solver communityA solver community is a network of skilled professionals that work together to solve a problem or overcome a challenge facing your company.  Unlike a traditional research and development (R&D) department, a solver community is made up of people outside of the organization or business they are helping. Here are 6 reasons to use a solver community for your business:

1.     Cultivates new ideas and revenue

The most obvious benefit of using a solver community is the abundance of new ideas.  In turn these new ideas create an opportunity for more revenue. The individuals that make a solver community are innovators in their own right, but they welcome new challenges to help your company grow. In 2005, GE launched Ecoimagination. This solver community is committed to “technology solutions that save money and reduce environmental impact for its customers and GE’s own operations.” Ecoimagination has generated more than 200 billion in revenue and a 31% decrease in GHG emissions.

2.     Creates Community

A solver community is first and foremost a community. It extends far beyond your brick and mortar office and into a massive virtual network of forward thinkers. These communities provide a rare opportunity for people from all parts of the world and all disciplines to engage, learn and work together. Companies like Starbucks use a solver community to invite product, experience and community involvement ideas from their customer base. This type of forum allows for dialog to take place that is invested in the future of your product and brand.

3.     Avoids Stagnancy

A solver community provides a variety of new approaches to old challenges that face your business. This new network may vary in skill level and skill set, which opens new pathways to problem solving. This melting pot of solvers forces challenges to be approached from new angles, whereas a R&D department is made up of one team with highly specified training. The risk of becoming stagnant in your problem solving is greatly reduced when you enlist the help of a solver community. In 2007, Dell launched the Dell Idea Storm. This platform invited ideas from the public to tackle Dell’s most common challenges. This network of solvers was made up of any user or customer of Dell regardless of their computer science background. Dell was able to overcome hardware and software challenge, as well as common customer service issues.

4.     Progressive Problem-Solving

A successful business is built on its ability to anticipate the needs of its customers. These needs vary from generation to generation. One way to adapt to this ever-changing market is to adopt an innovative method of development. Enlisting a solver community to help your business will help it to be recognized as a progressive company that is open to adapting to its customers’ needs. Quirky is one example of a forward-thinking brand that uses a solver community to create new products. They invite individuals to submit inventions based on their own their own household needs. From there, a team of influencers help to shape the product into its final version. This model allows for out-of-the-box thinking to be further refined by a group of solvers with a similar vision.

5.     Better Outcome

Studies show that businesses that use a solver community are more likely to solve challenges that face their company than those who rely solely on a traditional R&D department. Even in highly-specialized areas such as biopharma there is room collaborative innovation between competitors. “Drugs sourced with open innovation are three times more likely to be successful,” according to a report by Deloitte Consulting.

6.     A New Learning Platform

Using a solver community is a wonderful opportunity for learning even within well-established and highly recognized organizations. The National and Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is one example of that. The head of the Human Health and Performance Directorate at NASA, Dr. Jeffrey Davis, leads a team that is tasked with solving human health issues in outer space. In an interview with Knowledge, the Wharton School newspaper, NASA recognized that “Utilizing multiple crowd-sourcing platforms, Davis has proven to colleagues throughout NASA that, sometimes, the answers to the space agency’s toughest problems can come from people who have no experience with space travel at all.” These ideas allowed Davis’ team to work with novel ideas and learn new ways to approach old problems. The process of using a solver community also exposed them to new organizations and individuals with the tools they needed to solve their biggest challenges.