Tag: engagement

How Has Idea Management Changed Since IdeaScale Launched?

IdeaScale was recently interviewed as part of the 97th Floor Mastermind Series. The questions ranged across a variety of subjects like how we hired our first few team members to our thoughts about the future of innovation management. But some of the questions made us think about how idea management has changed since we launched. Remember when the app looked like this?

how has idea management changed



Looking backwards made us think of same major milestones about where innovation management software has been (and where it might be going)… So what’s changed?

Engagement Features. We realized pretty early on that if we’re going to have a crowdsourcing tool, we needed to have some powerful embedded functionality to get people onto our app – that’s why we’ve created social integrations, email tools, multiple notifications, multi-language translation settings and more.

Integrations. As soon as we started working with enterprise organizations, we realized that our tool was going to sit in a robust universe of software solutions and we needed to be able to connect to them, share information, and add value to existing processes, which is why we’ve created so many out-of-the-box integrations with SSO software, project management solutions, data solutions, Google Analytics and much, much more. We found that this amplifies our capabilities and our customer success.

Later Stage Idea Development. This is why we built our Stages. Sure, we started out focusing on posting ideas with comments and votes and that delivered some early-stage value to our customers… but we realized pretty quickly that the real idea pay-off didn’t come until you started to make some decisions and act on those ideas. That’s why we needed tools to build proposals, to evaluate ideas, to assign resources to ideas, to combine and consolidate ideas into themes, and much more. Most early-stage idea management tools can’t do all this.

Security. Finally, with all the concerns around privacy and intellectual property, security has continued to be a leading priority at IdeaScale. To this day, we are the only idea management platform with FedRAMP authorization. It’s important that all of our customers have confidence that they control their data and no one else.

So those are just A FEW things that have changed in IdeaScale over the years. Obviously, tons of other updates, strategy shifts, acquisitions, and more have gone into it. You can listen to the full interview here, but feel free to keep the questions coming. How do you think idea management has changed?

2018 Innovation Learning Priorities

2018 Innovation Learning PrioritiesEvery year, IdeaScale asks its customers what they’re focused on learning this year. This information becomes the backbone of our content calendar for the rest of the year for both our customers and prospects: it informs what we blog about, what white papers we research, what sessions we feature at Open Nation, and more. This year, we were somewhat surprised at the top three study priorities that innovators are focused on, but it’s also what you can expect to learn about at Open Nation 2018.

Community Engagement Strategies. Well, actually, there’s no surprise here. This subject is one of the leading themes every year. The good news is that so many engagement strategies are evergreen and can be used time after time, but there’s always something new to try every year (whether it’s a new channel for outreach or a new incentive structure that works better for public sector organizations). It’s a subject that we’ll probably always write about, because if a company can succeed in its communications strategy, it’s far more likely to succeed in its innovation program.

Innovation Metrics and ROI. Now this subject was a surprise finalist this year and in our deeper dive into the subject matter, it’s become even more complex. Innovation metrics and ROI can mean very different things to different companies or even to different people within the same program. For this year, we’re focusing on innovation program metrics (outlined in this infographic) and then also introducing the concept of firmer, longer-term metrics that companies can track after the launch of a new program, product, or service.

Implementation Strategies. This is probably the theme that we were happiest to see appear in our top three. We think that the fact that this is a key concern for innovators this year means that innovation programs are maturing to the point that ideation is no longer enough. Lots of organizations start out simply by asking for ideas – they just want to brainstorm and fill their innovation pipeline. Ideas, however, don’t make you more innovative – it’s the follow- through that defines an organization. So we’ll be focusing on implementation strategies like how to assemble resources, how to make the case for new ideas, how to plan for implementation and more.

If you’re interested in learning more about these themes, consider joining us at Open Nation in Berkeley on October 25th this year. We’ll be discussing all of these topics and more.

What about you? What are you focused on learning this year?

Avoiding Groupthink and Empowering Introverts

Avoiding GroupthinkThere was this great infocomic a few years ago that talked about the virtues of online brainstorming. Although there are lots of benefits that we’ve discussed in our blog before (transparent processes, lower program costs, etc), this comic highlighted two of my favorite benefits that results from online brainstorming: avoiding groupthink and empowering introverts. Let’s dig into why each of these is possible.

Avoiding Groupthink. When brainstorming and collaborative ideation happens in a physical location, it trends towards polite agreement or staying with the ideas that occur in that small frame of time and receive the most group consensus. When you invite everyone to do their homework ahead of time and share ideas on their own, you sidestep the problem of ideas that gain the most immediate traction by the loudest voices. All ideas are able to exist simultaneously, independent of one another and then later can receive honest feedback, meaningful connections and equitable opinions. Ideas come first, consensus can come later.

Empowering Introverts. There are lots of studies and articles and books about the virtues of introverts – they’re excellent listeners, observers, happily independent. But many introverts find it difficult to speak up in a room (particularly when a louder, extroverted personality feels so comfortable working the room). For that reason, introverts find online ideation freeing: they can take the time to thoughtfully craft and share their idea and it arrives at the same volume and speed as the ideas of extroverts. It’s far more likely that an introvert’s voice will be shared (and heard) when it is in this online context.

This is something that NYU noticed when they started engaging the voices of their 4,000 administrators in order to inform their representatives to the University Senate about the strategic initiatives that mattered to them. Not only did the AMC note nearly 100% participation from their staff in their online portal, but they also noted a marked increase to in person meetings as well and perhaps most importantly:

“The best thing about IdeaScale is that we’re hearing from individuals that we had never heard from previously and we’re able to advocate for ideas by clearly articulating the support they have”

-Mike McCaw, Chairperson of the NYU Administrative Management Council

To learn more about NYU’s AMC crowdsourcing initiative, download the case study here!

Engaging People in Innovation

Engaging People in InnovationEngaging people in innovation is at the heart of what we do at IdeaScale. No innovation program succeeds if they’re not constantly working to increase the number of new ideas in their community, the amount of conversation and collaboration that can happen in the comments, refinement and beyond, or generating new interest so that new members are joining all the time.

We asked some of our top crowd innovators for their advice on how to increase engagement in IdeaScale communities and this is what they said:

“Keep People at the Center. Even though you wish to encourage the use of a digital channel,  remember it’s all about the people. Acknowledge contributions from community members, respond to their posts, encourage further conversation, and be curious with questions. Valuing the individual and time that they have put aside to participate creates increased engagement.  

Increase Your Reach. Remember to optimise other channels to drive further engagement.  As an example, we found a direct increase in new community membership when we completed face to face sessions or just dropped in to visit specific sites. When you go “where your community is”  you build rapport and personalise the experience.”

-Charmaine Meiklejohn, Queensland Police Department

“We include an introduction to IdeaScale and its purpose as part of our employee onboarding program. We also send out a bi-monthly update to all employees with community stats to generate continued interest.”

-Sarah Carruthers, Sheetz

“Create content and messages that appeal to particular interest groups. We do this by connecting like-minded employees who have similar interests or knowledge about particular topics.  For example, we created a Data Analytics topic of focus and were surprised to find employees passionate about the subject who came from various departments in order to participate in the discussion.”

-Sean Chen, PSA International

“We have made innovation part of the performance evaluation process – it is part of everyone’s annual objectives.”

-Rich Smith, Teradata

“Try highlighting one of the top ideas in your email campaign. We did that and an interesting, trending idea that had 50 votes, skyrocketed to more than 300 votes after that email. It’s a great way to get people into the community to participate.”

-Mike McCaw, NYU

“Always share the “whys” behind the ideation campaign – make the benefits clear to all participants. And make it fun – our team members love to use a variety of metrics, such as pairwise, funding and assessment.”

-Susan Holzmacher, TriHealth

IM Award Lessons: Know Your Innovation Audience

This year, Amway won the Innovation Management award for best innovation engagement strategy. They won this award, because of the global reach of their community and their tactics for bringing people on board (including creating cool videos like this one). So we asked Amway a few questions about their program and here’s what they had to say:

IdeaScale: Why is innovation vital to your organization?

Amway: Collaborative Innovation is vital to Amway because it keeps our direct selling opportunity and products competitive and relevant for our Amway business owners. Our focus on this collaboration  has led us not only into a new era in engagement with our business owners, but also a new era in global advancements in digital solutions, social responsibility and product development.

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

Amway: Know your audience and your end objectives prior to setting up your community.  Amway is a global direct selling company with millions of active business owners around the world.  In order to create one global community where business owners and employees could effectively share ideas and collaborate, a great deal of planning went into setting the platform up in a way that would allow for effective translation and governance of ideas.  Taking the time to plan ahead, will save time in the future.

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

Amway: We are most proud to be Amway’s only digital innovation platform that is able to reach out to our business owners from around the world to collaborate and ideate with them on new and better ways to improve and support their Amway businesses.  To make this global collaboration possible, we’ve engaged in a large team of translators and processes to help us maintain our diverse community by supporting multiple languages.  We are proud of this commitment and look forward to future enhancements as our platform continues to grow.

To learn more about Amway’s award-winning efforts, download the case study today!

Top Resources for Driving Engagement

A key goal at Open Nation this year was to share best practices and top resources for driving engagement. To prepare for Open Nation, our team collected and shared some of our favorite resources on community engagement strategies. Now, we want to share them with you:

driving engagement

Take home message: Plan for multiple touch points throughout a challenge both in terms of channel outreach and messaging

Take home message: take time to consider the nature of the engagement you want to encourage and design your incentives accordingly

Take home message: Employees who feel that they are contributing to a greater purpose are much more likely to engage

Take home message: Target Influencers; Indulge Early Adopters & Listen; Make it Useful w/o Users; Create Exclusivity, Scarcity, Urgency; Give Users Tools to Evangelize; Seed Content & Communities

Take home messages: By increasing your employees creative confidence you will energize them to be more participatory in ideation and other crowdsourcing activities.  Sponsor workshops, host Ted Talk discussions, and promote articles in company newsletters that focus on Human Centered Design.

Take home message: A successful engagement strategy should seek to to build trust with participants to leverage the deep connections people, employees, and the crowd have with each other.

Take home message: From crafting campaigns that speak to your audience, to targeted outreach strategies, and meaningful rewards, success means understanding your target audience.

At Open Nation, our speakers put a special emphasis on how they are driving engagement with their own IdeaScale communities. Amway and the Commission for Environmental Cooperation both produced short videos to drive engagement. And United Way developed a powerful email drip to convert curious visitors to idea submitters.

Last Chance to Submit to the 2017 Innovation Management Awards

Submit to the 2017 Innovation Management AwardsThe deadline of the annual Innovation Management Awards is now upon us and we are still accepting submissions. Just a reminder about the three categories that we want to hear about:

Best Engagement Strategy

Every year, we ask our customers what topics they would most like to see discussed at IdeaScale’s Open Nation and almost every year, our customers ask to hear about new and creative strategies to engage the crowd in the ideation and innovation process. This can be digital engagement, offline, at the workplace or worldwide – how do you bring people into the discussion? No matter what industry you’re in, no matter who you’re trying to involve, the best practices in one area can oftentimes be translated to the best practices in others.

Best Innovation Process

The only way that innovation management programs live on is to have a process that is successful time after time. We want to hear from organizations that have developed systems that have reasonable and meaningful stage gates that identify good ideas and filter them down to only the best ones. This can include moderation best practices, funnel management, and more. The real magic happens in the decisions that are made by the innovation administrators that have developed a successful program.

Wildest Innovation

Implementation is the most challenging aspect of the innovation process. We want to celebrate innovators who have seen an idea through to completion and can prove the viability of that project. And, of course, success breeds success. One idea inspires others and will lead to more creative and implemented ideas. Hopefully some of these ideas inspire others to share and deliver on the great ideas of others.

Don’t miss your chance to tell your innovation success story in the 2017 Innovation Management Awards. Entry forms must be completed in a single sitting. To request a copy of the entry form in advance, please contact [email protected].

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.