IDEASCALE BLOG

Insights and sneak peeks into innovation and IdeaScale.

Non-Profit Crowdsourcing: Going Beyond Crowdfunding

Non-Profit Crowdsourcing: Going Beyond CrowdfundingWhen you think about using crowdsourcing for your non-profit, what do you think of? If you’re like many program managers and directors, you think about fundraising. While crowdfunding – the money side of crowdsourcing – can certainly be effective, it’s important to expand your vision. Non-profit crowdsourcing goes well beyond crowdfunding.

Non-profit volunteers and your surrounding community are often passionate about the mission and purpose of your organization. They’ll often contribute to and share crowdsourcing activities with friends and family. This can help expand the reach of your non-profit and gain you additional supporters – both financially and otherwise.

Types of Non-Profit Crowdsourcing

When thinking about how the community and the larger crowd can benefit your organization, it’s important to be aware of the variety of crowdsourcing projects. Here are five specific types of non-profit crowdsourcing that can help:

  • Pooling collective knowledge to help solve problems. Do you wonder how to maximize space in your building but don’t have resources to hire a planner or architect? There are many in your community who would volunteer ideas.
  • Micro-volunteering. Some people in your area would love to volunteer but are afraid of the time commitment. By creating small tasks that take only a few minutes, you can harness these volunteers and benefit your organization.
  • Crowd Creation. If you need a new idea for outreach or impact, your community can help you come up with ideas.
  • Crowd Voting. Have some options but can’t decide? Put it to a public vote. This will also help you get support and funding for the chosen project since you’ve built awareness up front.
  • Crowdfunding. A traditional form of non-profit crowdsourcing, it involves raising money by asking donors to contribute to a single online site. This is often done for a focused project or initiative, and may involve bonuses for the donors.

 

The Impact of Using Non-Profit Crowdsourcing 

As you can see, non-profit crowdsourcing goes far beyond funding. In fact, using crowdsourcing can help your organization gain a variety of benefits far beyond money. When you use the other four types of non-profit crowdsourcing, you can gain:

  • Trust and Loyalty. People feel a bond to projects they contribute to, and that can help your organization succeed long-term. You also build trust when you ask for community input beyond finances.
  • Reach and Engagement. Because non-financial crowdsourcing goes beyond asking for money, it will be more widely shared and may gain much more participation than other initiatives. Because your mission and purpose are being shared with so many people, you’ll gain new supporters.
  • Brand Awareness. Are you tired of people not knowing what your organization is or what it stands for? Crowdsourcing will help get your name out to the public in new ways.
  • Volunteerism. People love to give back. In fact, altruism is one of the core reasons crowd workers participate in crowdsourcing. Beyond a specific project, crowdsourcing can also help you gain more long-term volunteers.
  • Donations. Of course, the more people who know your organization, trust you, and are loyal to you, the more likely they are to donate. A non-financial crowdsourcing program can result in financial benefits down the line.

Interested in more? We have specific case studies of how other non-profits are using IdeaScale for non-profit crowdsourcing. Learn more by looking at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and Making All Voices Count. You can also download our free Crowdsourcing for Non-profits e-book.

5 Reasons Why IdeaScale Didn’t Build a Mobile App

ideascale mobile app

There is no denying that mobile is here to stay. Its meteoric growth and near endless possibilities are truly stunning. People spend a lot of time on their phones, doing everything from playing Pokemon Go to paying bills. People are productive, entertained, and connected.

Despite this popularity, the decision to build a mobile app is actually a very complicated and nuanced decision. Every team should carefully examine why a mobile app is necessary, and think about why a user would want to give up valuable space on their home screens.

We labored over this decision for quite some time, even going so far as even building a beta version as a prototype. In the end, we decided against building a mobile app. Here’s why:

1. Less IT Friendly

When it comes to mobile apps, they can be surprisingly non-friendly to corporate IT networks. For starters, most mobile phones are being used at work in a BYOD model, so they aren’t directly controlled by IT. In addition, phones inherently have two network interfaces: WiFi and an LTE/4G modem. Both of these things make it difficult to setup and configure mobile apps to work smoothly in an IT environment. Obviously technologies like SSO/SAML can give our customers the option to authenticate with their network, but this adds a layer of complexity to the app as it generally requires that the user provide additional information about their company network/domain in order to login.

2. Feature Slowdown

When you add any new platform to an existing app, you immediately have a new problem on your hands: you have to maintain complete feature parity across all platforms. Even if you decide to only build a subset of functionality in a mobile version, the complete set of features in the application need to be considered and tested. For many software teams, this level of work is commonly underestimated. We discovered that as we implemented new features for our web app, the pace of release was slowed down as we tried to implement these same functions for our iOS and Android versions.

3. The Bar is Set High

Apple is constantly setting the design standard for mobile – even going so far as publishing design standards (Human Interface Guidelines) to help developers build wonderful mobile apps. And rightly so: the smaller real estate of a mobile screen warrants an ever more vigilant attention to detail.

Sadly, there is a dearth of high quality enterprise mobile apps in both the Android and iOS app stores (all the apps in our space are complete garbage). To build a good mobile app, the bar needs to be very high. For IdeaScale, we felt that we couldn’t devote the attention to detail that we wanted to give to the mobile app without stealing away considerable resources from our existing UI team (and subsequent mobile responsive app).

4. Mobile First Doesn’t Mean Mobile App

Mobile phones, tablets, netbooks, etc have caused an explosion in the variety of screen sizes. And if you have a web app, you cannot ignore these devices – it must look great on all screen sizes. Thankfully, HTML5 and CSS3 gave us responsive design which allows a web app to look great on any screen size – provided you design for it from the beginning. Which means that you can still use IdeaScale on any mobile device.

The core IdeaScale web app has been mobile web responsive for years now, and usage of these smaller screen sizes has continued to grow. Our customers love that our web app “just works” on any device and any screen size. So when we started building our mobile app, we kept asking ourselves: “Can we build something better than our web app? Will it be more convenient to use?” The answer continued to be no. Once we decided not to, it was incredibly freeing – we could focus entirely on our responsive web app.

5. When Designing a Mobile App, Consider Your Use Case

Hard as it is to believe, we’re still not doing everything on our phones. When it comes to innovation management, most of the ongoing labor of moderating ideas, refining them and reviewing them does not occur while you’re on the go, but while you’re at your laptop with a suite of other resources. We’ve learned this from a wealth of customer  interviews and analytics research. Not every task is a mobile-first task and we decided to put our development strength where our customers were asking for it. After all, if the odd innovator wanted to perform idea reviews while on their commute or an employee wanted to share an idea on the go, they still could with our mobile responsive design.

As I said before, for some startups the decision to build a mobile app can be very complicated. These are just a few of the reasons why we chose not to.

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 Rob Hoehn, Co-founder/CEO at IdeaScale.

5 Common Innovation Roadblocks – And How to Get Around Them

Once upon a time, your company was innovative. In fact, you were the first to come out with the ultra-super-improved widgets that were all the rage … back in 2002. What happened? Somewhere, you veered off course. You handed in your innovative driver’s gloves for a comfy leather seat and smooth, luxury-class suspension. The company grew, and outgrew its ability (incentive?) to innovate.

How can you kick down the roadblocks to innovation management, and reclaim that dangerously speedy sportster known as innovation? Here are the most common obstacles, and some tips for getting around them.
1. We Just Don’t Have Any More Great Ideas

Drivers, start your engines. It’s time to innovate.

All out of fuel when it comes to ideation? There are several ways around that. You can use a pit stop to rotate some old, tired tires out of the innovation team and put some fresh rubber in there. Alternately, you can open up innovation company-wide or crowdsource, instead of locking it into a single, stale team. Give your innovators inspiration. Give them time to free think. The best ideas never come in the war room when all your teammates are waiting. Those tend to happen in the shower, in the car, or while you’re on your morning jog.

2. We Just Don’t Have a Solid Strategy for Innovation Management

Well, what are you waiting for? An innovation strategy isn’t rocket science. It should cover the basic who, what, and how of the innovation process. Who will be responsible for innovation (a specific team or all employees)? What will their goal be (build the best ultra-super-improved widget ever)? How will they go about meeting that goal (via innovation management software)?

3. We Just Don’t Have the Resources to be Innovative

Time, people power, innovation software, a development process … these are a few of the resources it takes to be innovative. There really is no way around these barriers except to allot and dedicate the resources necessary, and maintain innovation as a priority within the company. There are two ways to handle innovation management: innovate or be prepared to be out-innovated by the competition.

4. The Bureaucracy Around Here Makes It Impossible to Innovate

Has the stagnation of bureaucracy stifled your company’s ability to innovate? Two words: Change management.

Ah, this is where the rubber meets the road. Bureaucracy is to innovation what a strip of nails is to your high-performance tires. Changing the corporate culture is no trivial task. It requires smart and consistent change management. Change has to come from the top down, and has to be managed, just as your innovation must be managed. Not all companies are capable, but to be innovative, you must — and to be successful over the long run, you must innovate.

5. There Just Isn’t Room in the Budget for Innovation

Does your company have a budget for marketing? Sales? Customer service? Of course. Having an innovation management budget is just as essential. Without it, there will be no new products to market, nothing worth selling, and no customers to serve.

Do you need more incentive, advice, and insight into how to put your company back on the road to innovation success? We can help. Join the IdeaScale community today!

Who Exactly are the Crowd Workers?

Who Exactly are the Crowd Workers?Crowdsourcing is a method that allows organizations to take advantage of self-selected volunteers to accomplish tasks, gather information, or gain new ideas. The end result is not just the work and insight of one person, but of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands.

However, many project managers wonder exactly who these crowd workers are. Because they choose to participate, rather than being chosen by the organization, it’s easy to wonder if crowd workers are truly as qualified to weigh in on the future of your organization. The truth is that crowd workers are far more qualified than you may think.

Who Are Crowd Workers? 

Many project managers who are considering crowdsourcing assume that employed professionals don’t have time to participate in crowdsourcing projects. That assumption couldn’t be farther from the truth. Consider these statistics about crowd workers:

  • Most crowd workers – about 66% – are female.
  • Crowd workers are mostly millennials. Over 50% report a birthdate after 1975. When those born from 1970 onward are included, the percentage jumps to 70%. This can be a great asset when you’re looking to focus on gaining millennial customers.
  • Crowd workers are very skilled and generally college educated. More than 50% hold a bachelor’s degree and more than 20% hold a master’s degree. This means the crowd is as educated, if not more so than your employees!
  • Crowd workers live in smaller households. 35% are single with no children, and 55% live in a household of only 1 or 2 people. However, 30% of crowd workers report being married with children.
  • Most crowd workers are employed. This means that crowdsourcing projects are generally a hobby or a second source of income. In fact, 20% earn between $25,000 – $40,000 a year, another 20% earn $40,500 – $60,000, and another 20% earn between $60,000 – $100,000. This can mean that money is a secondary motivator, and that other rewards are more important.

What Motivates the Crowd? 

If most crowd workers already have a job, why exactly do they participate in crowdsourcing projects? Studies find that the most frequently mentioned motives of crowd workers are:

  • Money. Many crowd workers see crowdsourcing projects as a way to use their talents and skills to earn extra money outside their primary job, without the pressure of obligation or regular hours.
  • Skill Improvement. Many times our favorite or most important skills aren’t used daily in our jobs. As a result, crowd workers seek out crowdsourcing projects as a way to learn and hone skills they don’t usually use in daily life.
  • Fun. Many people are simply passionate about what they do. Programmers love to program. Designers love to design. They see crowdsourcing as a great way to do what they enjoy.
  • Altruism. People love to feel that they are giving back. Crowdsourcing projects allow people to contribute to solving important problems and make a difference on a larger scale.
  • Reputation. Crowd workers often love the accolades, awards, and recognition they receive for winning a crowdsourcing contest or submitting a key idea. Gaining recognition is at times much more important to crowd workers than a monetary reward.

Overall, only 15% of crowd workers use crowdsourcing projects as a primary form of income. Most crowd workers are interested in side income, fun, learning, giving back, and reputation.

You may be surprised with what you’ve just read about crowd workers, and it should help boost your confidence in the usefulness of crowdsourcing as a resource. Crowd workers are generally educated, employed, and skillful. They use crowdsourcing to hone their skills, earn extra money, have fun, give back, and gain attention and recognition. As a result, they are sometimes easier to motivate and engage than your own employees.

To learn more about how you can get started with crowdsourcing in your organization, download the Crowdsourcing: An Introduction e-book today!

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How to Foster a Culture of Innovation at Your Company

Your business is in it to win it. Winning consistently over decades takes constant work on your innovation strategy, because things change. When people gave up their buggies for cars, horseshoe salesmen had to embrace tires and spark plugs or starve. When news migrated from print to online outlets, newspaper journalists had to immigrate along with it or hang up their credentials. Whatever your business is doing right now, it’s almost certain that times and technologies will change, and you’ll be doing something different one day — or be in the unsavory business of going out of business.

By becoming and remaining innovative, your company can blaze the way. You can literally steer the market in new directions. You won’t be the one caught midstream with 800 cases of horseshoes nobody wants; you’ll be the first one in town to open a gas station and tire repair shop. That’s what innovation can do. So, how do you do innovation?

Innovation Isn’t Just a Team Effort

When the tides of the time and technology change, will your company be left in the sand, or leading the way to the vast sea that lies waiting to be discovered?

Too often, an ‘innovation team’ is established. They’re the guys and gals who innovate, while everybody else produces horseshoes. Companies that are resoundingly successful at innovation strategy don’t relegate their innovation tasks to a single group of people in the basement, just behind the boiler room and beside the mop closet.

Innovation is a top-down, bottom-up, side-to-side way of life. These companies open up the lines of communication and not just allow, but encourage, all employees to contribute great ideas. Some will be crazy. Some outright ludicrous. Some will be brilliant. A few will look ludicrous, but upon further examination, reveal genius.

Innovative companies do need to provide workers with innovation software. Many will be too shy to come to their manager or open up in a meeting with what might seem like a preposterous idea. This type of software encourages submissions without putting anyone in the spotlight. Those passed by can be quietly, discreetly dismissed. Promising ideas can be pushed forward for further development.

 

Innovation Requires Free Time & Inspiration

An innovation strategy does not thrive in a workplace that’s pedal to the metal from 7AM to 7PM. Without free time, there is no free thinking, and without free thinking, there is no innovation. Study the companies that are powerful innovators, like the tech companies in Silicon Valley. Most provide workers with free time during the day, with which they can create and brainstorm, allowing thoughts to flourish. They also provide leisure areas, indoor and outdoor recreation spaces, games, and even reading material to spark creative thought and encourage ideation.

 

Consider Holding Contests as Part to Create a Culture of Innovation

Come on in, innovation. We’ve been expecting you.

Many companies also have lots of success with innovation contests. These contests can be limited to a day or a few days, or can be ongoing. Others make up rewards systems for successful innovators, such as handing out wooden nickels or some other trivial ‘award’, but these rewards often become highly valued across the organization. If you’re having trouble getting the masses on board with your cross-company innovation, contests can liven things up considerably.

 

Accept Risks, Reward Successes

Ah, the flipside of the innovation strategy: failure. Yes, whether your innovation is done by a carefully-selected, well-groomed group of five or by your entire team, there will be failures. Embrace them. All failures have potential, even if it is only to learn some valuable lessons for the next round of innovation about what not to do. Reward effort, not just innovations that make it to market (though you should definitely offer praise for those, too).

Which would workers rather have: a company that is okay with an occasional screw up or bosses that will punish anything short of total success? Some companies even embrace their failures with a Wall of Shame or other memorial, which serves to highlight the lessons learned, show good humor about past mistakes, and helps the entire organization be willing to offer up those radical off-the-wall ideas that just may hold some promise. Did anyone expect the entire developed world to be chasing fictional cartoon characters around town with their smartphones all summer? We didn’t either. That’s innovation for you!

Want more great tips and insight into creating a culture of innovation and keeping your innovation strategy on point? Join an IdeaScale community today!

How to Create an Innovation Communication Plan

How to Create an Innovation Communication Plan Smart businesses realize how vital innovation is – and as a project manager, you are in place to make those new ideas happen. However, in the ideation and implementation of new initiatives and products, you can’t overlook the importance of an innovation communication plan. Great communication can be the difference between massive success and catastrophic failure – no matter how great the new idea is to begin with.

The Importance of an Innovation Communication Plan 

Remember when you were a kid and you played the game Telephone? One person would whisper a message to someone else, and it would get passed down the line, with each child whispering what they heard to the next one. Inevitably, by the end, the message wouldn’t resemble what was originally said.

Now, that’s fun for laughs as a kid, but as an adult, in business, that kind of miscommunication can cost millions of dollars. It can cause failure in your project. It can take a great, innovative new idea or product and completely destroy it.

If you’re going to innovate effectively, you can’t just come up with big ideas. You must communicate them clearly – among your team during development, and to others during implementation. The greatest inventors, diplomats, and activists in history all had one thing in common – the ability to clearly communicate their ideas.

It’s amazing that communication has that much power. But, you can harness it by creating a robust innovation communication plan for use throughout your innovation process. A plan that will make your project even more successful and increase adoption speed.

How to Create an Innovation Communication Plan 

An innovation communication plan has several key parts. It describes how your organization communicates throughout the entire innovation process. Many of these will be consistent with the various stages of innovation, but you may need to adjust the audience or delivery in some stages.

When creating your innovation communication plan, be sure to include:

  • Goals. Know the goals and objectives for communications at every stage of the innovation process.
  • Audience Segment. Be aware of who you’re speaking to at every stage. Team members, stakeholders, and adopters all need different information.
  • Delivery Method. Think carefully about what type of communication channel is best for each type of information. If something needs to be referenced in the future, written communication such as email is best. If emotion, passion, or buy-in is needed, a face-to-face meeting is likely the top choice.
  • Frequency. How often do you need to communicate? This is determined by the work style of your team, how often your stakeholders need updates, and how much information employees need to maintain engagement and enthusiasm.
  • Owner. Who’s responsible for each type of communication? Assigning an owner to each piece of the communication plan helps ensure accountability and follow through.

Great ideas aren’t great on their own. They are only great when they are developed, shared, and implemented appropriately. By having an innovation communication plan, you’ll ensure that your team communicates effectively throughout every stage of innovation.

You can download our Innovation Communication Plan infographic by clicking here. For more information about IdeaScale Innovation Stages and how they can help you bring new ideas to light in your organization, visit our Innovation Stages page today!

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What social science can teach us about open innovation

social science and open innovation

One of the biggest challenges in open innovation and crowdsourcing is generating meaningful and authentic engagement.

Today, in the spirit of open innovation, I want to draw on inspiration from Root Solutions, a social science non-profit that uses research on behavioral science to create tools and resources for people driving social change.

An important part of Root Solutions’ behavior design framework are the Building Blocks for Behavioral Change, which happen to have specific parallels to our recommendations for building successful IdeaScale communities and campaigns. Although Root Solutions focuses on environmental practitioners, their building blocks are universal and provide a useful framework for ensuring meaningful and authentic community engagement.

Below are the building blocks that Root Solutions has defined for effectively driving behavioral change, and my interpretation for how they fit within the context of open innovation and crowdsourcing with the IdeaScale solution. All italicized content appears in the original Building Blocks for Behavior Change post.

Root Solutions Building Block: Utilize BENEFITS                                           

“We like to be rewarded, and we hate to be punished – so the right incentives drive positive behavior change.”

Likewise, the right incentives drive positive and meaningful engagement in your IdeaScale community. It is important to align your community and campaign purpose with the existing goals of the individuals you wish to engage.

Root Solutions offers specific reward recommendations that apply to crowd engagement as much as social change. Here is a selection:

  • “Reward specific behaviors” – you might consider rewarding a business unit for highest level of engagement on the platform.
  • “Utilize outcome-based incentives” – you might consider rewarding the company when a top idea or solution is implemented.
  • “Build off of existing goals” – existing goals provide you with invaluable momentum.

Remember that rewards need not be monetary. Here are a few blog’s where we elaborate on this point.

Root Solutions Building Block: Design it to be VIVID:

“Powerful calls to action stand out, appeal to the senses, and exude originality.”           

Likewise, for the calls to action on your community. We want community members to submit ideas, vote and comment on ideas, refine, evaluate, and assess ideas, but what are we really doing? We are convening on IdeaScale to solve a problem together – whether it be college affordability, cancer treatment, or new product design, the call to action should be vivid. Drawing further inspiration from Root Solutions: “Connect the actions to impact…make the problem stand out…and the message memorable.”

Root Solutions Building Block: Frame for the right ASSOCIATIONS

“Effective “framing” strengthens your connection with your audience by ensuring that your message is associated with their pre-existing values, beliefs, and experiences.”

Craft it to be RELATABLE                   

“We respond positively to issues when they are meaningfully connected to our values and we can see how they relate to our own lives.”

Likewise, frame your community or campaign messages around the central values, beliefs, and experiences of your community members. Take care to choose a messenger who is relevant to the audience’s interests and values.

Root Solutions Building Block: Demonstrate what is ORDINARY         

“We want to feel like we belong in our community, so social cues inspire us to take action.”

This principle applies both within and outside an IdeaScale community.

Moderators and admins are in a powerful position to model desired behavior by regularly voting and commenting on ideas in the system. Additionally, leadership should be active participants, demonstrating how they would like the members to participate in the platform. Outside the system, leadership can shame norms by drawing attention to the behavior and actions of others. Finally, by creating an open innovation program within your organization, you too are reinforcing a new social norm. You are joining your peers at the cutting edge of innovation.

You can get some tips for moderation in our moderation tip sheet.

Root Solutions Building Block: Make it EASY

“Removing physical and mental barriers has a powerful impact on environmental behaviors.”

Likewise, removing technical and workplace barriers has a powerful impact on driving meaningful engagement in your IdeaScale community.

The IdeaScale open innovation solution is specifically designed to remove technical barriers to idea submission and make participation in your open innovation program as easy as possible.

You can make participation easy by keeping your community content simple and concise. Describe the desired contributions, workflow, and implementation plan in a clear and succinct manner. Make the platform an everyday or default tool in your work, public, or university environment.

Mental and cultural barriers exist as much in the workplace, university, or civic environment as anywhere else. These barriers can be removed by enlisting leadership in an authentic communication campaign to encourage participation. Confronting potential concerns upfront can help cultivate a culture of trust and open-mindedness, prepping the community to be receptive to new ideas and perspectives. Senior and mid-level leadership should recognize and celebrate the contributions of people in all roles.

Finally, secure buy-in early and often to lower the barrier to idea implementation. Securing sponsorship and resources for implementation before beginning the open innovation program helps steer the ideation toward actionable results.

You can get more tips about engagement in our engagement tip sheet.

Root Solutions Building Block: Achieve LASTING change                                

“Designing actions to be habit-forming creates consistent, long-lasting impacts.”

Make participation a habit by making the call to action easy and ordinary. Start with a small call to action: “Comment on this new idea.” Send out a steady stream of communications and calls to action to earn the knee-jerk reaction of the crowd. You might also use gamification to reward habit forming behaviors. The gold standard community has made idea submission a habit – as soon as the idea occurs to a community member, that member immediately log into the community and submits the idea.

Root Solutions Building Block: Emphasize HOPEFULNESS                    

“Confidence that we can make a positive difference motivates us to take action.”

Likewise, confidence that select ideas will be implemented motivates us to participate actively in the community. Be transparent about your plan for filtering and selecting ideas and your mechanism for implementing top ideas. Celebrate completed ideas and successes publicly.

Learn more by downloading our innovation planning template.

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Open innovation and crowdsourcing are powerful tools for keeping your organization at the forefront of your field. Managing the flow of hundreds or even thousands of ideas through a complex innovation process is made easy with a software solution like IdeaScale. Motivating meaningful participation from a crowd who is otherwise saturated with email, social media other stimuli is a bit more complex. Here, we look to social science for insights on how to engage a crowd through strategic communications, and we thank Root Solutions for their interpretation of the science.

For further guidance on building a thriving community or campaign with purpose and momentum, revisit the resources previously mentioned in this post:

 

Win a Free Innovation Consultation

innovation consultation obstacleInnovation can breathe new life into any organization, but it’s not always a smooth ride when implementing an innovation program. There can be many obstacles along the way. Here are three big stumbling blocks that are encountered when enacting innovation programs, and an opportunity for a free innovation consultation!

1. Lack of planning. One of the first obstacles that many come across is a lack of planning, specifically when it comes to what happens after ideas are submitted to an innovation campaign. Not having a clear idea of what will happen after ideas are submitted, what the timeline will be, what kind of feedback can be expected, how many ideas will be implemented, how will winning ideas be determined, who will be facilitating ideation—both within the administration of the campaign and among the participants—can lead to frustration and gridlock. It can also lead your participants to feel unappreciated and less likely to want to be involved in future campaigns when they don’t have a clear idea of what will happen beyond the idea gathering phase. If you don’t have a clearly devised plan for the “during” and “after” of innovation, you’re going to have a very difficult time, because as we know, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

2. Building a crowd. Innovation experts know that one of the hardest parts of crowdsourcing is finding, maintaining and engaging a crowd. The road to the finish line of an innovation campaign may be paved with good intentions, but if nobody shows up, it’s not making a difference. This obstacle can also intersect with a lack of planning and lead to almost certain failure.

3. Failure to communicate. This road block meets up with the previous two and can severely derail an innovation campaign. If you have not thought through your desired participation audience in the planning stages, how can you know where to reach out to them or how to communicate to them? Is email the most effective method of communication? Social media, physical mailings, cat memes? If you don’t communicate to the crowd that you’re hoping to cultivate, how will they know that you want them to participate?

So you’ve identified one of the three above often-mentioned obstacles to successful innovation, or possibly another obstacle, and now you’re looking to determine where you go from here. Interested in getting some outside insight on your innovation program? Looking for some advice on how to avoid these obstacles from the beginning, or recover from running into them while innovating? Click here for a chance to win a free innovation consultation with the IdeaScale innovation architects!

Workplace Diversity: Effects on Innovation

 

Workplace Diversity: Effects on Innovation Innovation is long past being a “nice-to-have” in business. A recent study shows that more than 90% of executives believe the long-term success of their organization depends on the ability to develop new ideas. Unfortunately, research also shows that most employees don’t feel that their company is doing enough to foster these new ideas.

One source of this disconnect may be that many companies focus on hiring “innovators”. They find one or two key individuals that they believe are innovative, give them a role in management, and rely on them to create new ideas and push them through the organization. However, that doesn’t create innovation. You may be surprised at what does.

Workplace Diversity: The Real Source of Innovation

A study performed by the Center for Talent Innovation found that companies with inherently diverse employees and leaders that foster inclusivity were much more likely to innovate by bringing new products to market or by expanding their existing share of the market. It turns out that having overall diversity is much more important than having one or two key “innovators” on staff, pushing new ideas. Why?

There are several reasons. First, people are much more receptive to ideas when they come up with them, rather than when they are expected to adopt them. A more diverse workplace creates more innovation from every department and every angle, making people more receptive to the changes.

Secondly, people are more receptive to creating and implementing new ideas when the ideas come from someone with similar experiences to them. As a result, a new idea or concept coming from a peer or a similar person in another department is far more palatable than something that is introduced from above and pushed down the chain.

Finally, having diversity in the workplace discourages the formation of groupthink. Groupthink is when everyone in a group agrees with an idea simply because it’s the way it’s always been done, or because dissenters are afraid to speak up and break the unity of the group. When your workforce is diverse, it’s more common to have differing opinions and dialogue happens more naturally.

How to Foster and Use Workplace Diversity 

Workplace diversity goes beyond hiring an ethnically diverse staff, although that is an important step. There are two kinds of workplace diversity that are vital.

  • Inherent diversity focuses on traits you were born with, such as ethnicity and gender.
  • Acquired diversity focuses on having diverse personal experiences. These can include different levels of wealth, different family situations, different geographical backgrounds, and more.

Both are important to a company who wants to be effective in innovation. Once you foster that kind of diversity, it’s important to create an inclusive culture that honors that diversity. This helps you actualize the rewards. Here are some important ways to unlock the benefits of diversity:

  • Listen to different ideas without judgment
  • Provide a safe environment for expressing ideas and taking risks
  • Give teams the ability to make their own decisions
  • Share credit when a team gains an accomplishment
  • Give feedback on all initiatives, including those that fail
  • Implement changes promptly, rather than letting new ideas languish

Being innovative isn’t about having “innovators” on staff. It’s about having a widely diverse workforce that can bring different perspectives, ideas, and thought processes to the table. But it’s not all serious; it’s also about having fun. If you’re interested in fostering fun innovation in your organization, download the Creative Rewards to Incentivize Engagement guide today!

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3 tips for using IdeaScale’s free crowdsourcing platform

free crowdsourcing platform

 

Working on the Customer Success team, I watch people create dozens of new IdeaScale communities every day. Seemingly overnight, many of them flourish with new users and new posted ideas, often faster than they know what to do with. But in contrast, I also notice communities that struggle to gain traction, only to end up abandoned (queue tumbleweed imagery).

Here are 3 tips to give new users, like you, the best chance at a successful IdeaScale community:

1. Visit our library and read free case studies and resources

All IdeaScale customers start their journey with a question or problem they want to ask the crowd. In our case study library, we have nearly 50 customer case studies that highlight some of the challenges they faced and how each one ultimately reached their goals. Each story is unique and carefully chosen to be featured in our library. Hopefully more than one will provide inspiration for your journey. If you’re looking for an example that you don’t see in our library, please don’t hesitate to ask. Our innovation experts are here to help!

2. Craft a compelling incentive to increase participation

A cash prize is probably the first thing that comes to mind, but from our experience it’s rarely the best option. In many cases, cash prizes can attract less than ideal participants that value winning over participation. My colleague Whitney Bernstein gives an example of a non-monetary incentive here. A carefully crafted incentive that focus on encouraging participation is what I recommend. You never know where the best answer will come from, so participation is key to the success of your community. For more ideas, here is a list of options to consider.

3. Reach out for free support

Live Chat Support is available 24/7 anywhere you’re visiting IdeaScale.com. We pride ourselves on offering live chat support whenever you’re faced with a support issue on our site. A real human being is available to assist if you experience a technical issue or if you just need help finding something on our website!

Our dream is to have every IdeaScale community flourish with an abundance of users and ideas by providing all the resources users need to achieve their goals. If there is something missing that you’d like to see, please let me know by sending an email to [email protected]

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 Jeff Wong, Customer Success Advocate at IdeaScale.