Insights and sneak peeks into innovation and IdeaScale.

Net Neutrality and its Impact on Innovation

Net NeutralityIn today’s technologically advanced society, the Internet is a vital resource for start-ups and established businesses alike when it comes to driving innovation. From finding new ideas to testing prototypes, the Internet provides a vast multimedia platform through which companies can innovate on a global scale.

However, in recent months the topic of ‘net neutrality’ has become a growing concern for innovators. Simply put, net neutrality is a practice which ensures that Internet service providers (ISPs) should be legally required to enable access to all online content and applications regardless of the source and without favoring or blocking specific products, services or websites.

In this manner, net neutrality provides a level playing field where businesses of all shapes and sizes can drive innovation and compete for the attention of consumers without restriction. Until recently, net neutrality has been upheld by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and their 2015 Open Internet Order. However, on December 14th, 2017, the FCC voted to repeal the current US legislation on net neutrality. Given that the previous US administration proposed a strong defense of net neutrality on the grounds that it promotes innovation, we have to wonder how will this recent decision affect start-ups and small businesses? As an Inverse article highlights;

“We are still in the infancy of the web…We are just starting to see AR, VR, and mixed reality take off. This field plus many other new technology fields will need access to even fast(er) networks and more data delivery. Incumbent technology companies plus start-ups will be racing with each other to develop the new ideas. Start-ups to challenge and progress the status quo will need the critical access to an equal and fair playing field”.

After all, companies such as Google, Apple, Amazon and Netflix as well as small businesses and individual users have voiced their outrage at the repeal of net neutrality on the grounds that it will enable ISPs such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to corner the market it and price out competition. But how is this possible? One article, “The End of a Free and Open Internet?”, advocates that;

“The end result would mean that even if you paid a more expensive monthly fee for high speed internet, the loading times of certain websites could still be significantly lower if the site in question did not have a deal with your ISP. For example, if your ISP had a partnership with Netflix then they could slow down the loading times of sites such as Amazon Video in order to make their own TV and movie services more appealing”.

In this manner, it is suggested that small content producers will not be able to afford the rates which ISPs will inevitably charge for faster loading times. As such, the repeal of net neutrality could create a ‘two-tiered’ Internet where wealthy established corporations pay for their preferred content to be delivered at rapid speeds whilst start-ups and small businesses are left with slow loading times which will actively deter consumers, hinder their profit margins and stifle innovation within the international marketplace. As Nicholas Economides, professor of Economics at NYU Stern School of Business, aptly states;

“The greatest threat to innovation is if new companies, innovative companies, have to pay a lot to be on the same playing field as everybody else…Net neutrality supporters worry there might be secondary effects from limiting the free flow of ideas and information online”.

Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Experts such as University of Pennsylvania professor Gerald Fauhaber have argued that eliminating net neutrality could actually benefit small content producers and drive innovation. In a Spectrum article, Faulhaber compared tiers of Internet speeds to the various delivery services offered by a post office;

“One company can pay a little extra for expedited service while others who don’t need rushed delivery simply pay the standard rate…We’ve heard this about how only large firms will be able to do it, but if you look at the way the economy works—that’s not true at all…The only people who will buy it are those that need it, and if you’re a small firm and you need it, you’ll buy it…I don’t see this as removing opportunities, I see this as creating opportunities for innovation”.

Regardless of the ultimate impact of net neutrality, the art of innovation is often driven by having access to the right resources. By focusing upon garnering data on your target market, refining ideas and testing prototypes, creators equip themselves with the power to define how, where and when they innovate; irrespective of loading speeds. To learn more on the ways in which your company can drive innovation, why not sign up for the IdeaScale newsletter today? The newsletter provides insightful updates on important changes in the technology sector which will help your brand to engage with a larger network of clients.

This is a guest post authored by Amber Tanya, a writer from Kent, England. Miss Tanya has worked as a ghost writer servicing multiple international news and automotive publications. Miss Tanya also holds a First Class Honours degree in English Literature from an esteemed British University. She primarily writes technological, travel and scientific articles but is versatile and enjoys writing across a broad range of other topics. You can contact Miss Tanya at [email protected] Miss Tanya can produce outstanding content upon request and can adapt her writing style to suit the tone of your brand.

Mindfulness and Innovation

The start of a new year is so motivating. A fresh start, a new leaf – we usually enter a year with a lot of good intentions and plans to make positive changes in our lives. I know it can be tricky to stick to your resolutions, but I like making these promises to myself. This year I decided to integrate mindfulness into my life. The basic concept is simple: pay more attention to the little things in life, focus on what’s important and set aside time to be good to yourself. This can include meditation and yoga but also short exercises you can incorporate into your daily life.

So, what does mindfulness have to do with ideation and innovation? A lot more than you might think. I’m sure anyone who has done creative work of any kind has hit a mental roadblock before. Sometimes your brain just won’t let you be creative. You might be tired or overworked, experiencing a lack of sleep or just have other things on your mind.

This is where mindfulness can help you out. Take a 5-minute time out or use part of your lunch or coffee break to refuel your creativity. I would like to share three short exercises that can help you in a pinch.

Today I Noticed

Grab a piece of paper and write down the words “Today I noticed…“. Use the remaining time you set aside for this exercise to list everything that comes to mind. Don’t limit your thoughts and simply list everything and anything you noticed that day. It can be anything from a new billboard you saw out of the corner of your eye on the way to work or a coworker’s new haircut. Maybe you recently started working out and are starting to notice the first hints of a six pack? Whatever it is, write it down. This will make you focus on details and really think about things which can enhance your creativity.


Is something on your mind? Funny question, actually. If you’re like me, your mind is constantly racing and you’re always thinking about something. This exercise can help you if there is one thing in particular that you feel is blocking your creativity. Maybe it’s an argument with someone you care about or a task that is overdue. It doesn’t matter – anything can become so consuming that we can’t let our minds be free. My suggestion: draw a mind map! Write your biggest thought or worry in the middle of a piece of paper and spend just a few minutes writing down every thought connected to it. Sometimes having it all out there on a piece of paper helps see the bigger picture makes you feel lighter.

Object Focus

Pick a random object – a stapler, a paperclip or anything else that is small and within your reach. Take a piece of paper and write down as many uses for this object as you can. Again, don’t limit yourself, if you think of building a stapler fort or making a rug out of paperclips, write it down. The focus on a particular object makes it easier to come up with ideas and the openness to anything that you can think of can help reactivate your brain and your creative spirit.

These simple exercises can help a busy mind settle down and get into a creative state. The right mindset is essential to generating quality ideas. There are numerous use cases for these exercises — here are some examples:

  • Inspire your users and help them with ideation
  • Brainstorm ideas for your next campaign
  • Restore calm and focus in a noisy workshop or seminar
  • Start a prototyping workshop to bring community ideas to life

What other mindfulness practices do you use in the workplace? Do you see the relationship between mindfulness and innovation?  

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 Chloe Guenther, Innovation Consultant at IdeaScale

Five Must-Attend Innovation and Technology Conferences in 2018

How do you learn more about innovation? Attending conferences is a great way to ignite your creativity, whether you’re just beginning to develop an innovation strategy or a long-time veteran of building innovation. There are many great technology conferences in 2018, but these five are particular standouts for innovation this year:

Chicago Ideas

Chicago, Year-Round Events

The Chicago Ideas Festival has expanded from a one-week event, which is still in the works for 2018, to a year-round collection of innovation talks, inspirational ideas, and other approaches that makes it easier to think on innovation. Luminaries from across the world speak at events ranging from talks on wellness to the ability to help the team put together the best possible festival. Especially if you’re in the area, it’s a great opportunity to get involved and build a better conference.


Austin, March 9th to March 13th

SXSW may have made its name as a music festival, but its technology side has become increasingly important and even fascinating. It’s a bit of a cross between a more traditional conference and a freewheeling science fair like the Consumer Electronics Show. You’ll get both more thoughtful presentations about technology and also a look at the more impractical, but entertaining, side of tech. And, of course, you can catch some great music, visit the film festival, and take in the local art scene.

Collision Conference

New Orleans, April 30th to May 3rd

This sprawling conference brings together thousands of entrepreneurs from more than five thousand companies and 120 countries to talk innovation, how their industries are rapidly changing, and what it means for global commerce and even just getting on with day to day business. It’s a great way to learn how others approach your industry’s challenges and ideas. And, if you’ve got some vacation time, you can wrap up the conference and attend New Orleans’ famous Jazz Fest immediately afterward.

Mobile Beat 2018

San Francisco, June 25th and 26th

Focused on the mobile and app sphere, this conference promises to be particularly compelling this year, as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other buzzy technology is beginning to filter down to the mobile industry. In particular, the San Francisco setting promises to bring out some of the industry’s biggest names to discuss where the rubber of artificial intelligence meets the road made out of apps and mobile devices. There’s always something compelling out of the talks and roundtables held here, and this year promises to be no different.

The Fast Company Innovation Festival

New York, Fall 2018

Sponsored by the tech magazine, The Fast Company Innovation Festival is particularly fascinating for what it calls “Fast Tracks”—essentially site visits with innovative companies in the area where you can learn how their process works, how they came to decide on specific innovations, and what’s coming for them in the future. Everything from pizza restaurants to industrial tech companies will weigh in on how to create a better innovation strategy. Especially if you’re struggling to think outside your industry, it’s a superb way to refresh your thinking.

If you want to build on what you’ve learned from these conferences, contact us about building a stronger innovation strategy.

Going for Gold: Achieving Olympic Level Innovation

“The Olympics remain the most compelling search for excellence that exists in sport, and maybe in life itself.”
– Dawn Fraser (3-time Olympic medalists)

Hundreds of the world’s best athletes parade into the stadium for the opening ceremony.  Each is smiling and waving to the crowd, celebrating having made their winter Olympic team.  As they gather in mass, you can feel the comradery begin to give way to their competitive spirt. Every participant realizes to beat the best they will have to be at their best. Their preparation and training got them this far, but the games are just beginning. And similar to your business, success depends on your people’s ability to consistently out-think, out-create, and out-perform the competition. Is your organization prepared to compete for the future? Would your organization medal in innovation or miss standing on the winner’s podium all together? To answer this question, consider how effective your enterprise is at executing these foundational innovation tasks.

Strategizing: Setting direction and priorities for innovation
Exploring: Uncovering unmet needs and significant opportunities
Generating: Creating many high potential ideas
Optimizing: Iterating and improving the value of ideas
Selecting: Making good choices among new ideas
Developing: Designing, building, and testing new products and services
Implementing: Delivering innovative solutions on time and within budget
Commercializing: Launching and scaling up new businesses

The inability to complete these tasks on a consistent basis across the enterprise and with external partners leads to low returns on your enterprise’s total innovation investment.  Typically these organizations find their pursuit of the new to be slow, haphazard, and episodic. This lack of innovation fitness is high risk in today’s hyper fast and competitive economy.  Few enterprises can afford to have their high potential ideas end up being stalled from the start, diluted beyond recognition, or crushed by an overweight bureaucracy.  Which is why measuring your fitness level and identifying gaps is a great start toward improvement and market success.

Necessary, But Not Sufficient

However, having a general understanding of your innovation capabilities is not the same as knowing how to best use them to get results.  Being fit is advantageous in all sports, but it doesn’t ensure you will be a winner.  Consider the athletic profile of different athletes and the training they do to compete.  There is a reason that weightlifters are not usually good fencers and swimmers are rarely world-class hockey players. Different sports require different capabilities and fitness programs, and so do your innovation efforts.

The Four Innovation Sports

Using the simple and practical framework described below can help you decide how best to allocate your enterprise’s time, creativity, and resources across what I call “the four sports”.  The framework divides innovation strategies along two key variables; the enterprise’s Offerings (the products, services, and experiences they provide) and their Market (the customer segments they serve).  The strategies are further refined depending on whether they are focused on Existing or New Markets and Offerings.


Level Innovation

1: Bobsledding—The primary innovation goal is to lead the core business to peak profitability over the long run by getting employees to help continuously improve performance.  With no new markets or products to develop, the bobsledder mindset and training routine is geared toward avoiding crashes and getting teammates to optimize their timed sleigh runs down narrow, twisting, banked, iced tracks ahead of the competition. Managers encourage their workforce to come up with new ways to run the current business better, faster, and cheaper.

2: Ski Jumping— The primary innovation goal is to extend product lines with incremental improvements and next generation offerings.  Think of Apple refreshing and prolonging their computer line with the colorful iMacs. Given new jumping techniques and the fact that distance records are broken on a regular basis, your enterprise cannot stop performing at a high level. The good news is you know the market so the run down the ramp is a familiar one and the muscle memory needed to gain the necessary lift and extension for your new products is well ingrained.

3: Figure Skating—The primary innovation goal is to leverage something the enterprise does well into a new space.  This pivot requires the enterprise to take its basic skating skillset and develop compelling programs to impress new judges at every round of the competition. Each set of judges will expect extraordinary levels of artistic and technical achievement in order to give the routine high marks. Think of the splash Apple made when it opened its own exclusive retail stores around the world. Companies that successfully leap and land a double axel into an adjacent market draw on their existing innovation capabilities while aggressively gathering insight into new customer needs, technology trends, and market dynamics.

4: Biathlon— The primary innovation goal is to convert breakthrough ideas into bold new products and businesses.  Here Apple really had to “think different” as they disrupted the music industry with the iPod and iTunes. Like biathlon athletes, game changing innovations typically require companies to call on a diverse set of skills (accelerate and maintain high speed on skis, navigate obstacles and uncharted territory, use riffles to shoot high potential targets, etc.). These capabilities are needed to generate novel ideas, leverage new technologies, apply new business models, attract new customers, and exploit markets that aren’t yet mature. The risk is high, but the financial returns and benefits of first mover advantage can be great.

Innovating at the Top of Your Game

“If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.”

  • Mark Spitz, Olympic swimmer

Winning in each of these sports requires a high level of innovation fitness and a sound strategy that aligns the key tasks, structure and people of your enterprise toward a common goal. I highlighted the problems and potential solutions for an out of sync organization that is not “fit for purpose” in previous articles. These writings offer details on CO-STAR or the STEP model and the advantages of taking a systematic approach to enterprise-wide innovation.

Most enterprises are heavily oriented toward bobsledding—and must continue to be, given the risk involved in adjacent and game changing initiatives. But if that natural tendency leads to neglect of more-aggressive forms of innovation, the outcome will be a steady decline in business and relevance to customers. It is the disruptive innovations that often lead to gold medal performances and spectacular growth.

Gaining a Competitive Edge

“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”  

  • Wayne Gretzky, hockey icon (1978–1999)

It makes sense to survey the enterprise’s innovation ecosystem. A comprehensive assessment will reveal the strengths and weaknesses of current capabilities and how much time, effort, and money are allocated to the four sports. With a clear picture of the present, managers can more aggressively compete for the future.  They can determine if they are on target and adjust their strategies accordingly—usually by scaling back bobsledding innovation efforts to those focused on the highest-value customers, encouraging more figure skating and ski jumping into new markets, and creating conditions more conducive to breakthroughs solutions.

The companies we’ve found to have the strongest innovation track records can articulate a clear innovation strategy. They have put in place the tools and capabilities to manage the four innovation sports as parts of an integrated whole. They keep track of their overall medal count, and not just the wins in a single event.  By figuring out how to measure, monitor, and manage innovation fitness within an overall portfolio strategy, they can harness its energy and make it a reliable driver of success.

Innovation Self-Assessment

Act quickly, there is no time to wait, the Olympics are under way. Take this free survey to evaluate your organization’s current innovation capabilities. If you have questions about the survey or how to enhance your enterprise’s fitness level in time for the 2020 summer games, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected]

13 Things to Know About Crowdsourcing

Things to Know About CrowdsourcingUnited Way is engaged in nearly 1,800 communities  across  more than 40  countries and territories worldwide. As the largest privately-funded nonprofit in the world, United Way creates solutions that build stronger communities. United Ways are improving education, strengthening financial stability and making communities healthier. But they don’t do it alone. Nearly 2.6 million volunteers and 9.6 million donors are engaged with United Ways across the world to advance  community-based and community-led solutions.

In 2017, United Way Worldwide’s (UWW) Innovation Team worked with a group of eight United Ways to pioneer and test crowdsourcing to engage individuals digitally in a new and innovative way (especially Millennials) using IdeaScale and they learned a lot along the way. Here, in their own words, the United Way shares their thirteen things to know about crowdsourcing for other United Ways and nonprofits using crowdsourcing for the first time.

  1. A culture and organizational structure of support for innovation is a prerequisite.  Successful crowdsourcing is grounded in a strong desire and commitment to innovate.  This commitment includes a readiness to learn from shortcomings or failure.
  2. Give yourself plenty of time – three-six months – to plan your crowdsourcing campaign.
  3. Dedicate a staff person who has the time to really devote to the work.
  4. Involve everyone who has a stake or should know about it in your United Way. Get internal buy-in first, especially if you need to rely on other teams to communicate the campaign. You’ll need staff commitment to be involved and help get the word out about the crowdsourcing information.
  5. Build the internal team and get them on board so that coming up with your challenges is well supported and that the ideas coming out will be tested and implemented.
  6. Have clear, defined goals for your crowdsourcing effort, and a plan to achieve those goals.  Crowdsourcing can stand alone on its own, but if you already have other ongoing engagement efforts, incorporate it into that comprehensive engagement plan.
  7. Crowdsourcing requires a great question.  Take time to develop and test crowdsourcing questions, or challenges, before settling on one for the campaign.  But it doesn’t stop there; multi-modal and consistent engagement/moderation is key.
  8. Use multiple channels to make people aware of your crowdsourcing campaign.  Just email is not enough.  Along with an email and social media plan, use word of mouth and in-person meetings to promote your campaign.
  9. Be sure to have a communications plan that is well supported by your marketing and communications team.  It should be part of their schedule – not an add on.
  10. Manage expectations up front about what will happen to people’s ideas.
  11. Don’t be afraid if your crowdsourcing campaign doesn’t yield results immediately or in line with your expectations or hopes. Try it – at the least you will gain new knowledge of this important tool.  Be courageous and willing to learn from the crowd.
  12. Make sure you set up the feedback loop to people who submit ideas.  Let them know what’s happening and what will happen with everyone’s ideas.  Let them know their time and ideas are not a waste of their energy. 
  13. Big participation numbers are great.  But remember – it’s the quality of the experience that will build relationships. 

You can learn more about the United Way crowdsourcing initiative in the full case study here. 

How to Refine an Idea

Ideas are easy. But how do you execute them?

OK, you’ve got a great idea, but do you know how to refine an idea? It quickly becomes clear with innovation management that coming up with the idea is just the beginning of the process. How do you turn the ore of a great idea into the gold of a finished concept, product, or service?

Where Are You Starting from?

First, take a look at the gap between the idea and where you are currently. Some ideas are ambitious and may take a lot of effort for you to reach. Other ideas can be as simple as tweaking a few lines of code or putting an extra polish on a part. So, look at where you are, and then ask yourself where you have to be to pull off this idea.

What Are the Challenges?

Another factor is that even a modest idea can have challenges. Some of these will be obvious; if you’re adding a new page to your website, for example, you know you’ll have to fit it to your style guide, program the feature in JavaScript or HTML 5, and do quality assurance on it until you’re absolutely sure it’s not going to break, at least most of the time and in any reasonable test case. Sit down with the stakeholders who the idea touches, and ask them what challenges they see and ways to overcome those challenges. And don’t forget to leave room for unexpected challenges; sometimes a test of your innovation will be overcoming those, and you can’t anticipate every single problem with even simple ideas.

How do you get from concept to execution?

Who Is Your Team?

No brilliant idea goes from concept to execution without an entire team behind it. Tens or even hundreds of minds contributed their own brilliant ideas to everything from the phone in your pocket to the lunch on your plate. Your team should have the tools it needs while being nimble enough to roll with the challenges it may be faced with and should draw from those most affected by the execution of the idea.

What Are the Steps?

Another question worth asking is how many steps you see yourself taking. Bold ideas, in particular, might require a long set of milestones to reach. Say, for example, you want to turn your factory into a completely green, zero-waste facility. That’s not a matter of slapping a bunch of solar panels on the roof, planting a few bushes, and signing a few new waste contracts. You might start by examining your power needs and determining what green power you can generate on site, versus what you might want to buy with contracts. Doing away with your waste will involve looking at how you dispose of waste now, what kind of waste you need to dispose of, and which technologies make the most sense for your needs. You can absolutely reach the goal, but any task is easier broken down into a set of simple steps.

As you can see, refining ideas can be far more intensive than coming up with them. But ideas are just the beginning of innovation. It’s the execution of your ideas that separates the leaders from the imitators. When you’re ready to turn ideas to reality, contact us.

5 Innovation Engagement Best Practices

Innovation Engagement Best PracticesMore and more companies are inviting their employees to participate in company-wide ideation. Companies that do this contribute to overall innovation program health by ensuring a healthy top of the funnel stocked with ideas and allies.

But with this opportunity comes new challenges.  Not every innovation program has developed the communications skill set necessary to engage a global workforce or customer base in sharing ideas, developing ideas, and collaborating. And if you’re not investing in communications, then you’re not maximizing the value of your crowdsourced innovation community. You need people to see the value of participation, you need to show that you’re listening, you need to keep the dialogue alive. That’s when you see the real return on investment. That’s why we get a lot of questions about how to run a successful innovation engagement campaign.

So here are just a few innovation engagement best practices from the Innovation Strategy team here at IdeaScale:

  1. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE – Be sure your message is relevant to the values and priorities of your audience
  2. GET TO THE POINT – Point the ask or most important information first. Explanation and details can follow.
  3. BE TRANSPARENT – Tell them what the need to know: Who’s asking? What will you do with my ideas? What’s expected of me? What’s in it for me?
  4. KEEP IT SHORT- People have a short attention span. So rather than packing all the information into one email, break it up in to a series of smaller messages that you distribute throughout your communication campaign. If you a one-stop-shop for all information, the best place for that is likely a ‘custom page’ on your IdeaScale community rather than an email.
  5. DIVERSIFY YOUR MESSAGE – When you make things short, you can change up the message. By using different kinds of hooks you can capture a wider audience.

Learn more about how to run a successful innovation engagement campaign. Download IdeaScale’s set of outreach best practices, which includes examples from successful innovation engagement email campaigns. 


Featured IM Award Winner: The US Coast Guard

US Coast GuardWe’re not surprised that the US Coast Guard is one of our favorite stories from this year’s Innovation Management Awards. Their presentation at Open Nation this year was regarded as one of the favorite (and most useful presentations), because presenter Commander Andy Howell was great at articulating the fact that crowdsourcing communities sit at the intersection of continuous innovation and learning.

But in the case of the annual Innovation Management Awards, the Coast Guard demonstrated that they are masters of process: of engaging their workforce to share ideas, of identifying potential opportunities and making those ideas visible at the highest levels of the organization. Here are just a few of the process best practices embodied by the US Coast Guard:

  • Ideas were reviewed at several different levels by leadership and domain experts not just for immediate applicability, but also for system-wide applicability. This meant not just the transparency offered by crowdsourcing at large, but also allowed team leaders to socialize and evaluate ideas as they were moved along and start to gain traction even before they’re implemented.
  • Ideas could move laterally to other applicable campaigns if the ideas were better fits or had bigger opportunities. For example, many hurricane campaign submissions were transferred directly over to another campaign running concurrently: the annual research and development idea submission.
  • Processing ideas meant not just implementing ideas, but turning those ideas into opportunities for learning. As an idea progressed, it was important to track themes so that the Coast Guard could keep these topics in mind for future campaigns and challenges in their innovation community.

To learn more about how the US Coast Guard is connecting continuous innovation and learning, download their case study detailing their process and implemented ideas.  It includes diagrams of their process, as well as ideas that were reviewed by leadership.


What to Do with an Idea Ahead of Its Time

There are no bad ideas, but there are ideas you may not be in a place to pull off.

We’ve all heard the stories. A teenager walks into a record company in the 1970s with a brilliant idea to sell music over connected computers. Microsoft pioneered the smartwatch before the iPhone was a glimmer in Steve Jobs’ eye. There are just simply ideas that are so advanced, so brilliant, that they turn out to be in the door too early. So what do you do with an idea that’s ahead of its time?

The Orphaned Idea

The first rule of idea management is that there’s no shortage of brilliant raw ideas, and also that there are no new ideas. This is why Star Trek was able to anticipate the flip phone and the visual medical readout years or even decades before they were actually available to the public. But, of course, Captain Kirk’s neat little communicator didn’t have to work. Therein lies the tricky part.

The first step with a bold idea is to figure out if it’s even feasible in the first place. Depending on your position, “feasible” may have different meanings. NASA can feasibly put a man on the moon; a two-person LLC probably will need to put that in the long-term goals folder. But it’s fair to ask: Can it work? Or can you do the work to make it possible?

Secondly, there’s the question of whether it’s already been invented. Often what can seem like a brilliant idea has already been done, you just haven’t heard about it. Google Glass was only novel if you weren’t familiar with the many industrial “mixed reality” systems already prototyped or in use.

Finally, there’s the question of market, and how you’re positioned. Some “futuristic” technologies found a market, just not the market they were sold to. In the ’90s and ’00s, virtual reality was hugely popular with the military, architects, scientists, and other industrial clients. It was just nobody wanted it on the consumer level at the time. If an idea has value in a market you’re not in, can you break in?

Ideas are easy. Execution, less so.

So What If The Answer’s No?

Often, in its raw form, the answer is “no,” this big, bold ambitious idea just won’t work, at least for now. But that doesn’t mean you should discard it.

Instead, start by scaling it back until it makes sense for you, at least in the rough form. Maybe you can’t build a moon rocket, but perhaps you can put a robot on the moon. Or just build the robot. Or just write the software for the robot that someone else will build when you pay them to do it.

Consider the implications of what you’re building. Often the greatest innovations come from pursuing another idea entirely, and stumbling over something else, or inventing something that happens to solve a problem, while doing it. Google Glass is a case in point: Consumers may not need or want a $1500 device on their faces, but it’s come in handy on an industrial level.

Practicality should be a factor in idea management, but it shouldn’t stifle your ideas. If an idea is ahead of its time, use some common sense and work towards it. After all, it won’t be ahead of its time forever. For more on innovation, join the IdeaScale community.

Overcoming the Barriers to Innovation in Healthcare

Overcoming the Barriers to Innovation in HealthcareOf all the industries poised to improve with innovation, none are more promising than healthcare. However, many organizations struggle to move forward due to a lack of strategy and a lack of employee and leadership buy-in. Here are jut a few ways to address those issues as you work on overcoming the barriers to innovation in healthcare:

Establish a Strategy

This first step is perhaps the most difficult, but also the most valuable. Establishing a strategy means setting expectations, defining metrics, assigning responsibility (if everyone’s responsible, no one’s responsible), defining a process, and more. It also means familiarizing yourself with the regulations and rules when it comes to new ideas. It’s also not a bad time to revisit values and mission so that you can align the problems that you want to solve and the solutions that you find to your overall organizational goals. With established goals in place and a defined strategy for innovation, your healthcare group will be in a far better position to curate ideas, evaluate those ideas, develop them further and allow them to flourish.

Make Innovation a Shared Responsibility

Innovation shouldn’t be the realm of the elite – don’t be trapped by your own department or even your own industry: look everywhere for new ideas. Also look for ideas that are already successful in other parts of the business and see if they can’t be rolled out elsewhere. If everyone is in charge of finding and sharing great ideas- the likelihood of you finding them is far greater. But if innovation is everyone’s responsibility then you need to honor that commitment by setting aside some budget for implementing new ideas and designating a point person who can steward all those new ideas through to success.

Deliver on Ideas Across Multiple Horizons

Not every idea is transformative. Some save a few minutes on the hospital floor, some create a slightly improved patient experience and you should pay attention to those ideas, as well. The worst thing that you can do is ignore ideas. So get started on those easy-to-implement, quick wins right away to build credibility and traction. You’ll find that when you start working on those transformative concepts that you’ll have marshalled far more resources to your side.

Continue to Improve

The barriers to get started on a crowdsourced innovation program are actually quite low. But you’ll learn a lot just by starting a program. Don’t be afraid to change, update, and improve. In fact, you must. Innovation is an agile process. You’ll learn a lot along the way. So change your goals, shift your process, update your communications strategy, invite new people to participate, re-launch and always find new ways to make a difference.

To learn more about innovation in the healthcare sector, download our white paper on the subject.