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Author Archives: Josh Folk

Where to Get New Ideas… How About the Romanian Food Festival?

where to get new ideasOur family had so much fun at the Smithsonian’s Military Invention Day three weeks ago, we decided to hit the town again and join up with fellow IdeaScale colleague, Matt Paulson, and his family and head to Potomac, MD for the Romanian Food Festival.

Matt spent two years in Romania with the Peace Corps. It’s where he met his wife Sara (also a Peace Corps Volunteer), and he still has fond memories of and relationships from what became his second home. Therefore, this Romanian Festival was a trip down memory lane for Matt and his family. The Romanian Food Festival offered traditional food and drinks, live music and folk dance performances, among with other fun activities. I tried mititei, which is traditional summertime barbecue fare, along with sarmale and mamaliga, two traditional Romanian foods served at almost all special occasions. Of course we had to try the palincatraditional plum brandy in Romania (although my wife wasn’t a fan!)

A highlight for me was getting to finally hear Matt converse in Romanian. It’s great to experience the diversity of your colleagues outside of the work environment. I highly recommend it, because it can be really inspiring. 

But this entire process reminded me of the importance of diversity in ideation. A lot of innovators wonder where to get new ideas, but a whole new body of research is emerging about how organizations with higher levels of diversity report higher returns, new revenue growth, and more. We know there’s a relationship diversity and innovation and the Romanian Food Festival reminded how much I have to learn from people around me who can take ideas that I have and make them new or more powerful. That’s what happens in IdeaScale when I get to collaborate with my colleagues, but it’s also what our customers experience when they do this work at scale and invite in even more voices.

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 Josh Folk, VP of Global Sales at IdeaScale

Military Invention Day

Military Invention DayTwo weeks ago, my wife and I looked at the weekend weather report – more rain.  If you live in the Washington, D.C. area, then you’ve experienced record breaking rainfall recently. On top of that, our nine month old is like a bull in a China shop right now. So in spite of the weather, staying inside our house all day is not an option. But where would we go to stretch our legs? 

Fortunately, the D.C. area is full of amazing museums which can serve as a fun family indoor activity. And It just so happened, The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation was having a special event last Saturday – Military Invention Day – showcasing examples of today’s leading-edge military inventions. We got to meet scientists, engineers, and even some IdeaScale customers…

We got to meet Petty Officer First Class Kevin Spratt of the US Coast Guard who was showcasing his invention, “The Hammer Hook.” His idea was proposed in IdeaScale to weld a hook to the head of a maul, combining two tools frequently used on a buoy deck. The Hammer Hook reduces clutter on the deck and makes it easier for crewmembers to switch between tools. This type of innovation is a great example of process innovation which looks for new efficiencies that will save time, money, or other resources. 

Other event highlights included the Army’s demonstrations of new Augmented Reality concepts and the Evolution of Night Vision Technology which have some pretty amazing military applications. One of the more fun family-friendly demonstrations came from the Naval Research Laboratory – showing how to generate Energy from Seawater.

According to the event’s website, the daylong festival celebrates the crucial role of invention for the United States, explores the changing relationship between military research and commerce, and gives visitors an opportunity to envision how advances in military technology will impact their daily lives in the future.

Big thanks to the Lemelson Center for putting on such a wonderful event and congratulations to all those representing the innovation and creativity of our armed forces.

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 Josh Folk, VP of Global Sales at IdeaScale

Top 15 Reasons to Attend Open Nation

Attend Open NationHave you booked your flight yet?  It’s that time of the year, my friends, to solidify plans to come to Open Nation – IdeaScale’s annual customer summit.

Open Nation is being held on November 2-3 this year in Berkeley, CA. It’s a place for you to connect with other IdeaScale customers and hear from other innovation management practitioners and take back best practices to your innovation communities. 

But what really goes down at Open Nation?

Here are my Top 15 Reasons for Attending:

  1. Build a Community of Practice – I like to call it therapy for innovation professionals.
  2. Meet Other Customers Like Yourself – Find out if you’re facing the same challenges and benchmark your program.
  3. Learn From Customers – Amplify your program by borrowing nuggets of wisdom from others!
  4. Visit the Land of Excellent Tacos – Who’s hungry?
  5. Mix it up With Other Successful Innovators – From the most recognizable brands to the just-getting-started success stories. This is a great chance to network and make connections.
  6. Validation – Learn where your program is excelling and how to showcase its success
  7. Inspiration – Need to freshen things up? Want some new ideas? You’re in the club now. Act as if.
  8. Get a Preview of What’s Coming Next at IdeaScale – Learn about new features and how they can impact your program.
  9. Tour Silicon Valley and San Francisco – Take advantage of the Open Nation innovation tours or do your own thing!
  10. It’s Personal – I don’t know how, but IdeaScale makes an effort to actually know and recognize every attendee name. #scarybutcool
  11. The Emcee – When was the last time you attended an event where the Emcee kicked things off by polling the audience for what show they were binge watching? Yup. Never. It’s bound to be entertaining.
  12. The Band – Why not a band during intermissions?!
  13. Get Advice and Give Advice – Talk about pressing issues, discuss your plans, wish lists, and ideas with your account manager.  And talk to our product team in order to Influence IdeaScale’s product roadmap (hint: success increases with more drinks).
  14. The Rickshaw Rides – Need a ride to and from? Just flag the IdeaScale rickshaw down. If you’re lucky, Jessica Day will be driving!
  15. What happens at Open Nation stays at Open Nation – What Open Nation? I didn’t say Open Nation. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Will I see you there? Register today.

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 Josh Folk, VP of Global Sales at IdeaScale

Environmental, Social, and Governance Strategy in the Workplace

Environmental, Social, and Governance StrategyAs if corporate managers didn’t have enough to worry about, they must now  consider a new business challenge: investors are increasingly looking towards non-financial data to determine your company’s risk.

Environmental, social and governance strategy (ESG) refers to the three central factors in measuring the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment in a company or business. The overall market for ESG investments has swelled to $8.7 trillion in U.S. assets under management last year, up 33% since 2014, according to the U.S. SIF Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.

In the past, a small class of investors would utilize ESG data through a screening process, mainly to filter out certain investments from an ethical perspective (tobacco, gambling, human rights violations, etc).

But today, a growing number of institutional (think: pension funds) and activist investors are linking ESG data with financial performance to make investment decisions. “This is a way of reducing risk,” Clifton S. Robbins, CEO of Blue Harbour Group LP said in an interview. “If we can add one more lens to look through that helps us determine risk, that’s fantastic.”

This shift in how investors are determining your company’s investment risk is being met with new analytical tools to make access to ESG data easier than ever before. Just this week, the Wall Street Journal announced State Street Corp.’s new tool to gauge environmental, and other social risks. “We have the root data, everything about the company itself,” said Lou Maiuri, head of State Street’s analytics and markets businesses. “We sit on 12% to 15% of the world’s assets.”

And it’s not just big investors – the little ones are paying attention as well. The relative proportion socially responsible investments made by individuals in Canada, Europe and the United States increased from 13% in 2014 to 26% at the start of 2016, according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance’s newly released Investment Review.

As a manager, how are you thinking about these issues? Is this a challenge for you? I’d love to hear from you for a future blog post. In exchange, I will send a copy of Thomas Friedman’s new book, “Thank You for Being Late” to the first five people who respond.

In the meantime, here are three things you can do today to get a jump start:

    1. Ask your employees what they care about. This is one of the first steps to developing a purpose-driven workplace. Focusing on purpose rather than profits builds business confidence and drives investment. Additionally, 73% of employees who say they work for a purpose-driven company are engaged, whereas only 23% of employees are engaged at companies that are not purpose driven.
    2. Maintain an ongoing dialogue with employees on social issues. The old adage of telling employees to leave personal issues at home is over. Four out of 10 working Americans say they take care of personal or family needs during work and about a quarter report that they regularly bring work home (26%), work during vacations (25%) and allow work to interrupt time with family and friends (25%). These were among the findings of a survey by APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence.
    3. Ask the public for solutions to your sustainability challenges. Many leaders are afraid to openly discuss their company’s negative impact on the environment at the risk of gaining bad publicity. IdeaBuzz is a turn-key solution for hosting a low profile contest to an existing crowd of problem solvers to discover new solutions. Additionally, sustainability ideation has been proven to increase overall innovation performance and competitive advantage.

Today’s corporate managers must now consider both financial and non-financial (ESG) factors when evaluating company performance and setting strategic goals. “When we call a CEO we are going to be asking about this,” Mr. Robbins said. “We’re going to hold you accountable to what we’ve talked about.”

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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 Josh Folk, VP of Global Sales at IdeaScale

Employee Innovation: The Secret to Making Your Boss Love Your Idea

employee innovation

Does your boss see you as someone who is influential? If not, then you might want to reconsider your chances at promotion. The more you are known and respected by people above you, the better off you are from a career standpoint,” says Priscilla Claman, the president of Career Strategies, a Boston-based consulting firm.

One problem, according to Harvard Business Review, is most employees don’t really know what their boss wants from them. The constant theme? Good ideas.

Research claims that the normal person has up to 50,000 ideas in their head per day, so there is no shortage of creativity. However, the ideas you may think are your best may not be the same ones your boss values. And because of this, you probably aren’t pitching your innovative concepts in the right way.

Here’s the secret: Tap into Silicon Valley.

My friends at Enterprise Development Group created the CO-STAR concept to capture the innovation techniques perfected in Silicon Valley for turning your brilliant ideas into powerful value propositions.

Here’s how it works. Next time you have a great idea to pitch to your boss, spend 20 minutes and work through this beforehand:

C – Customer: Who is the customer? What is the unmet need?

If ideas are not customer-centric, they are likely to fall flat. Think through your customer profile and pitch ideas that will solve a crucial pain point for them.

O – Opportunity: What extra opportunities exist outside the nominated customer group?

This involves an intimate understanding of your market. Beyond influencing your customer, how does your idea support or strengthen the larger goals of your company?

S – Solution: What is your idea for creating value for your customer?

Here is where you describe your idea in its most tangible form. This could be as advanced as an actual prototype or as simple as detailed description of your solution. In either case, be certain to anticipate questions that may arise from your colleagues around risks and challenges to implementing your idea.

T – Team: What knowledge, skills, and contacts do you need to deliver your idea?

Consider your current team’s range of skills and knowledge. Is your idea feasible given the resources to which you have access? If not, be creative in thinking about ways to leverage partnerships and other industry leaders beyond your immediate team.

A – Advantage: What is your competitive advantage? What do you offer that no one else is offering?

Your competition matters. No matter how creative your idea, be sure to study what competitors are already doing in your field and consider which resources they have that may put them at an advantage. In your analysis, also identify what gives your company an edge and choose solutions that fully leverage your team’s unique strengths.

R – Result: What is the return on investment? What are the quantitative and qualitative results that the solution will achieve?

Be prepared to demonstrate how your idea will positively add to your company’s bottom line — whether that be in cost-savings, increased revenue, or heightened customer loyalty.

Following this process will allow you identify your most relevant ideas that demonstrate your ingenuity. It is one thing to slap down a fresh idea in a meeting and cross your fingers that it makes it through the wringer. It is immeasurably more valuable to come to the table with a well-rounded solution that considers your customer, team, and competition — all while adding long term value to your company. Implementing the CO-STAR method will ensure you always do the latter.

Start building influence today with your boss by using CO-STAR to pitch great ideas and speak their language. Then relax; that next promotion is yours!

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 Josh Folk, VP of Global Sales at IdeaScale.