Last week was IdeaScale’s third annual Open Nation summit – our in-person user conference where innovation practitioners from all around the globe share their stories and best practices. It’s a great opportunity not just to learn from some of the leading innovators globally, but also a great chance to connect and have fun. In the next few weeks, we’ll upload the presentation content from the day, which includes some great thoughts from the United States Coast Guard, IKEA, and others, but in the meantime, please enjoy some of these key takeaways that surfaced over the course of two days:
Not every problem is a problem to be solved by crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is powerful and when you’ve had some success with it, you want to adopt it in other places, as well. In other words, when you have a crowdsourcing hammer, sometimes you start thinking that every problem looks like a nail. But crowdsourcing is a tool for specific challenges. And it has multi-faceted benefits (from increasing empathy and positive sentiment, to developing truly novel approaches to solving a problem), but if what you need is some straightforward market research, you could still use a survey or if you’re looking to collaborate in a small group setting, the in-person meeting is still a great tool.
Innovation processes may differ, but they share some of the same qualities. Most start with ideation and connecting the dots, then they move through a period of development and alignment, and then they’re prioritized. Different organizations name and order stages slightly differently but everything moves between periods of broad brainstorming to concentrated decision making – sometimes in a cyclical manner.
Having defined criteria is a good thing, not a limiting factor. Innovators that outlined key success criteria from the start actually saw more creative ideas and more ideas that went all the way to implementation. Knowing what you’re looking for and what you can deliver on helps with buy-in and breeds trust with those that participate in a crowdsourced innovation system.
Innovation leaders are great facilitators and connectors. You don’t need to be the person with the big idea in order to be a leader in innovation. What you need to be able to do is draw connections between different idea fragments, projects, people, programs, and continuously check-in to see things through. The path isn’t always straightforward, but those that can deliver on new ideas will eventually be leaders in their organization.