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Driving Technology Innovation Using Crowdsourcing

Driving Technology Innovation Using CrowdsourcingStudies show that speed-to-market is positively correlated with new product success. It’s important to execute a time-based technology innovation strategy in an unfamiliar, emerging, or rapidly-evolving market.  Today’s technology market is nothing but uncertain, with quick changes happening every day. As a result, speed-to-market with your technology innovation could mean the difference between stellar results or lackluster product launches.

Technology Innovation Challenges 

Like many organizations, you likely face a variety of challenges with tehcnology innovation. Internally, you may face resistance to running your projects or teams in new ways. You may have people who are used to the “way it’s always been done,” or who want to choose teams and projects based on internal politics instead of merit. You may also face resistance to new technologies, or have leaders who don’t want to invest in additional upgrades and training.

Other challenges that you face include limitations due to staff size, budget, culture, uncertainty and skepticism. When it comes to developing new ideas, it’s difficult to know which ideas will have a large enough demand to be profitable until you’ve invested a significant amount of money on research and development.

Overcoming these challenges is the key to rapid technology innovation. By incorporating crowdsourcing into your innovation efforts, you can reduce common roadblocks,  iterate quickly, and perhaps be first-to-market.

Driving Technology Innovation Using Crowdsourcing 

The most common complaint amongst technology innovation project managers is the lack of resources.

Many organizations don’t have the staff available to substantially increase speed-to-market and don’t have the budget to hire more. Even if staffing isn’t a concern, there’s still the constant budget constraints that make the development of new ideas difficult for most organizations.

Beyond resources, organizations often face the challenge of predicting demand. There’s nothing more frustrating for a project team than spending time and money developing a new technology innovation, only to discover that no one is buying. Unfortunately, most organizations don’t find out that they’re headed down the wrong path until the R&D is already invested, the product has already hit the market, and it’s losing money.

Crowdsourcing changes the entire story for technology companies. With crowdsourcing, your organization can gain significant hours without hiring new employees. You can spread out the time required for testing and development over a much larger group of people, many of whom are volunteers. You can also test consumer demand for an innovation before you invest a large amount of money developing it.

From new product development to marketing ideas, you can also use crowdsourcing to solve specific technical problems like Citrix did with their innovation program. Citrix was able to move from managing new ideas via email to using crowdsourcing to gather ideas from thousands of employees.

How to Get Started

Using crowdsourcing in a technology organization requires a shift in thinking from traditional attitudes that generally exists in companies that have been around for years. If you can work on encouraging your staff, team, and leadership to change their mindset, you’ll be well on your way to helping your organization take advantage of the many benefits of crowdsourcing. Here are some of the best practices for technology crowdsourcing:

  1. Shift the Paradigm of “Must Be Invented Here.” Being the best isn’t just about who you have inside your organization, it’s about what you can access outside it as well.
  1. Remove Geographical Bias. Are you resistant to accepting ideas from other cultures? Having an open mindset will promote respect and admiration for other cultures and perspectives. This could be the breakthrough that you’ve been waiting for.
  1. Be Open to Revising Your Problem Statement. As your true needs become known, your problem statement may need to grow and adapt. Declutter your requirements and criteria to make sure that participants understand what you’re looking for.
  1. Involve the Marketing Department from the Start. Make sure your marketing department participates in the project from the very beginning. If there isn’t enough interest in your new offer, don’t be afraid to pull the plug and move on to a new idea.
  1. Use Competitions to Spark Interest and Creativity. People love to compete, they love to vote on others’ ideas, and they especially love to win. By using competitions, you can draw more participants than you would with a simple survey or focus group.
  1. Pick the Right Rewards. Be sure that the rewards for your contest or competition match what the crowd is interested in. Many crowd workers are looking for a financial reward, but they are also very interested in making a difference.  You can maximize participation by making it clear what the rewards are and matching them to the desires of the crowd.
  1. Follow Up After the Winner is Chosen. When you choose a winning idea and move into implementation, keep your fans and participants updated as the product goes into production. This will spur demand and help participants feel like their work made a difference.

When you follow these best practices, you’ll be setting your organization up for success with your crowdfunding innovation projects.  For a deeper dive into technology innovations using crowdsourcing, download our latest whitepaper.




How To Get Concrete With Innovation

A strong innovation strategy requires input from your entire team.

“I just can’t see it.” Often, with innovation, these can be the five most frustrating words when explaining an idea. The simple truth is that every one of us has a unique approach to understanding ideas: Some of us can create an image, wholly in our minds, right down to the details, while others have to write it out and still others need to see it in reality. So how can we create concrete innovation?

Start Big, And Drill Down

To begin with, any innovation should be presented with as global a view as possible. For example, if you’re coming up with a new feature for an app, you’d explain, in the broad strokes, what the feature you want to add would do. Think in terms of audience; how would you explain it to somebody who doesn’t work with your product or in your field every day? From there, start zooming in, explaining, say, how it would work, or why it would be a useful feature. If somebody asks for relevant data, see what you can find to back it up.

Use Metaphors

Another useful tool to make an innovation concrete is to tie it to something we use every day. Anybody who’s used a computer will notice that icons for the very abstract, mathematical processes that happen in a PC have real world analogues. If you open a file on a computer, you’ll see a file folder that opens, for example. Being able to tie an idea to these concrete, everyday examples will help bridge these gaps. Remember that it doesn’t have to be a perfect metaphor, just one that communicates the overall idea. And if you know your coworkers well enough, you can tie it to their personal interests or the work that they do to add clarity.

Innovation starts with one person, and spreads to the rest of us.

Put It On Paper

The best way to make an innovation concrete quickly is to start drawing or writing it out. Whiteboards are the classic way of laying out how an innovation works, but don’t neglect other tools around the office like collaborative editing documents, 3D visualization tools, and other items you have to depict an idea. Especially when working out the nitty-gritty details of an idea, having these handy both opens the door to further innovation and brings out the creativity of your team to solve challenges and fix issues before they become problems.

Build It

Another way to fully communicate an idea is, of course, to build it. It doesn’t have to be a fully working, complex model, but especially when you’re making something abstract tangible, breaking out the Legos, or Arduino and servo motors, can help people better grasp just what you want to do. It can even help your team refine their ideas, as building the model can highlight new places to take the idea, or even reconstruct it entirely.

Innovation, in the long run, needs to be more than just an abstract theory. Bringing it into the real world will help your team create, overcome challenges, and figure out solutions to complex issues more easily and intelligently. For a full overview of how an innovation strategy builds your business, join the IdeaScale community.

How Do Emerging Trends Impact Your Business

uber pittsburgh autonomous carEarlier this year, Uber announced that it would be testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh. While this is obviously not the first foray into self-driving vehicles—Google, Mercedes, and Tesla, among others, all have fairly public initiatives in this area—it IS the first instance of a self-driving car-sharing program. It sounds as though this is a test drive, so to speak, of the capabilities of such a vehicle, as well as an opportunity to address shortcomings in a safe way. All self-driving vehicles for Uber during this test phase are also equipped with a co-pilot, a human engineer who is intimately familiar with the structure and programming of the vehicle and is prepared to take over should there be any problems. In addition to these car-sharing tests, many auto makers themselves are adapting their business models to start planning for driverless vehicles. Experts estimate a fully independent self-driving vehicle is at least several years if not a decade away; still, it’s clear that initiatives such as this one from Uber are going to have a huge impact on the industry as a whole. After all, car-sharing already has a huge user base, with over 1.5 million people already utilizing such options in the Americas as of summer 2015.

But what does this mean to public transportation or even the car manufacturing industry as a whole?

Car Sharing: Uber, Car2Go and Beyond

Car sharing has already made a significant dent in the use of public transportation, previous car sharing services (like traditional taxis), and personal vehicles. As of 2014, San Francisco had seen a 65% drop in regular taxi use, directly coinciding with the wider implementation of Uber. A recent study out of University of California – Berkeley indicates that car sharing services, like Car2Go, are reducing pollution, reducing traffic, and helping to alleviate parking issues in cities. The study further showed that, with the increase of availability with car-sharing services, city-dwellers were more likely to sell vehicles just taking up space in their driveways and more likely to forego purchasing a new vehicle which would probably just do the same. Car manufacturers are going to have to consider changes like this when it comes to the vehicles they produce.

Personal Finance: Easier or Harder to Spend Recklessly?

In other fields, like personal finance, emerging trends are also having an enormous influence on traditional models. Applications allowing for mobile banking and for requesting and sending money are on their way to surpassing physical dollar bills, moving us ever closer to a cashless economy. (One expert even suggests that ATMs will soon be obsolete.) Venmo, Google Wallet, and Paypal are specifically designed for this purpose—even Snapchat and Facebook now have ways of easily sending and receiving money. A recent study suggests that mobile banking with real-time account updates can help people cut their spending by 16%. When you get an email notification any time you spend any money, it helps to bring home how much you might be spending. On the other hand, mobile technologies also make it much easier to spend your money at one touch, which may make it easier to spend recklessly.

The exact impact of these emerging trends on their already-established sectors has yet to be seen, but one thing is certain: the landscape will be changing, and we must all change with it or be left behind.

Five Innovations that Changed the World

Five Innovations that Changed the WorldNew ideas often spark additional ideas that improve upon the first.  Without the original, the innovations that follow may cease to exist. Innovations, both original and iterative, are essential. Here are five innovations that changed the world not only in their time, but continue to evolve as new technology becomes available.


Food is obviously one of the most key needs in human life, and as a result, it has been the focus of a lot of innovation.

The development of agriculture was a world-changing innovation. Where tribes once had to be nomadic in order to follow the herds of animals they hunted, they were now able to settle in an area and have food regularly. In addition, the work of agriculture was significantly different than the work of hunting, allowing more of the population to be involved.

The next set of innovations involved bringing crops from one part of the world into other parts. Oranges, corn, sugar, and other crops became available in entirely new areas of the world. Crop rotation, irrigation, and fertilizers allowed people to produce more from their land. Then, biotechnology emerged and allowed crops to produce more than ever and grow in areas they would normally struggle in. Larger fruits, drought tolerance, and resistance to pests are innovations that allow food to grow and feed more people across the globe. Agricultural innovations continue to change the landscape around the world.


Shelter from the elements is another basic need whether you’re dealing with sun, heat, rain, or snow. Innovations in housing have been rapid and consistent. Where humans once lived in caves, we quickly learned to use mud bricks, animal hides, and lumber to create housing. Longhouses were used to house multiple generations of a family, and huts housed smaller groups.

Over time, innovations in construction allowed for more durable housing, as well as better insulation against cold and heat. Innovations allowed for running water and electricity to be safely incorporated into the building process. Each one of these innovations seems mundane to us now, but they were truly revolutionary at the time.

Today, housing continues to be a source of many innovations. Tiny houses help people live in less space and reduce their environmental impact. Fire and mold-resistant materials help houses last longer and be a safer place to live. There are even 3-D printed homes, for a truly high-tech custom build that can withstand natural disasters.


From the very invention of the wheel, humans have looked for ways to move around more quickly and safely. The innovations surrounding cars have been incredible, and they aren’t stopping anytime soon.

The first cars were steam-powered and built in the 18th century. However, they couldn’t hold steam pressure well and required a large water supply. By the late 19th century, Karl Benz had created the internal combustion engine, which would revolutionize transportation forever.

In 1893, the first gasoline powered car appeared in the United States. The invention of mass production with a moving assembly line by Henry Ford revolutionized the automobile industry. More recently, car innovations have focused on technology, safety, and comfort. Everything from navigation systems to satellite radio to crush zones have made cars safer and more enjoyable to drive. The biggest new innovation is the focus on driverless cars, which has the possibility to revolutionize transportation once again.


Computer technology is arguably one of greatest world-changing innovations in history. In the early 19th century, Charles Babbage originated the idea of a programmable computer, which was based on mechanical principles rather than electrical. Over time, computers were refined and began to use vacuum tubes, transistors, and semiconductors. Semiconductors were developed based on experiments on the electrical properties of various materials. These experiments resulted in a theory of solid-state physics and drove the development of conductive materials.

As technology advanced, computers became smaller, more portable, and more affordable. Today, innovations have us wearing computers on our wrists, and using mobile telephones to access everything from the latest football score to a picture of the grand kids.


No discussion of revolutionary innovations would be complete without discussing the telephone. In the Ice Age, humans marked on bones to communicate.  As time progressed, communication was handled by hand-written letters which had to be delivered by courier. Then, telegraphs allowed for the sending of messages over long distances with much greater speed. However, both of these techniques were limited.

Alexander Graham Bell is well known for developing the first device that clearly produced a replication of the human voice over electrical lines in 1876. Telephones rapidly became indispensable to businesses, governments, and households. The first telephones were directly connected to each other, but was quickly replaced by switchboards, another incredible innovation.  Then, radio signals were used to transmit the human voice in the mid-20th century. Cellular phones were introduced in 1973.

The speed with which telephone technology has grown is a true testament to innovation that builds on existing ideas. We now carry phones that allow us to call anywhere we’d like over digital networks. These phones have computer-like capabilities, making them an all-in-one device that Mr. Bell would never have imagined.

Innovation isn’t a one and done event. As you can see from all of these examples, iteration and continuous improvement are key. But ideas don’t always come quickly. Gain additional inspiration by downloading our How to Get Creative infographic.



Crowd Collaboration: Giving Your Technology Company an Edge

Crowd collaboration may be right for you.

Innovation is often presented as a simple moment of inspiration from one person. But real innovation typically involves many people having many little bursts of creativity, from a thousand different sources, from innovation software to brainstorming sessions. And sometimes, you can harness the power of crowdsourcing for that creativity.

The Wisdom Of Crowds

Innovation is the lifeblood of tech success, and crowdsourcing can be a shockingly powerful for your technology company. The human mind remains the strongest, most flexible computer out there for problem solving, and harnessing the power of thousands of minds can generate incredible results. To give an example, Foldit, the online video game that presents protein folding as a puzzle for people to log in and experiment with, has found more than 50,000 players. Those players have, among other things, solved a question about AIDS, that had remained unknown for fifteen years. It took Foldit’s players less than two weeks to solve.

Despite how it’s presented, though, it’s worth remembering that crowd collaboration is a “brute force” way of innovating. Crowdsourcing works because it has power to spare, so you can throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. Some ideas will be brilliant, some ideas will be workable, and some ideas you’ll appreciate for your creativity instead of their utility. So how can your technology company use the wisdom of crowds to drive innovation?

Finding The Crowd

Many minds make easier work of innovation.

The first step is finding a crowd to source. Some tech companies enjoy millions of customers, others have a smaller base, but it’s all about reaching people invested in your products and industry. Start with your customers and your network and build your crowd from there. Consider what incentives you might want to offer in order to crowdsource, as sometimes you get a bigger crowd when you offer some motivation to participate.

Next, think about your approach and where you most need innovation. In some cases, you’ll already have a ready-made guide for this, in terms of what your customers are telling you. You’ll likely have emails requesting new features, demonstrating different uses of products and services you offer that you may not have considered, and other ideas that might touch off some innovation in your own team. In other cases, you might need to guide the innovation yourself, or you might have a specific category you want to explore.

Finally, you’ll need some form of infrastructure to sort through ideas and thoughts. As we said, this is an approach where any idea is valid and worth considering, and may spark an idea in your own team. But crowdsourcing is a noisy method and you’ll need to have a team, or at least one person, dedicated to rooting through that noise to find the best signals. Have a clear set of standards when looking at ideas so that your team knows what to consider and what to temporarily set aside.

Properly handled, crowdsourcing can open new vistas of creativity and new approaches to seemingly tired topics. With the right infrastructure and the right approach, crowdsourcing will bring the innovation your tech company needs. To get started, read about Crowdsourcing and Technology.

Why are there so many different innovation definitions?

innovation definitions

How do you foster an innovative workplace? Are you looking to develop products or programs? Are you interested in increasing quality of life, or are you interested in increasing efficiency and decreasing costs? These are all questions that you have to answer when considering engaging in innovation. There can be many different answers to these questions that can help guide your path to innovation; similarly, there are many different definitions of innovation because innovation is used in a multitude of ways by a diverse set of people and organizations.

For example, innovation for a nonprofit may be completely different than innovation in a for-profit company. A nonprofit company is going to take into greater consideration the population that they are attempting to serve, and how they can do that in the most cost-efficient way possible. Perhaps they’ll focus more on the crowdsourcing of ideas, and engage in volunteer focus groups because it’s especially important for nonprofits to be budget conscious. While cost efficiency may also be important when a for-profit company is innovating, these companies may have greater potential for starter capital in order to get a wider outreach and to pay for research and development of new products and programs.

Likewise, innovation for a public service or government program may be different than innovation for a corporation. The desired end result for the public service or government arena may focus on helping citizens feels as though their concerns are being heard and noticed. For a corporation, the aim may be creating methods and systems that help save money over time. While these aims may seem unrelated, both can help to increase the quality of life: in government, for the citizens, and in the corporation, for the employees.

Defining innovation and determining the goals for your particular organization are imperative. Thinking through the questions that you must ask yourself in order to reach the definition of innovation (what are we hoping to get out of this, who will be impacted, how do we create an environment that fosters innovation in the way that we desire, etc.) will create a much more robust, developed innovation program, which will increase your chance for success.

You can download the above innovation infographic, and find out more about defining innovation for your organization, here.

Innovate Fast in a Large Company

Innovate Fast in a Large Company Innovation can help keep your company from floundering. But, if you innovate fast, you can change the trajectory of your business and find your organization at the top of your industry. Speed enables your company to catch consumer trends as they emerge and keep your competitors off-balance. When done well, speedy innovation can keep costs down and help you avoid spending a large budget on a mediocre idea.

Assess Your Current Operations 

The first step in setting your organization up to innovate fast is to assess your current operations. Start with your research and development team. Can it be more efficient? Survey the team for ways to remove barriers and increase production. Employees who do the work often have the best ideas on how to improve operations. Be sure to listen closely and follow through on the changes you agree to. Otherwise, you’ll face increased skepticism and lower morale in the future.

Next, you’ll want to examine your company’s culture. Do you have a culture of innovation? Do the employees in your organization feel free to share ideas, and do those ideas gain attention and action? Have a system for employees to submit ideas, along with follow-up that supports the process. Again, those on the front lines of daily work often have the best ideas. You can’t dismiss someone’s input and expect to innovate fast and well in your company.

Go Lean 

The second step to getting ready to innovate fast is to go lean and remove obstacles. There are many obstacles in most organizations that get in the way of fast innovation.

Evaluate your change process and remove bureaucracy and red tape as much as possible. There’s nothing that stifles the effort to innovate fast more than having multiple hoops to jump through. Determine the key people who truly need to sign off on a change, and remove others from the process. Create systems so that ideas are regularly reviewed rather than being buried on a supervisor’s desk. Most of all, empower people to move forward on small changes without needing multiple levels of approval.

Consider innovating with small teams. While having every stakeholder represented is important, there are ways to incorporate stakeholder feedback while keeping teams small. A large team has a higher tendency to get bogged down in personal issues, accountability problems, and general busyness. Choose a small team if you want to innovate fast.

Ensure that the project leaders and team members have the right experience. Choose people who think outside the box, have experience with innovation, and are open to new ideas. Make sure that you involve key team members and stakeholders from the beginning to mitigate future roadblocks. This may include designers, programmers, and leadership. They should be part of the strategy from the beginning.

Go to Market 

The best lessons are learned in the market rather than in the office. Large companies often rely on in-building research and focus groups to determine market opportunities, but the best opportunities come when you get out of the building. This is especially true if you’re creating an entirely new market for your innovation. Get your team to move beyond talking and towards producing, selling, and supporting the new offering.

Don’t let the fact that your new product has limitations stop you from testing it on the market. The reality is that aside from standard safety, the law, and basic features, customers will tell you what is or isn’t important to them so you can address the correct limitations. Many times, the show-stopper in your mind won’t matter to consumers. Instead, you’ll learn that they’re concerned about something you never thought of. Don’t spend thousands of dollars on fixing problems that don’t matter to buyers. Instead, go to market first, and then choose to focus on the feedback you get from customers.

The best way to innovate fast in a large company is to learn from others who have done it. For example, TTI is a world-class leader in quality consumer, professional, and industrial products marketed to the home improvement, repair, and construction industries. To learn how they were able to collect 2,000 new ideas in only four months, click here.


Innovation for Social Change: Empowering Global Citizens & Building New Business

innovation for social change

In 2014, I attended a Global Innovation Competition gala in Nairobi, Kenya hosted by Making All Voices Count; a social activism and government accountability platform incubated by Ushahidi. I met a number of young innovators from all over Africa and Asia working to resolve social issues that were not being adequately addressed by their local governments. It was also an opportunity to learn about other innovations that were solving issues that were unique to the developing world. One great example is M-pesa, a mobile phone based money transfer service that has allowed millions of users to securely exchange money for goods and services without the need to have a bank account or credit card. There’s also the SMS/text based mobile product authentication (MPA) being used by drug manufacturers to combat counterfeit medications in several African countries. Another application allows farmers access to market price for their crops so they can avoid being ripped off by middlemen that usually offer prices significantly below the market price.

As access to mobile technology is growing even in areas with no electricity and running water, it’s opening the door to the democratization of innovations that promote social change. However the glaring absence of investment by the world’s largest companies on such innovations could be a missed opportunity for their longterm growth.

There are three reasons why businesses should consider investing on innovation for social change initiatives in the developing world and emerging markets:

  1. Millions of people are entering the middle class every day with the global middle class expected to grow from 2 billion today to almost 5 billion by 2030. Most businesses that focus heavily on North American and European markets will miss out on getting an early foothold in global regions where the spending power is expected to rise with the creation of this large middle class mainly in the developing world and emerging markets.
  2. Companies that do not innovate will eventually die but those that branch out could live for another day. 88% of the fortune 500 companies in the last half century no longer exist mainly because of stiff competition or the inability to innovate fast enough. Globalization and technology is helping more parts of the world emerge from poverty and the demand for products and services will only increase in those regions which gives businesses a better shot at surviving the competitive squeeze.
  3. Businesses that get into a new market early tend to build trust and brand loyalty than those that arrive late. Direct investment in various innovations promoting social change or indirect funding of other organizations dedicated to social change can be a great way for companies to make their mark in the developing world as a longterm strategy to build trust and loyalty.

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 Beniyam Kebede, Innovation Architect at IdeaScale.

Why Innovation Is A Workplace Benefit

Innovation brings out the best in every team member.

Innovation is often looked at as an organizational benefit. But there’s far more to innovation than just improving a company’s bottom line or pushing a product line further. Innovation is a powerful workplace benefit that bolsters your team, not just your products.

Innovation Inspires

To start with, innovation engages employees in ways that bring out the best in them. When workers are surveyed about what frustrates them in the workplace, what you often see, over and over, is a sense that they’re not using all parts of their intellect. If you stop and think about it, companies across the world have the best educated, most intelligent, and most informed workforce in human history. It’s a vast, and often untapped, reservoir of potential, and too often we only see a few facets of each gem that are the members of our teams.

Innovation strategy allows you to reach into that reservoir and engage the team on a deeper level. One of the most common responses a team member offers when they bring in a brilliant idea out of nowhere is that they’ve had this idea for years, but nobody ever bothered to ask them. So ask, and you might be surprised by the answer.

Innovation Contributes

One of the fundamental problems any company faces is that it can be difficult for some workers to see how they contribute to a company’s successes. It’s one thing if you work in research or design, but quite another if you work in accounting or HR. In some cases, of course, success has a tangible, visible benefit on the world, but in others, what the company does and its achievements are more abstract and difficult to find the rewards in.

Innovation opens up new vistas.

Innovation allows employees to invest more of themselves in the company. If an employee has an idea, the company implements it, and they see a tangible benefit, whether it’s less paperwork to get things done or a refinement that leads to enormous positive customer feedback, your team feels like it’s genuinely contributing something, not just collecting a paycheck.

Innovation Invests

That sense of connection is crucial in another respect. It can be tough for any company to keep members of the team who don’t feel invested in the company they work for, and who think the company doesn’t care about them or their ideas. Innovation strategy lets you address that directly, by letting your team invest in your company not just financially with a 401(k) or a stock plan, but with their ideas and emotions. If they have the ability to point to a feature, or a product, or an aspect of the company, and say “I came up with that, isn’t that cool?”, it gives them a richer, more rewarding connection to the work that they do and who they do it for.

Innovation does much more than just lead to a better bottom line. Innovating, and bringing your team on board for it, creates a better place to work and a team more invested in success. If you’re ready to bring out the best in your team, download Creative Rewards to Incentivize Engagement now.

Innovation Academy Week 4 – Assess and Implement

Innovation Academy Week 4 – Assess and Implement Welcome to the final week of the Innovation Academy! So far, you’ve learned how to come up with creative ideas, how to build a highly effective team, and how to refine your top ideas and turn them into robust proposals.

This week, you’ll discover the final stage in an innovation project: assessing and implementing. You need to assess your final ideas, make a decision, and then implement the winning solution.

Assess Your Final Ideas 

While it’s great to have tons of innovative ideas, you’ll likely have budget and staff restrictions that require you to narrow your focus and prioritize. As a result, you’ll want to score your ideas based on the following aspects:

  • Value Factors. You’ll want to start off by defining the value factors that matter most in your organization. Then, determine which of your new ideas bring the most value for both your company and your customers based on those criteria. You can use a point system to assign value, and rank the ideas based on resulting scores.
  • Cost Factors. While it would be great to do absolutely everything, your budget probably doesn’t allow that. So, you’ll need to rank your top ideas based on cost. However, don’t make the mistake of only basing it on the investment required. Be sure to include the return on investment as well.
  • Constraint Factors. Finally, you may have other constraints that affect your ability to implement ideas. Some constraints include team member availability, physical location factors, and the need to pilot the idea on a smaller scale before a large rollout. Define all of the constraint factors you face and then rank the ideas accordingly.

Once you assign points in each of these areas, you can total the scores and prioritize the ideas. Then, you’ll know which one or two ideas you can move forward and implement.

Implement Your Ideas 

Surprisingly, implementation is the #1 place that organizations fail. Many companies go through an innovation program, collect ideas, and evaluate and rank them. Then they let the ideas sit and collect dust. This demoralizes your employees and makes future innovation projects less credible.

The two biggest pieces of the implementation stage are engaging the creator of the idea and publicizing the wins that come from executing the new idea. The Western Australia Police found that when the idea creator was involved in enacting the idea, it reinforced the integrity of the process and sped adoption across the agency. In addition, publicizing the many wins the system has created drives additional confidence in the improvement process and encourages more front-line members to suggest innovative ideas.

Don’t be one of the many organizations that fall short in implementation. Once you’ve collected great ideas, rated and ranked them, and received approval, be sure to follow through and execute. It’s the only way to realize the benefits of innovation for your company.

Thank you for completing the Innovation Academy! Now it’s time to implement your plan. If you follow the steps and enact these processes in your organization, you’ll see results that move the needle. For additional inspiration, take a look at case studies specific to your industry.