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!

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