A non-monetary incentive you may not have considered

non-monetary incentive


Incentives and rewards are paramount to the success of an open innovation or crowdsourcing campaign. The crowd, judges, evaluators, managers need a reason to invest their time, energy, and creativity into submitting and evaluating ideas, and voting and commenting on ideas.  And the reason to participate need not be the promise of winning a monetary and material prize. The opportunity to be more effective in your job is a non-monetary incentive that should not be underestimated.

How a non-monetary incentive enriched a professional life

This year, I volunteered in a personal capacity with the MIT Climate CoLab to organize and orchestrate an ideation contest on the Climate CoLab open innovation platform. The contest centered on sourcing ideas for how to get people to change their behavior to combat climate change. Part of my responsibility was to enlist prominent experts (academic leaders and CEOs of relevant organizations) as judges for the contest. In light of their many priorities, the significance of their commitment to serve as a judge was monumental.

The week before the judging period opened, a colleague told me about Root Solutions, a non-profit organization that centers on behavior change for improving the environment. It was immediately apparent that I needed to enlist their CEO, Nya Van Leuvan, as a judge for the Shifting Behavior contest. I emailed her that week and she was on board the day before the intensive judging period began. Just in time!

I recognized the significant lift this was for Nya to fit this into her busy schedule on such short notice, so I hoped that it was well worth her while.  

When I convened the judges on a phone call to select the semifinalists, I was delighted to hear Nya convey how appreciative she was of her experience serving as a judge in this contest. The exact reason for her appreciation, Nya explained, was that the judging experience gave her critical insight into to how a certain population of environmentalists interpret the concept of behavior change and how to apply behavior change strategies to their work. By better understanding how this population thinks about the problem at hand, Nya can refine Root Solution’s services, tools, and resources to better inform and educate this population. In short, the reward for participating as a judge was the valuable insight she received that helped her do her own job better.

How to frame non-monetary incentives in the workplace

When you design and pitch your open innovation program to your colleagues, it is advantageous to highlight how their participation in the community aligns with their larger goal of success in the workplace:

  • Their participation will help them collaborate with their colleagues more efficiently and effectively
  • The outcomes of the community will help them produce key deliverables more efficiently and effectively
  • Browsing ideas lends them insights or inspiration relevant to their daily job
  • The community offers a platform where they can solve a nagging problem
  • Participation in the community lends them an opportunity to gain recognition in the workplace

Help your audience understand how the open innovation program aligns with their overall professional objectives. It could be as simple as “Open innovation makes your job easier!”

For more information on non-monetary incentives, see Creative Rewards and The Candle Experiment.

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 Whitney Bernstein, Innovation Architect at IdeaScale.

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