Insights and sneak peeks into innovation and IdeaScale.

The Future of Community-Policing: How crowdsourcing can mutually benefit law enforcement and citizens

community policing

As reminders of the escalating tension and broken trust between police departments and the communities they serve grow more and more frequent, law enforcement agencies are equally stepping up their efforts to improve community relations. From cities trying to recruit more minority officers to President Obama’s Executive Order that established a Task Force on 21st Century Policing, it is clear that reducing tensions and strengthening community trust and collaboration is, and continues to be, a top priority for law enforcement.

Without question, in this age of unfiltered social media, law enforcement must be diligent in selecting innovative methods of communication. In our work with domestic and international police departments, we have witnessed crowdsourcing technology’s positive role in facilitating the restorative process between citizens and police officers. Crowdsourcing platforms provide the infrastructure for quality, large-scale conversations. In particular, when they are instituted with intention and proven moderation practices, they can produce these results:

  • Increased avenues for citizens to be heard. Crowdsourcing platforms help break barriers between police and citizens, and allow for agencies to collaborate with the public in order to respond to public concerns. For instance, the New York Police Department started a pilot program in order to get feedback directly from citizens about things that the NYPD could do to help improve quality of life.
  • Hyper-local, moderated conversation. Platforms like IdeaScale allow police to have a localized (specific zip codes) and focused conversation with a larger group of residents. Submissions are made anonymously and commanders can screen out issues that are not police actionable. For residents, they are able to participate in an easy, low-impact way. That is, they can contribute from anywhere at anytime, thereby lowering the barrier to participation.
  • Community-sourced agendas for action. Because citizens are helping police determine which issues resonate within their communities, they therefore are able to direct attention and police resources to what needs to be addressed. These are issues that are most important to people at that time and place.
  • Decreased crime and increased transparency. Police can track work on actionable items, interact on specific issues, and show results using real two-way communication. In this light, NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner Zach Tumin recently announced that our work together has directly helped increase community engagement, empower command, uncover new crime insights, and increase quality of life and safety for both officers and citizens in NYC.

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 Tim Sussman, Director of Government Solutions at IdeaScale.


How will the Internet of Things Impact Healthcare?


IOT HealthcareWhat if you couldn’t open the fridge because you didn’t exercise today? Your phone would send a notification to your fridge alerting it. This scenario is an example of Internet of Things, a technology currently growing into an estimated $1.7 trillion industry by 2020.

Does this situation sound scary? Does this sound like Stranger Things? Or does this only look futuristic?

This is the picture that Drew Palin, Chief Medical Innovation Officer of Preventice, painted at the Illinois Technology Association 2014 panel sessions dedicated to the Internet of Things.

“When you walk in, your TV will come on and say: ‘Good job, Drew. You got some exercise today. I’m going to open the freezer so you can have a fudge bar,” Palin said the Chicago Tribune reported.

Today the Internet of Things conversation has only escalated, along with the prototypes and technology.

So, where are we now with healthcare? Some have said that healthcare is an industry that has been resistant to change. “Health care providers have lagged behind other industries in adopting IoT innovations and using available customer data to inform decision making, but the shift is taking place,” reported Deloitte University Press.

PreScouter, a Chicago-based innovation startup, identified that 96 percent of business leaders plan to use Internet of Things in the next three years. And one of the earliest to adapt industries, is in fact, healthcare.

To continue the conversation and show the advancements in healthcare, PreScouter and GE Healthcare have partnered to discuss how Internet of Things technology will impact healthcare and every industry at an exclusive industry event in Chicago on October 6, 2016.

Bill Shingleton, Ph.D., Technical Lead at GE Healthcare’s British offices, will be presenting on how GE Healthcare, a company that has been developing and researching Internet of Things for a decade, is implementing Internet of Things.

“Clinical practitioners believe technology is trying to replace them,” Shingleton said as one of a few ways including data security and lack of collaboration as the biggest risks that the healthcare industry will struggle with as they adapt Internet of Things technologies.

While there are real obstacles to Internet of Things technology, there are some benefits that will revolutionize the healthcare industry regarding data, monitoring daily health of individuals, to name a few.

Healthcare is not the only industry that will be affected by this technology. As the next multi-trillion dollar industry, Internet of Things will be pervasive. PreScouter will have some of their scientists at their fifth disruptive technologies series event, “How will the Internet of Things impact your industry,” to answer questions about Internet of Things effects on multiple sectors.

Internet of Things will also impact manufacturing as machines talk to machines for greater efficiency. It will impact transportation regarding developing smart cities and autonomous cars. Internet of Things will transform energy as smart homes help families and business monitor their energy usages.

Are you ready for the Internet of Things revolution? Sign-up for the Internet of Things Summit today.

This article is a guest post by Amanda Elliott.Amanda Elliott is the Marketing Coordinator and Journal Editor at PreScouter, an innovation consulting startup. She is experienced in creating content and marketing campaigns. In her free time, Amanda interviews other Chicago startups in her blog, Windy City Cosmo.


Innovation Academy Week 2 – Build a Highly Functional Team

Innovation Academy Week 2 – Build a Highly Functional TeamWelcome to week two of the Innovation Academy! Week one was full of great insights, including how to clearly define problems and generate innovative ideas on how to solve them. As you move toward choosing a solution, you’ll need a team to help you implement it, which is the focus this week.

Choosing a team can be difficult. We’ve all been on teams where one or more members simply didn’t want to be there or were disengaged. As a team leader, you may be nervous about making sure you choose both highly capable and low-maintenance people. That’s why there’s a whole week of the Academy devoted to effective team building.

Common Problems in Work Teams 

Everyone knows that true change can’t be implemented by a single person, but everyone also knows that getting a group together and asking them to pull in the same direction is an invitation to trouble. There are many symptoms of unhealthy teams. Fortunately, these can be addressed. This allows you to have capable people who are engaged and actively contributing.

Here are some of the problems you may encounter:

  • Little Sense of Ownership. Sometimes being on a team stifles your employees’ desire for autonomy, and they respond by not taking responsibility for the work of the group. Fortunately, you can prevent this by clearly assigning tasks and following up with the individuals to make sure it happens. In addition, create positive reinforcement for good work, rather than just punishment for mistakes.
  • Ineffective Reward Strategy. Speaking of positive reinforcement, when was the last time your boss truly rewarded you for a job well done? To run an effective team, there has to be a great reward strategy or strong internal motivation. Some examples of fun incentives include a great parking spot, a chance to “be the boss” for a day or a day where the team is allowed to wear flip flops. You can even award play money for great work and let the team members “purchase” from different prize options.
  • Poor Communication. Whether the team members simply don’t like each other, or they lack the communication skills needed to do well, poor communication is a frequent problem. By being a great communicator yourself, you can head off some of the issues. In addition, provide a variety of ways for team members to contribute, both in writing and verbally. That way no one will feel too intimidated to speak up.

Key Factors of a Strong Team 

Besides overcoming common problems, you want to build a team that has core competencies that are well suited to innovation within your organization. Here are some things that are important to have when building an effective team:

  • Key Stakeholders Represented. Nothing is worse than doing weeks of work only to have it shot down by the accounting department because no one thought to include them in budget discussions. Make sure your team represents key stakeholders in the innovation process.
  • Diversity. Ethnic, life experience and skill diversity are all key. Different types of people will have different perspectives and diversity will help you avoid groupthink. In addition, having a diversity of skills ensures that someone on your team is capable of almost any task.
  • Capitalize on Strengths and Expertise. Diversity doesn’t mean much if you don’t take advantage of your team’s variety of strengths. Make sure to assign tasks that best capitalize on each member’s strengths and expertise.
  • Establish Expectations and a Team Rhythm. Teams do best when they know what’s expected of them, and what they can expect as they work together. Set expectations in the first meeting. You should let your team create some of the rules, and add your own as well. In addition, you’ll want to create a rhythm for the team meetings. It should have a similar flow and duration each time.
  • Give Appropriate Support. As a team leader, you have a responsibility to stand up for your team members, make sure they have the tools and resources they need, and hold them accountable for their results. Sometimes that means helping them explain to their boss that team activities are important. Sometimes that means rewarding great work. Whatever you need to do, be sure you support your team.

By avoiding key problems and including vital elements in your team, you’ll be well on your way to having a highly functional team for your innovation project. To get started with positive reinforcement for your team,  downloading our guide Creative Ways to Incentivize Engagement.

We’re already halfway through the Innovation Academy. You’re doing great! If you believe the Academy is helpful, please share the Innovation Academy workbook with your peers. Stay tuned for Week 3 where you’ll learn how to take your winning new idea and create a robust proposal.


The innovator and the organization: why we don’t go to work to innovate


Be brutally efficient with ideas and radically generous towards people

When looking at innovation, it can sometimes be easier to talk about process rather than people. There is a dichotomy between the role “The Innovator” and “The Organization” that often makes it hard to reward and incentivize innovators the way we really need to. The actions of an innovator are, by necessity, risky, non-hierarchal and deserving of exceptional reward. This contrasts with most of our organizations, which have been built up to effectively manage large groups towards common goals and, therefore, thrive off stability, order and chain-of-command. The reaction is often to silo innovation to some combination of R&D and board room meetings. Finding systems that empower innovators without breaking organizational structure is the dilemma that largely defines our industry. It’s an important question to answer, because, if we don’t make it worth people’s while, why would they come to work to innovate?

Companies have to get braver in the ways they reward and trust their employees if they want to truly turn themselves into innovation powerhouses.

It is a problem with very real consequences. Here at IdeaScale we use one stat a lot: the fact that between 1999 and 2009, 50% of the Fortune 500 lost their position on the list as they failed to meaningfully keep pace with the market. This is despite almost 3% of US GDP being spent on R&D.

At the same time there is clear alienation of workers from boardroom goals, with a recent LinkedIn survey showing that only 37% of people in the global workforce are purpose-driven in their work – the rest are coming in, receiving their instructions and clocking out (I heard this stat at a conference, but it, along with a ton of other gold, should be reported here). This is, once again, despite massive investment, with US HR organizations spending almost $3000 per employee.

It is my belief that these two phenomena tell us a strong story; that companies have to get braver in the ways they reward and trust their employees if they want to truly turn themselves into innovation powerhouses.

There is no greater benefit to your employees than empowering them to prove their worth through high-quality delivery of innovation.

The good news is that people are doing this! In government you have the Department of Energy running the awesome Sun Shot challenge, Sensis Innovation coming up with great ways to create challenges in the public sector and providing a comprehensive list of all federal government challenges. Combined, along with many others, these organizations are working to create a more responsive and inclusive government.

In the private sector a great example is Whole Foods who have been radical in the way they empower and reward local teams of employees to come up with solutions rather than rely on top-down initiatives. The success of this approach has been pretty widely discussed and Fast Company recently did a good profile on exactly how Whole Foods works.

In private we also see many of our customers starting to do this well; allowing winning ideas to be pitched to the CEO and implemented with the original submitter leading the way. There is no greater benefit to your employees than empowering them to prove their worth through high-quality delivery of innovation.

To solve the dichotomy of the innovator and the organization we must build tools that allow a company to efficiently manage and identify the best ideas among many.

So what does this all mean for the product team here at IdeaScale? We have come up with a phrase I use quite a bit; “be efficient towards ideas, but generous towards people.” It is this attempt that defines the tools we want to build for our customers over the coming years. To solve the dichotomy of the innovator and the organization we must build tools that allow a company to efficiently manage and identify the best ideas among many, while at the same time making it possible for a diligent moderation team to make every user feel valued. We have some pretty exciting things coming down the road to significantly improve the efficacy of both of these “streams.”

On a larger scale, I think it means working with customers and partners to get people talked about more often and earlier in innovation strategy meetings. Tools can make this radical generosity possible, but in the end it will be down to the organizations themselves. When we have organizations with the flexibility to reward a first-year employee with a genius idea as the innovator they are; when a mechanic in Cleveland with a great idea knows that she will be listened to by her government and can make her community better; then we will get the innovative organizations we truly want and it will be because people will want to join us on the journey. We spend every day here at IdeaScale talking about both efficiency and generosity, but I personally get a real kick out of the human potential in the second half of our little slogan and hope some of you do too.

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 James Baillie, Head of Product at IdeaScale.

How To Use Lateral Thinking To Find Innovation

Lateral thinking can unlock creativity.

Innovation strategy is far more than just holding a meeting and brainstorming. The best innovation strategy encourages new kinds of thinking, new approaches to challenges, and surprising takes on unusual situations. And one of the best tools to find this is lateral thinking.

What Is Lateral Thinking?

Most of us use “vertical” thinking when we approach problems. Vertical thinking is a step by step approach built on an assumption of results. That is, if you take an action, your next step is built on the idea the previous one will unfold exactly as you expect. The problem, as we all know, is that vertical thinking doesn’t deal well with unknown consequences or unexpected responses. Or, perhaps, the next step isn’t totally clear; you know your goal but not how to reach it, or all your steps are unsatisfactory in some way.

That’s where lateral thinking comes in. For example, if you walk into a room, you see a broken vase and your cat sitting where the vase was, licking his paw, you might assume that the cat knocked over the vase. It’s a logical conclusion, after all. But think about your assumptions in this chain of events. Do they hold up? Are they facts?

Lateral thinking is a form of sidestep in logic, looking at each part of both the problem and a potential solution from different angles. So how do you apply it to innovation?

Applying Lateral Thinking

A different perspective can yield brilliant results.

The best place to start with lateral thinking is to challenge your assumptions. In fact, your car runs thanks to lateral thinking. When gasoline was first distilled, it was a waste product that resulted from making kerosene, little more than an annoyance for chemical manufacturers. But as experiments with building combustion engines unfolded, and the seemingly logical method of burning coal gas or other hydrocarbons turned out to be too volatile, chemists remembered this other hydrocarbon they had lying around that might work. With a little refinement, what was once chemical garbage now drives the world’s economy.

So, when innovating, list out the assumptions you’ve been using to this point. This could range for the assumed market for your product to how it’s put together to how it gets to market. Then go through and challenge each of these. Just how true is this assumption? How much of this is fact?

Another approach is to question each step and look at everything that step does, not just the results you’re looking for. One example of this comes from Pfizer, and their most well-known product, Viagra. Viagra was synthesized to be a blood pressure medication, but when the results came back, it turned out to have a completely unexpected effect.

Finally, look at the order of your steps. What happens if you take them out of order? What changes? What happens if you do them in reverse?

Lateral thinking can be a challenge, at first, but it’s a powerful tool for innovation strategy. To build on not just lateral thinking, but all the tools of innovation, get the Innovation Starter Kit.

Innovation Academy Week 1 – Get Creative. Ideate!

Innovation Academy Week 1 – Get Creative. Ideate!We’ve all been in brainstorming meetings where no one talks. Then there are meetings where just one or two people do, while everyone else stares or works on their laptop. The only thing more frustrating about being in one of those meetings is leading one.

There has to be a better way. Fortunately, there is. You can encourage innovation at every level in your organization, whether you hold brainstorm sessions or not. In addition, you can reach outside your organization and harness the power of the crowd through crowdsourcing.

Ideate: Refine the Problem 

Before you can solicit ideas, you want to make sure you have the problem clearly defined. Review problems that have come up through customer and prospect feedback. Once you have a list of possible issues to address, you’ll need to prioritize the list based on how crucial the problems are to your organization.

A prioritized list helps provide order, but should be refined. Meet with the stakeholders that are involved in the pain point you are trying to address. This may include customer service teams, management, sales teams, and more. They will help you pinpoint exactly what the concern is so you know precisely what to ask your contributors for.

Ideate: Get Ideas 

It’s time to solve the problem. Part of innovation is getting new ideas that haven’t been done in your organization already. It’s about thinking outside the box and challenging the way things have already been done.

There are a variety of ways to get great ideas. Here are a few to consider:

  • Ask Your Staff. Many times, the people who already work on the front lines of the problem have ideas about how it can be solved. Unfortunately, they are rarely asked for their opinion. Solutions are brainstormed at higher levels and trickle down to the staff. Reverse the trend. Get ideas for innovation from those who deal with the issue every day.
  • Crowdsource. Sometimes, the best ideas come from outside your organization. People who participate in crowdsourcing aren’t motivated the same way your employees are. You can often break out of groupthink and stray far from the way things have always been done.
  • Create a Landing Page. When you’re looking for ways to collect ideas, a landing page can be a great idea. It gives people 24/7 access to submit ideas, which can be very important if your organization has different shifts or if you’re crowdsourcing. In addition, a landing page can be more non-threatening than a group brainstorming environment. Submissions can be anonymous if desired, and no one feels they are competing for attention with others in the room.

Ideate: Begin the Voting Process 

Once you have a collection of innovative ideas, it’s time to choose one. The best way to do this is through voting. In this way, all of the stakeholders and those who participate in the process can help select the idea that will be most effective for your organization.

If you’re using a system like IdeaScale you can set up the project and use communities to facilitate the process. If not, you can solicit votes through your organizations’ intraweb, website, or an internal process management system. You can even use a simple survey to determine the winner.

If you aren’t using IdeaScale, it’s important to know the date and time each idea was submitted. This will help you ensure that the prize goes to the first person who submitted the idea, rather than subsequent entrants.

Once you’ve voted, it’s time to begin refining the winning idea and moving toward implementation. To do that, you’ll need a team. Come back next week for information on how to build an effective team and help prevent common team-related problems. If you haven’t downloaded the Innovation Academy workbook, you can download it here.

To continue learning more about the Ideate Stage, download An Introduction to Crowdsourcing. See you next week!


Looking at Nothing: What NASA’s 1996 discovery teaches us about business innovation


space innovation

In 1996, NASA changed everything by looking at nothing.

What if I told you one of the biggest discoveries ever made by NASA, that would change how we view our human existence entirely, was made by taking a huge risk and looking into space at utterly nothing? 

In 1996, the Hubble Telescope team decided to point the telescope, the most powerful tool ever built by human beings, at absolutely nothing – a dark patch in the sky that seemed void of stars, planets, or even galaxies. 

The team took a chance, making an unpopular decision, to say the least. They wanted to see, “what would happen.” Their colleagues ridiculed them telling them there is no chance they see anything at all, what a waste of precious telescope time, money, and energy. 

Ten days later, the most powerful image ever of our universe was assembled.

space innovation

Protons that had traveled 13 billion years reached the telescope. Light from over 3,000 galaxies appeared, each one containing hundreds of billions of stars. Every dot, speckle, and smear on the image was a galaxy, resulting in one of the most profound images ever assembled – the ultra deep field.

Being innovative, finding new ideas, making discoveries takes an open mindset, it takes the right tools, and it takes confidence. It’s not easy going against the status quo and taking risks. Sometimes you have to be comfortable with uncertainty.

But the rewards can be industry changing, revolutionary, once in a lifetime, or even just unique.

Here’s what NASA’s space innovation can teach us about business innovation:

  1. Great ideas may not always seem so great at the time. But when set in the right framework with the right processes, you can feel comfortable taking leaps of faith.
  2. Open Innovation allows us to capture the innovative, risk-taking vision and spirit of the 1996 Hubble team. With the advent of innovation software, we can now easily invite employees and customers to suggest wild, game-changing ideas that otherwise may never have been expressed at all.
  3. Not all risks are expensive. Gratefully, we live in a time where we don’t have to throw a bunch of money into projects with our fingers crossed. When we harness the power of the crowd and utilize the right innovation tools, we can capture the Hubble team’s open-mindedness and risk-taking spirit — without the huge cost implications.

Let’s take some risks together, just like the NASA Hubble Telescope team did 20 years ago.

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 Zach WeismannDirector of Enterprise Solutions at IdeaScale.



Innovation Management Awards 2016 Are Open!

TScreen Shot 2016-09-05 at 9.48.56 PMhink you have a unique and successful strategy for engaging with your community? Or perhaps you feel like you’ve cornered the market on moderating your community and the resulting ideas? Maybe you have a truly groundbreaking new product or process?

If any of these fit with your organization this year, enter your team for the 2016 Innovation Management Awards! Now in their fourth year, the Awards cover three categories: Best Innovation (awarded for best new product, process or market shift); Best Moderation Strategy (awarded for most efficient and effective moderation for refining and evaluating ideas); and Best Engagement Strategy (awarded for high level of engagement through unique methods). Other characteristics of winning campaigns might be quantifiable impacts, unique tactics, and creativity.

Previous winners have made strides in innovation and best practices in a wide range of fields. The 2015 Innovation Award winners—the Western Australia Police, Innovate Your State and Making All Voices Count—were leaders in their fields; all three pushed for inclusivity, transparency, and an increased quality of life. Other previous winners have focused on public policy, government, the environment, customer service, and technology.

In addition to all of those amazing prizes awaiting the winners, former Innovation Management Award recipients have gone on to garner further glory and acclaim for their winning programs. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Sunshot Catalyst Initiative, our 2014 Innovation Management Award winner for Best Moderation Strategy, went on to win the 2015 ISPIM (International Society for Professional Innovation Management) Grand Prize. The Grand Prize competition was launched in early 2015 specifically to recognize areas of innovation that are usually not as touted as the actual innovations themselves, including moderation and engagement. It all started with an IdeaScale community and an incredibly thorough plan for moderating ideas.

2016 Innovation Management Award winners in each category will receive an Apple Watch, a discount on their 2017 subscription, a VIP pass to the 2017 Open Nation Conference, a free IdeaBuzz challenge, and a promotional PR packet.

Be sure to enter your submissions by Friday, November 18, 2016. Winners will be announced in December 2016. For specific rules and eligilbity, and to apply, visit .

Welcome to the Innovation Academy

Welcome to the Innovation AcademyWhile research shows that 90% of executives believe the long-term success of their organization relies on innovation, we all know that 90% of companies aren’t innovating at full potential. That’s why we decided to create this series and name it Innovation Academy.

Our goal is to encourage program managers to understand and advocate for innovation within their company. When you understand the steps and processes that are part of innovation, you can begin to build these into your projects and teams. The great results you get can help you sell innovation processes to your leadership at increasingly higher levels.

What’s Included in Innovation Academy?

No high-quality class starts without a syllabus, so we wanted to give you a quick overview of what you can expect from the Innovation Academy series. We have a four-week program planned, with each week focusing on a different vital topic. We want to help you understand all of the elements that go into a successful innovation project.

Week 1: Get Creative. Ideate! Go beyond brainstorming and learn to encourage your team to come with new ideas every day – not just during a special meeting. Week one will give you the tools and incentives you need to foster innovative ideas at every level of your organization.

Week 2: Build Your Team. No innovation happens without teamwork. Week two will teach you how to build an effective team and handle the common issues that arise on teams. You’ll learn how to get everyone to not only work at a high level but enjoy doing it!

Week 3: Refine Your Idea into a Robust Proposal. Once you’ve got a great idea and a good team, it’s time to refine your idea into a specific proposal. In week three, you’ll learn the steps you need to take to create a strong proposal and help it speed through the approval process.

Week 4: Assess and Implement. Once you’ve gotten your innovative idea defined and approved, it’s time to implement. Week four will help you understand why implementation is vital to an ongoing innovation process and avoid common pitfalls that stall the execution of new ideas.

How to Prepare for the Next Four Weeks 

Are you excited? I know we are! Now ideas and learning are important, but implementation is where the rubber meets the road. To make the most of Innovation Academy, you’ll want to prepare some things in advance. Then, you can follow along with each lesson and work through each process as we describe it.

First, you’ll want to define the problem you want to solve. Here are some steps to take:

  • Start with meeting with your customer service team to see what common issues currently exist for customers.
  • Review customer feedback you’ve received in surveys or online.
  • Compile all of the ideas into an innovation project system like IdeaScale or even a simple online bulletin board like Trello. Alternatively, you can use a spreadsheet.
  • Finally, take your large list and work with your management team to create a matrix or scoring system. You can use the scoring to prioritize and select the key problem you’ll be focusing on.

Secondly, you’ll want to set up key systems that will help you as you move through the innovation process. Here are some you might consider:

  • A meeting space. While you may think of a conference room, consider something more flexible in case team members are remote. A virtual meeting room is a collaboration service that brings real-time voice, video and content sharing tools into a single solution.  You can also consider virtual meeting services like  or Go to Meeting.
  • A private Facebook group. Because almost everyone has a Facebook account, a private Facebook group can be an easy, simple, and free way to bring everyone together to collaborate.
  • Trello is a simple visual system that allows you to virtually organize and prioritize ideas. It looks and acts just like a virtual bulletin board.
  • Dropbox or Google Drive will allow you to share documents easily among team members. You can also have group editing of documents, with everyone’s contributions noted with their name or initials.
  • If you’re looking for an all-in-one innovation project management solution, consider IdeaScale. IdeaScale includes tools that allow you to share and collaborate with your team, evaluate and prioritize ideas, and finally develop and deliver the winning solution.

Next, think through what recognition or rewards you want to give to the person or group that comes up with the winning innovation. A financial bonus is great, but think beyond money as well. What kind of recognition or special reward means a lot in your organization? Beyond the traditional options, consider something like WooBoard, which gives you a cloud-based way to recognize employees and allow them to choose their own rewards.

Finally, consider what kind of budget you might have to work with, and start thinking of what team members might be ideal. It’s never too early to start planting seeds with ideal team members! Let them know that you’re considering an innovation project and think they’d be a good fit. Advance notice is always appreciated!

When you take those planning steps, you’ll be ready to learn about new ideation processes. We’ve all been in a room with a whiteboard and sticky notes, and there’s room for that. However, there are also other ways you can encourage innovation within your organization.

Come back next week for week one! In the meantime, download the Innovation Academy workbook and Innovation Starter Kit to get a jumpstart on your innovation project.


Innovation is a Team Sport

innovation team


“It takes a village to raise a child,” and to build a strong innovation program. You’ve read the research—crowdsourcing and open innovation are powerful tools for organizations of all sizes, structures, and disciplines to source game-changing ideas and solutions—but how do these organizations get from launch to valuable results?

Pulling from our work with a variety of organizations including large tech companies, government agencies, universities, and more, I noticed a big correlation between success and a well rounded innovation team. Crowdsourcing innovation isn’t just about the ideators or the ideas, it requires planning, promoting, monitoring, and in the end, deployment. The key to success? Divide and conquer.

Benefits of building an innovation team:

  • Building a team allows the work to be shared, making it easier to fit tasks related to an innovation project into busy schedules.
  • Assigning different aspects of a program to those with the appropriate knowledge and strengths allows everyone to shine.
  • Ownership has been proven to increase happiness and quality of work. By inviting a team to design and deploy your program with you, you are inviting them to take ownership of the program.
  • By getting more people involved in an innovation program from the beginning, you grow the knowledge base, and your program will benefit from the breadth of their unique perspectives.
  • Dividing tasks into roles is the most efficient way to get the most accomplished.

Ready to meet your innovation team? Here are your key players:

  • Champion – Project manager and ambassador who will lead the team, grow awareness around the project, and see the results actualized.
  • Content Creators – Preferably someone who understands your company or organization’s Marketing, Branding, and/or PR departments. Content creators will create the language and imagery of your campaign, including materials used to promote, publicize, and engage potential participants.
  • Moderators – Moderators are in direct communication with the community by approving submissions, responding to participant questions and promoting participation through comments and other channels.
  • Cheerleaders – Your champion should be promoting the project internally from pre-launch. Gaining buy-in from key individuals within your company or organization will help guide the project and make it to take crowd submissions to the next step.
  • Evaluators – Internal or external to your organization, evaluators review qualifying submissions and select the top contenders to move on to the next stage.
  • Implementors – What happens once the ideas have been collected? Taking ideas to action is the most exciting part of an open innovation or crowdsourcing program. Implementors get to bring ideas to life.

Innovation is a team sport, and every position matters as much as the next. Ideas alone are just that, ideas. A strong team will help uncover the best ideas and develop them into tangible results.

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 Lindsay Rentz, Community Strategist at IdeaScale.