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.


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