is by Devin Mcintire, Innovation Technology Adviser at IdeaScale. 

Incentives for Participation or Incentives for Success? What Works?

incentives for participationIn a fast-paced corporate environment where there are many expectations and a steady stream of work, how (and more importantly) why, would you carve out time to contribute to your company’s new ideation platform?

Recently a customer asked me if I could share some insight as to what type of incentives really work to drive engagement across divisions and companies. This is an extremely common question for new customers looking to ensure that they can justify their investment in an innovation management platform by ensuring good participation volumes. This customer in particular was interested in the impact of career advancement opportunities on participation volume.

It’s a great question because career advancement is known to be an excellent motivator and yet despite the evidenceour recent report showed that only 8% of our customers included “career growth” as one of their explicit incentive offerings.

While extrapolating success simply based on this is a little too messy to create a clean statement of fact, it is worth noting that every one of these respondents indicated that their IdeaScale innovation management program proved value within the first month of existence.

It turns out that successful incentive programs require a flexible, multi-faceted approach. Here’s why: your incentive strategy should be driven by your crowdsourcing objectives. In other words, if your goal is to source high-caliber, implementation-ready ideas then participation volume is simply one of several things you might want to optimize. Given that you may be sourcing different types of solutions, consider also focusing on how your incentives will impact the nature of the participation (e.g. highly detailed and technical, casual and quick or out-of-the-box), the specific type of participation (e.g. voting, commenting, scoring…) and the roles and composition of the participants (experts, front-line employees, customers, etc…).

For more information I recommend an insightful book called “Wiser” by Cass Sunstein and Reid Hastie. The book focuses on how to develop and leverage smart groups, specifically how incentives can lead to best solutions.

One of the most interesting things I learned was how individuals within teams perform better as individuals when incentives are offered for the team as a whole. In other words, if you offer a prize to the team/department from which the best idea comes from, you’ll achieve a few things: 1. The classic extrinsic reward-type motivation, 2. enhanced collaboration via shared objectives, and 3. reduced risk to individuals for stepping outside of groupthink (commonly accepted wisdom) or traditional hierarchy, thus leading to a healthier diversity of input and output.

Regarding the type of career advancement you can actually offer, you might consider creating the opportunity for the idea submitter to continue working on their ideas with flex time. based on the work some professors at the University of Michigan have done called “job crafting” which I wrote a little bit about here, This would be a great signal to all employees that you’re interested in allowing employees to drive positive change within their own roles and based on the job crafting literature, this can have some pretty powerful impacts organizationally and drive continued participation as employees would see the idea platform as a way to drive this process. From the Wiser perspective, by doing this, you’re also helping to inspire participants to share ideas that they are passionate about rather than what they might think management wants to hear and thus increasing the caliber of participation rather than simply volume. You can also find a list of non-monetary rewards to incentivize engagement on our resources page. 

Have you read Wiser or do you have other insights to share on what makes a great incentive program? Let me know [email protected] or on twitter @devinmcintire

This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.

This post is by Devin Mcintire, Innovation Technology Advisor at IdeaScale

Transforming workplace culture with your innovation management program

workplace well-being

Defining and achieving concrete improvements in organizational culture and employee performance is a challenge for organizations of all types. This is an acute reality when an organization is facing a clear mandate or opportunity for this type of change.

Even when a solution, tool or methodology is introduced, it will likely face some internal resistance and shoulder heavy expectations. Those in charge of managing this change are often pushed to justify their efforts and expenditures in a fashion that doesn’t align with the type of gains that are being sought.

The challenge is that so-called “soft” outcomes have indirect paths onto the balance sheet and can be difficult to articulate in a strategy or in terms of ROI potential. Not being quantitative doesn’t mean however, that there aren’t theoretically rigorous approaches to creating positive outcomes.

In fact, the rest of this post should help you both better articulate what it is you’re trying to achieve (workplace well-being) and introduce empirically validated theories for you to use when developing a rigorous approach towards achieving these goals with an Innovation Management program.

Workplace Well-beingwhat we’re striving for

workplace well-beingAt a high-level, what we’re talking about is building organizations where employees are productive, personally fulfilled and able to respond adaptively to the dynamic work environment of a 21st century organization. Often this set of characteristics is referred to as “organizational and employee well-being” and is considered “a fundamental element of successful organizations.” It’s manifestations are numerous and include high performing teams, reduced turnover, avoidance of burnout, higher rates of learning and professional development, accelerated knowledge sharing, reduced risk-aversion among middle management and increased organizational citizenship.

While well-being is clearly important, it is also a subjective status and complex concept. For example, Gallup has broken it down into five essential elements and their research is useful for thinking about various aspects of your organization at this stage.

Achieving Workplace Well-being with Innovation Management

When it comes to Innovation Management, there are two key concepts, “Autonomy Support” and “Job Crafting” that you can think of as building blocks of workplace well-being. They have been developed through empirical research and are supported by our experience here at IdeaScale.

Building Autonomy Supporting Environments

workplace well-beingAutonomy support refers to the empathetic and empowering context cultivated by acknowledging and understanding employee perspectives. When achieved it “provides employees with opportunities for volition over what they do and how they go about it, encouraging employee initiative, and remaining open to new experiences.” (link)

In one of the defining studies on the subject, Moreau and Mageau conducted research on almost 600 health professionals in 2011 and found that “perceived autonomy support predicts health professionals’ work satisfaction and psychological health.

It’s not hard to see how an Innovation Management program would help manifest an autonomy supporting environment. By simply introducing this type of program, you’re moving away from a more controlling context towards one that has been proven to increase autonomous motivation and self-determination.

However, there’s far more to gain by making autonomy support a specific objective of your innovation management program and a variety of ways you might do this. For example, you might approach it very directly, by launching a campaign that solicits ideas for how to create a more autonomy supporting environment. Also, when designing the architecture of your program, it’s important pay close and careful attention to how and by whom the ideas are reviewed, improved and selected. Additionally, focus on your capacity to implement top ideas that involve the idea submitters and contributors in the manifestation of their solutions.

Perhaps the most important way in which innovation management can drive the creation of an autonomy supportive context is through the involvement of peers. The health professional study mentioned above found that the role of peers in creating autonomy support to be equal in importance to the contributions of managers. It follows then that you should invest in engagement strategies that not only produce ideas but also drive wide and supportive engagement through voting, commenting and other team-building and refinement methods.

Job Crafting

workplace well-beingIn addition to creating autonomy supporting workplaces, innovation management programs–when fully integrated into an organization–can help employees shape the very nature of their work. This process is referred to as “Job Crafting”.

In more precise terms: “Job crafting… is a method by which employees might create a better fit between themselves and the demands of their jobs.” Through this process “employees can essentially reshape their job such that it becomes more closely aligned with their motivations for work, as well as their individual skills and preferences…”  and in so doing, “cultivate a personal sense of efficacy for meeting [the] demands of their job.

While it’s a nice-sounding idea, “A growing body of research has found that job crafting enables individuals to strike an equilibrium between the demands of their jobs and the personal resources they have to manage them… which helps buffer against stress and increases engagement.” (link)

Here again, there are many ways in which you can go beyond the basic benefits that the implicit job-crafting nature of an innovation management program provide by using job crafting as a objective to develop your program. Similar to Autonomy Support, you can approach it directly by having department managers run campaigns to facilitate specific job crafting processes as described in this paper, or in the very well done Job Crafting Exercise put together by the brilliant folks at the University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organizations.

You might also consider simply integrating innovation management processes into more granular team operations with short ideation sprints rather than large organization or division-wide campaigns. With these smaller engagements, be sure to utilize functions where employees can help shape the parameters of their upcoming projects like IdeaScale’s “fund” function where employees can allocate tokens or hours to an idea they support.

Conclusion

While workplace well-being is a complex and somewhat nebulous objective, our hope is that the concepts of Autonomy Support and Job Crafting can can empower you to better define and articulate the qualitative impacts of implementing and nurturing an innovation management program. If you’re interested in diving deeper into what this might look like at your organization, shoot me an email at [email protected] or tweet @devinmc.

This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.

This post is by Devin McIntire, Senior Innovation Technology Adviser at IdeaScale.

 

3 Key Crowdsourcing & Innovation Management insights

crowdsourcing-innovation-management-insights

This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.

This post is by Devin Mcintire, Innovation Technology Adviser at IdeaScale.

This post is part two of a two-part series. Here is part one.

What are your current innovation-related objectives and how well prepared are you to achieve them?

For the past few months I’ve been diving deep into the field of innovation management, attempting to identify the keys to a successful open innovation program. What I’ve learned is that “Innovation Management” is neither rocket science nor voodoo there are simply a handful of key factors for success along with some hard work and diligence.

  1.     Innovation management is a practice, your success is determined by fitness
  2.     Crowdsourced innovation management is an inherently social process
  3.     Be deliberate about determining and communicating objectives

Fitness for success:

Launching an innovation management program implies that you believe your chosen audience already has valuable ideas but that you’re not necessarily nurturing or collecting them as well as you’d like to be. While the goal of your IM program may be disruptive innovation, the moment you start getting more good ideas than you had before, someone is going to be happy.

Starting small and specific gives you three key benefits:

  • One is to make sure you don’t end up buying a surfboard, a surf rack and lots of other gear before you even learn how to swim.
  • The second and biggest benefit, is the opportunity to refine your objectives and improve each step of the process by which you collect, evaluate and prepare ideas for implementation.
  • Finally, as you continue you begin to acquire the fitness it takes to run an innovation management program, you will also start to understand the direct relationship between your team’s efforts and the program’s output which is critical for optimizing and scaling the scope of your program.

IM is inherently a highly social endeavor:

There are many ways in which this is true and recognizing this reality from the get-go is key.

First, IM requires a number of different roles that will need to be managed for a successful program. Employees at various levels of capacity will need to be pro-active and responsive in a process that doesn’t always fit into existing routines. The manager of an IM program needs to make sure these employees have clear tasks, well-aligned incentives and appropriate support.

Personal leadership is critical to creating social proof, inspiration and creating accountability for the IM program itself. Employees aren’t going to set aside time for participating in something their boss doesn’t think is worthwhile.

Ideas themselves are personal. This means that effort must be made to make your target audience feel comfortable, purposeful and appreciated. Some aspects of this are less challenging, like making sure employees or customers can log in easily to share their idea when inspiration strikes. Others, like reaching your audience with the right medium and message or designing the right prompts and incentives can be a lot more difficult.

Your audience exists in a connected world where perspectives are shared rapidly. If they come to believe that their ideas have no pathway for implementation or that the IM program isn’t serious or successful, this will spread quickly and devastatingly. However, the same viral phenomenon is true for positive impressions. Meaningful success stories will spread quickly and can help quickly develop social capital which can be used to scale your subsequent efforts.

You can’t succeed if you don’t know what success looks like:

Determining how you will measure the success of your innovation programs is the number one factor in whether it will succeed. Any type of new program planning will require a strategic vision that deals less with the tactical and more with ROI.

Objectives should drive planning but with appropriate scale so that your impact can be more precisely defined. Innovation management programs (when done well) produce many (tangible and intangible) benefits, across many departments from operational improvements to growth ideas. Rather than trying to reduce or stuff them all into a cost-savings bucket, use this multitude of potential benefits to your advantage in the planning process by specifying multiple unique impact objectives and let your ROI be a powerful collection of these impacts.

 

Innovation Management: The Surprising Truth

innovation-truthThis blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.

This post is by Devin Mcintire, Innovation Technology Adviser at IdeaScale.

Innovation-speak worships at the altar of change, but it rarely asks who benefits, to what end?”  Russell & Vinsel ‘16

As the world of business strategy seems to be facing an exponential growth of jargon, formulas and proprietary methodologies, the term “innovation management” and associated terms “crowdsourcing” and “open innovation” should definitely give you pause. Most of these concepts we encounter in the business world should be taken with a grain of salt (or less), yet some are very much applicable and worth your valuable time and resources.

When it comes to sorting through them, organizations have to decide what approaches are legitimate and capable of producing meaningful results (not just snake-oil) and which approaches are appropriately aligned with the capacity the organization (hopefully, not rocket science).

So the question I wanted to get to the bottom of in my deep dive was: “innovation management:  rocket science or snake-oil?”

First, the easy answer: it’s definitely not snake oil. I am awed by the volume and diversity of success stories. Corporations, governments and social sector organizations have used innovation management to help catalyze new product development, dramatically lower costs of operations, improve workplace safety, increase employee engagement, customer loyalty and so much more.

The question now becomes: “will your organization successfully be able to implement an innovation management program?” But here again I have good news; “innovation management” does not require a new team of consultants and engineers, nor does it require the flashiest, most expensive tools available.

Rather, it’s an impressively intuitive approach to managing the reality that your employees or customers have valuable insight that can be collected, refined and implemented. The challenging nature of innovation management is that your success is highly dependent on your own initiative. In fact, your success with an innovation management program is already 99% in your control. Join me on my next blog for the 3 key insights I discovered that are key to a successful IM program.