IDEASCALE BLOG

Tag: engagement

Customers We Love

Customers We Love

One of the best things about working at IdeaScale is the variety of customers, use cases, and success stories that you hear about. But recently, our work with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation reminded us of some of our favorite types of customers. Here are some of the reasons that CEC embodies these qualities.

Socially-Responsible. The Commission for Environmental Cooperation fosters conservation, protection and enhancement of the North American environment for the benefit of present and future generations. We feel really gratified when customers care about making the world a better place. That’s why we’ve loved working with customers like the Department of Energy’s Sunshot initiative and the DREAMS Challenge.

Creative. CEC didn’t limit their outreach to the standard playbook. In addition to press releases, videos, emails, and social media promotion, they also placed phone calls to universities and innovation hubs to garner interest. That’s why we’re excited by companies that find new ways to connect, evaluate, and nurture great ideas.

Forward Thinking. The winners of the CEC innovation challenge had some truly novel ideas like using food waste to create high protein foods and convert plastic into sustainable concrete. Without idea management solutions, these ideas sometimes go unsaid and undiscovered and they make the team at IdeaScale truly excited when those dreams get realized.

Great Networkers. There were multiple opportunities to connect with the CEC challenge, including an in-person mentoring part of the process.  Teams that combine online and offline connection generally have the richest sets of results. That’s why Scentsy always invites engagement at their annual event and Dick’s Sporting Goods had an in-person component as part of their launch.

Don’t get me wrong: we love all our customers and most of them are great at all these things. But it’s really awesome to see one story encapsulate some of those values that define our work.

To learn more about the CEC Youth Innovation Challenge, download the case study here.

Purpose as a Way of Business

way of businessPurpose offers a distinct advantage to organizations that have a clear mission and work to serve that mission. Not only does organizational purpose build clarity and drive company direction, but having a clear company purpose also turns company employees into better employees. Millennials are more likely to stay at a company when they have a strong connection to their employer’s purpose. Employees feel more engaged when they feel a sense of purpose in the workplace. They also do better work, have a higher sense of well-being and become brand ambassadors for you.

However, that sense of purpose can’t be faked. It must be genuine. A good place to start is an investigation of your core values. This Harvard Business Review article discusses the differences between true core values and other values (like aspirational or pay-to-play values) and encourages organizations to put those values to work – make them mean something. Do your core values serve your purpose and are you finding ways to live those core values, communicate them and your purpose to your workforce every day?

Organizations that are good at the above are probably ready for the most powerful step in a purpose-driven workplace: engaging all employees in the service of that purpose. That means inviting employees to share their ideas on how to best help organization’s meet that mission regardless of where they sit in a company. If an employee feels that their ideas and ego are intrinsically a part of the organization’s mission they start to feel and deliver all those workplace benefits that we discussed: well-being, passion, commitment to their job. That’s why purpose is a way of business – not just something you do for marketing splash.

So how do you do that? You find a way to ask for ideas transparently and company-wide and you make those ideas a part of the story of your organization’s success. To learn more about the purpose-driven workforce, download our complimentary infographic on the subject.

Lessons Learned About Innovation Communications from the City of Calgary

calgary-featureIf you’ve been following IdeaScale’s Innovation Management Awards, you know that this year saw some really thrilling innovation come from some unexpected places. In fact, government is sometimes seen as one of the least innovative industries, but some of our best stories this year came from the government. In this case, the City of Calgary was a leader in generating engagement with their innovation program. But how did they do it? In short, they used multiple channels to communicate with their audience, they empowered their moderators to keep the conversation going, and ideas were constantly being trafficked.

But first a little about their program: myCityInnovation is an internal program which is part of the broader City of Calgary innovation program ‘Civic Innovation YYC.’ myCityInnovation initially invited the City’s 12,000 “wired” employees to share, collaborate, and test new ideas for improving City services.

Well, when myCityInnovation launched in May of 2016, Calgary didn’t just send out an email blast and call it good. They launched a full internal multi-channel marketing strategy. This included nine different channels which included in-person events, meetings, blog posts, newsletters, social media, print media, video, website advertising, on top of the tried and true email.

But that was just to invite people to participate. After members started participating, Calgary continued the conversation by helping their moderators respond to ideas. This meant that advisors and leaders were encouraged to participate, add comments, and provide feedback. In this way, all ideators knew that their ideas were valued.

Finally, ideas were intentionally moved on a “semi-regular” basis from Ideate to Assessment with the goal of establishing a predictable rhythm for the community. This is perhaps the most important engagement tactic you can use: responsiveness. If participants see that real ideas can gain traction (even if they’re not their own) they will develop faith in the program and employee satisfaction increases.

To learn more about the City of Calgary and their myCityInnovation program, download their case study. 

Innovation Management Award Spotlight: City of Calgary

calgary-coverAt IdeaScale, we host the annual innovation management awards in order to honor the accomplishments of some truly groundbreaking organizations, but also so that some of our smartest clients can share their best practices with others. This year, we honored the accomplishments of the City of Calgary, Oak Ridge National Laboratories, and the National Cancer Institute as well as runner’s up.

We  invited our winners to answer a few interview questions and we’re pleased that the City of Calgary had some great advice and answers to share:

IdeaScale: Why is innovation vital to your organization?

City of Calgary: There are three reasons. First, given the current economic environment, there’s no better time to focus on ways to work together, improve existing City services, and better meet the emerging needs of Calgarians.  Building upon previous programs dedicated to cutting red tape, it is believed that innovation will help us be less risk averse, more entrepreneurial, more creative, and promote Calgary as a great place to make a living and a great place to make a life.

Secondly, technology is changing the game for cities. Entire industries are being disrupted and local governments are not immune if they wish to remain relevant and competitive. The gap between citizen needs and the ability for cities to meet them will only widen as the pace of change increases. Our team recognizes this and feels an innovation practice is vital to sense and adapt to emerging trends and technologies.

Thirdly, Calgary is a diverse city. The knowledge of our citizens and staff is a vast and invaluable resource that is vital to helping solve some of our biggest challenges. It is important that we find new ways of reaching our staff colleagues who work ‘on the ground’ as well as citizens who bring new insights and connections into our communities.  Innovation is an important tool to uncover new ideas, to collaborate, and foster a culture where finding better, easier ways of doing things is explored and celebrated.

IS: What’s the most important piece of advice that you can give to someone launching an IdeaScale community?

City of Calgary: While IdeaScale is a powerful tool, consider resisting the urge to incorporate every feature right from the start. Keep the initial barriers to entry low, and allow your process to adapt and grow along with the experience and sophistication of the community members. We’ve found that sometimes the process can be messy (in a good way) and there may not always be a 1:1 relationship between an idea and an outcome. The idea may be part of a broader theme, or it is in the interaction between ideas that the true insight arrives. Also, it is never too early to test your overall assumptions about what people think your community is about and what they think they can do. Based on these learnings, adjust your written copy as well as the site’s ‘languages and strings’ to create a better fit with the audience.

IS: What are you most proud of in your innovation program?

City of Calgary: To date, it has been extremely gratifying to connect staff from across the various departments of the City and it has enabled them to understand campaigns (we call them ‘challenges’) as a new way of working together. Small ideas when viewed individually become big opportunities when viewed collectively. I would consider our work internally with the staff community as a ‘proof of concept’ and we’re now looking forward to citizens joining us in these conversations and this new way of working.

It has also been great to receive some of the thoughts and insights from our colleagues on the efforts to date – here’s one example:

“I LOVE, the new site.  I was a big fan of the Cut Red Tape initiative out of the Mayor’s office and this Innovation site takes it to the next level. Just a phenomenal idea, and the site looks to be a great execution of that.  Really well done, I can’t wait to see where it goes!”

Another colleague who is new to the organization expressed that the innovation program has helped him feel connected to The City as an organization and suggested this program will help recruit new talent who would have otherwise not considered The City as place to make a career.

Learn more about our award winners here.

Expert Interview Series: Jennifer Riggins of Happy Melly On Growing Your Brand Using Collaboration And Innovation

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Jennifer Riggins is the marketeer at Happy Melly, a virtual global business network dedicated to making happiness at work the new norm.

Henry Ford once said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Happy Melly is set up with the belief that happier employees are more productive, better able to achieve goals and be successful. To start, how does the happiness of each component of a team contribute to the whole working effectively?

Don’t love the word “component” kicking off the first question – we aren’t talking about Ford’s pieces on an assembly line that have mostly been replaced by robots, we’re talking about human beings, usually working in knowledge and creative-based jobs, albeit toward a common goal.

Happy workers aren’t just more productive, but they are more loyal to team and business, more innovative in an environment that lets them feel safe to experiment and risk failure, and they are more collaborative. Bringing a group of these happy individuals together toward a common goal makes them more likely to achieve or surpass those goals.

Happy Melly also allies with social entrepreneurs, to increase the cooperative impact, as well as giving value, attention, and credibility to each component of a partnership. To start, can you talk a bit about what you mean by social entrepreneurs? How do you decide on who you’re going to work with?

A social entrepreneur is anyone who works toward affecting social change, solving problems – macro and micro – and making a difference in at least one life. One doesn’t have to own her or his own business – it’s anyone who wants to affect this change and disrupt and improve, even within the confines of a large corporation.

Anyone is welcome to join Happy Melly as a supporter – all we ask for is a small annual fee based on the resident country’s income. For a Happy Melly funder, which involves a much more significant financial and time commitment, we do have requirements, which are evaluated by current funders. Funders come from businesses that have a clearly defines purpose that aligns with Happy Melly’s own vision of happiness at work, and that looks to expand their products or services globally and transparently. Of course, these funders want to become an active part of invigorating our growing community with experiments and feedback.
How can creative collaboration help “value, attention, and credibility” to the parts of a partnership? What have been some particularly successful collaborations you’ve seen or taken part in?

I can’t talk too much about collaboration among supporters – all we know is that 55 percent of conversations within our more than 600-person Slack community happen in private message which we think implies a lot of collaboration. In the shared Slack channels, we also see a core group of members constantly openly sharing experiments and offering feedback. One supporter collaboration that has come out of our community is the Agile Uprising which looks to build a community around the agile mindset and includes four Happy Melly members as founders.

One area where we see truly visible collaboration is among our Funders. This much smaller group acts as a sort of startup incubator. With a similar general goal of increasing happiness at work, there is a lot of support and overlap, with Lisette’s Collaboration Superpowers for remote working, Jurgen’s fourth book Managing for Happiness and the Management 3.0 brand, Jason’s Lean Change Management book and workshops, and Learning 3.0’s books and workshops, among our long-term funders, each bouncing ideas off each other and sharing experiences. And then the customers of these brands are then able to pick and choose from the array of the solutions that work for them.

One area where I’ve seen the most successful collaboration among Funders is Sergey. I’ve seen him spending the last couple years traveling the world, bouncing ideas off of members, until he found a void in workshop management software. Because of this, he was able to build his own company Workshop Butler which solves this problem and three of the other funders were some of its first customers, providing candid feedback in return for helping to steer the product roadmap.

Oliver Wendell Holmes once joked, “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.” Can you talk about how collaboration can help test an idea, and how it can help make an idea superior to the first iteration?

At Happy Melly, we’re first and foremost about feedback – and certainly it’s true that two heads are better than one. Most of our interaction is in a massive Slack community with more than 100 topic-related channels, ranging from agile and lean change to remote working to more personal ones like family, vulnerability and general pursuits of happiness. Members usually choose a channel where they’ve gained confidence with the members to talk about obstacles they are meeting at work, broach their first idea of how to overcome them, and to ask for advice. This sort of working out loud allows ideas to mature, experiments to go on, and then other feedback cycles to continue as updates are shared.

We also hold Weekly Happiness Challenges, which has one or two members leading an experiment and discussion around a specific topic a week. They can be smaller challenges that run throughout the week, like on remote working or personal branding, or they can be big undertakings that can take longer than a week, like abstaining from negativity on social media or gratitude journaling.

Happy Melly have a bunch of thought and workplace experiments listed on your website, regarding productivity, collaboration, and workplace happiness. What are one or two experiments someone might try to start steering their workplace towards a more collaborative environment?

One run by Agile Coach and Supporter Josh Briggs. He challenged us to be vulnerable via the following experimental options:

    • Before heading into the office or a meeting, encourage yourself to let go of worrying about what others think of you and to share one genuine thought you have.
    • When someone ask you how you are doing, tell them how you are actually doing. Do not respond with the canned, “I’m fine and you?”
    • When you need help, let someone know you’re struggling and ask for it.

Trust and vulnerability are intrinsically linked – you can’t build trust with your teammates until you are vulnerable yourself. I think this is why Josh’s experimental week just this December sparked the most discussion we’ve ever had on our Slack community that continues today.

How can collaboration help workers feel more engaged, and more a part of a company and a community? What difference can that make, both for the employees and the company?

Working in silos is proven to be unsuccessful. If we are just cogs in a chain, sure it may work, but if you want to create a productive environment that’s constantly innovating and improving, we have to work together. Collaborating toward a common goal does make us feel more engaged and a part of something bigger than ourselves. As talked about before, it makes us feel more likely to experiment. Also only 12 percent of people change jobs because of money – while 80 or so percent of HR reps believe that’s the reason – that means creating a sense of loyalty through collaboration is key to your company’s growth and success.

Collaboration offers many different viewpoints from lots of different people. This can offer unique insight into what people really need and want. Can you talk about how crowdsourcing can be a source of ideas for future projects?

For sure crowdsourcing ideas is valuable. Many of our members are coaches and team leaders, so they will present a challenge and ‘idea-source’ solutions, which then other members will also test out. And on a team, we are more and more moving away from the top-down mandate of the Waterfall method of massive project management.

Instead, everyone is responsible for her or his smaller piece, which contributes to the whole. Similarly, everyone can express ideas and opinions, which can then be either used at the moment or put on ice for future experimentation. As organizations become increasingly collaborative and flat, ‘idea-sourcing’ becomes revenue driving.

Likewise, how can having a concrete goal help a company become extra streamlined and efficient? What could be some results of this new efficiency?

Concrete goals and idea-sourcing aren’t mutually exclusive. A company can and should have goals that creates a sense of unity and transparency, but then crowdsourcing ideas can be used to help achieve that goal. But certainly goals don’t make companies more streamlined and efficient – people and processes do. However, offering attainable shared goals is one way of motivating people to work harder.

Even if a company doesn’t already have a huge customer base, there’s still a lot of ways to crowdsource ideas and inspiration. Do you ever monitor social media and the web to keep a finger on the pulse? What are some methods a company might use social media or automated alerts to monitor new industries or trends?

Sure, we use tools like Google Analytics and Hootsuite to monitor mentions of our brand. And certainly social media is a great way to crowdsource ideas for blogposts and experiments. And of course drawing on real life contemporary events via the news for examples of old school versus innovative companies always gives us things to talk about within our community.

But if you have a small customer base, you need to just be out there – online and in person – to find out who your perspective customers are and asking them what problems they are looking to solve. Social media is just one place you can ask these business-saving questions.

Crowdsourcing and collaboration is a great way to spread the word on a brand, without being pushy or spending tons of money on questionable advertising. How can a great crowdsourcing campaign help get the name out there, even more so than traditional advertising or marketing? And what are some of the benefits of the philanthropic nature of spreading the word via doing good deeds?

First, it’s about creating valuable content that makes want to share it – it’s the basis of social media success. And then it’s about making the ask – having the guts to say we need something and we were wondering if you would share it. Of course, that means prioritizing sharing first other people’s work before you start asking them.

Want to connect and collaborate with you workforce? Start your own IdeaScale community today!

One More Week to Submit to the Innovation Management Awards

innovation-management-deadlineAs we wrap up this election cycle, another deadline is right around the corner – the deadline for submissions to the 2016 Innovation Management Awards!

If you’re still debating whether you should submit, or if you’ve already submitted your organization and are awaiting the results, here are some of the lessons that we’ve learned from past Innovation Management Award winners that you can take to heart for the future.

Have a Plan

When it comes to having an effective, efficient innovation campaign, arguably the number one most important aspect is having a plan, and have that plan developed prior to beginning the campaign. This means thinking through all aspects of engagement, moderation, enactment, tracking, rewards if applicable. How are you going to get your employees and/or consumers involved in the campaign? How are you going to sift through innovation ideas once people start suggesting them? How are you going to decide on winning idea(s)? How are you going to track the implementation and enactment of ideas, to see exactly how effective they are? How are you going to reward participants for their participation? These, and many more, are all questions that should be considered and answered before you even start a campaign. As we’ve seen, when you have strategies in place from the start, you’re helping yourself succeed.

All three of our winners from the 2014 Innovation Management Awards had exemplary plans in place for their campaigns, specifically with relation to social media outreach and engagement. The Department of Labor thought through three specific phases of their campaign, and the latter two phases including utilizing social media as a way of examining the accessibility of that media. The Department of Energy used their Twitter account to garner approximately 11% of the Sunshot Catalyst campaign’s members. Scentsy used social media to promote successfully completed ideas, in turn encouraging the community to get involved and be involved in the future.

Make It Easy

Another important facet of having a successful campaign is how easy you make it for your community to participate. This goes somewhat into having a plan – if you’ve thought ahead well enough, you will hopefully have thought about the path of least resistance for those that you would most like to hear from. If you’re attempting to engage employees, perhaps set aside a half an hour every day specifically for employees to create and share ideas. If you’re hoping to engage a wider community, maybe make a “cheat sheet” of step-by-step instructions for participation. If you have satellite locations for your organization, create easily shareable communications for them to pass along to their individual communities. Innovators are more likely to be involved if they can spend their actual time innovating and surfacing ideas rather than struggling with the logistics of being involved.

Focus on Inclusivity and Transparency

As in many areas of life, we seem to be striving more and more for inclusivity and transparency, perhaps related to our continual struggle to remedy past inequities and prevent them in the future. Whatever the reason, it’s a step in the right direction. This focus is a commonality amongst our winners, and is a good indicator that you might be a powerful candidate for the Innovation Management Awards. All three of our 2015 Innovation Management Award winners focused on these two important attributes for their campaigns. Both the Making All Voices Count and Innovate Your State campaigns were looking to engage citizens in ways that could make their experiences better, specifically in ways that could increase representation and government accountability and transparency. The Western Australia Police found that the transparency during their process increased participation, even when that transparency involved constructive criticism.

So if you have a plan, make it easy, and focus on inclusivity and transparency, you’re a perfect fit. Be sure to submit your organization to the 2016 Innovation Management Awards by Friday, November 18. You can find more information and enter your submission here.

Innovation Management Awards 2016 Are Open!

TScreen Shot 2016-09-05 at 9.48.56 PMhink you have a unique and successful strategy for engaging with your community? Or perhaps you feel like you’ve cornered the market on moderating your community and the resulting ideas? Maybe you have a truly groundbreaking new product or process?

If any of these fit with your organization this year, enter your team for the 2016 Innovation Management Awards! Now in their fourth year, the Awards cover three categories: Best Innovation (awarded for best new product, process or market shift); Best Moderation Strategy (awarded for most efficient and effective moderation for refining and evaluating ideas); and Best Engagement Strategy (awarded for high level of engagement through unique methods). Other characteristics of winning campaigns might be quantifiable impacts, unique tactics, and creativity.

Previous winners have made strides in innovation and best practices in a wide range of fields. The 2015 Innovation Award winners—the Western Australia Police, Innovate Your State and Making All Voices Count—were leaders in their fields; all three pushed for inclusivity, transparency, and an increased quality of life. Other previous winners have focused on public policy, government, the environment, customer service, and technology.

In addition to all of those amazing prizes awaiting the winners, former Innovation Management Award recipients have gone on to garner further glory and acclaim for their winning programs. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Sunshot Catalyst Initiative, our 2014 Innovation Management Award winner for Best Moderation Strategy, went on to win the 2015 ISPIM (International Society for Professional Innovation Management) Grand Prize. The Grand Prize competition was launched in early 2015 specifically to recognize areas of innovation that are usually not as touted as the actual innovations themselves, including moderation and engagement. It all started with an IdeaScale community and an incredibly thorough plan for moderating ideas.

2016 Innovation Management Award winners in each category will receive an Apple Watch, a discount on their 2017 subscription, a VIP pass to the 2017 Open Nation Conference, a free IdeaBuzz challenge, and a promotional PR packet.

Be sure to enter your submissions by Friday, November 18, 2016. Winners will be announced in December 2016. For specific rules and eligilbity, and to apply, visit https://www.ideascale.com/2016-innovation-management-awards/ .

3 tips for using IdeaScale’s free crowdsourcing platform

free crowdsourcing platform

 

Working on the Customer Success team, I watch people create dozens of new IdeaScale communities every day. Seemingly overnight, many of them flourish with new users and new posted ideas, often faster than they know what to do with. But in contrast, I also notice communities that struggle to gain traction, only to end up abandoned (queue tumbleweed imagery).

Here are 3 tips to give new users, like you, the best chance at a successful IdeaScale community:

1. Visit our library and read free case studies and resources

All IdeaScale customers start their journey with a question or problem they want to ask the crowd. In our case study library, we have nearly 50 customer case studies that highlight some of the challenges they faced and how each one ultimately reached their goals. Each story is unique and carefully chosen to be featured in our library. Hopefully more than one will provide inspiration for your journey. If you’re looking for an example that you don’t see in our library, please don’t hesitate to ask. Our innovation experts are here to help!

2. Craft a compelling incentive to increase participation

A cash prize is probably the first thing that comes to mind, but from our experience it’s rarely the best option. In many cases, cash prizes can attract less than ideal participants that value winning over participation. My colleague Whitney Bernstein gives an example of a non-monetary incentive here. A carefully crafted incentive that focus on encouraging participation is what I recommend. You never know where the best answer will come from, so participation is key to the success of your community. For more ideas, here is a list of options to consider.

3. Reach out for free support

Live Chat Support is available 24/7 anywhere you’re visiting IdeaScale.com. We pride ourselves on offering live chat support whenever you’re faced with a support issue on our site. A real human being is available to assist if you experience a technical issue or if you just need help finding something on our website!

Our dream is to have every IdeaScale community flourish with an abundance of users and ideas by providing all the resources users need to achieve their goals. If there is something missing that you’d like to see, please let me know by sending an email to je[email protected]

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 Jeff Wong, Customer Success Advocate at IdeaScale.

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.

Where to Look for Sustainability Solutions

erm sustainabilityIn today’s world, the market is more competitive than almost ever before. Consumers have so many options when it comes to goods and services that they focus more on the “best of” above all else. In order to maintain sustainability as a business, companies must be adaptable and flexible in an ever-changing, adapting marketplace. Whereas new ideas used to be generated and investigated by specialized research and development teams, companies have realized that there is perhaps a better pool of innovators which they can tap into: all of their employees.

As is true with finding creative solutions to problems, employees are best equipped to recommend suggestions for potential offerings to clients. Environmental Resources Management (ERM) is a leading global provider of environmental, health, safety, risk, social consulting services and sustainability related services. They recently implemented their Innovation Tournament, engaging employees around the world in recommending potential expansions of offerings. ERM had a 69% participation rate, with more than 3,000 employees contributing and 465 new ideas presented. Of these 465 ideas, 25 were presented as shortlist options, eventually whittled down to five finalists, and a final winning suggestion to be implemented. ERM is holding onto all of the suggestions, though, and keeping them in mind for future implementation.

While staying competitive in the marketplace is obviously very important, another of the most significant aspects of sustainability, that of internal innovation and efficiency, is often overlooked. It’s easy to only focus on being external-facing in your innovation because that seems to have the most immediate impact on an organization; however, if you don’t have the internal infrastructure to back up those new innovations, or you are always stagnating with clunky, dated systems of accomplishing things, you’re not likely to make it very far on external innovations alone. ERM realized this was true, and though their Innovation Tournament was primarily focused on market-facing ideas, it was also open to suggestions on how to improve internal processes as well.

Ultimately, employees of ERM—or employees of any organization—are best positioned to suggest possible solutions because they have the ingredients for successful innovation: the institutional knowledge (to realize what may be feasible, to remain on brand while also providing expansions, etc.) and the investment in the organization to care about finding solutions.

To find out more about sustainability, and how ERM is tapping into employee knowledge for solutions, click here to download our recent case study.