Tag: engagement

A Love Note to Lurkers

lurkersThere was a lot of talk at this year’s Open Nation about the number of lurkers in IdeaScale communities: those community members who sign on, create a profile and view pages, but then don’t take further action like suggesting ideas, reviewing ideas, refining ideas, etc.

For those of you familiar with the 90-9-1 rule of the internet, this makes a lot of sense; 1% of the participants in any digital system will be adding the most value, 9% adding some value and the other 90% are simply viewing the content and benefiting passively from the community. For those of you with lurkers in your community, this is definitely a common ratio and you’re not alone in wanting to empower more participation from those who sign on to your community and stay silent.

However, it was the speakers from the Queensland Police who stated that they see a lot of value even in their lurker participants. They told a story about an idea submitter who got into the elevator with a leader in their organization. During that elevator ride, the leader referenced the idea submitter’s idea, stated how they enjoyed it and said that they were working to make it reality. This from someone who had never made a statement on the platform. This anecdote leads to three truths about lurkers:

Lurkers can still learn. Part of the benefit of a crowdsourced innovation system is disseminating information to others in the network so that they can apply it elsewhere. Even if a lurker never submits an idea – they can still learn from the content submitted by others. Best practices get disseminated this way without lurkers needing to do a thing.

Lurkers provide value as an audience. For the idea submitter, this is part of the value: to be heard in front of an audience. If the lurkers weren’t on there to view content, it’s unlikely that the idea submitters would participate. We need our lurkers, because part of the value is the network.

Sometimes lurkers are still taking action. Just as the elevator story indicates – even if someone doesn’t update their innovation community, they might be thinking about or even taking action on ideas. Obviously, we want these conversations to be happening on a public platform so that others can see why something will move forward or why another idea stalls out, but this offline interaction is still valuable.

So even as you’re trying to activate more of your lurkers, remember that building community means making a space for people to hang out and consume great ideas even if they don’t have one to share right now.

Learn more about the Queensland Police innovation initiative in their Open Nation presentation.

Examples of Great Innovation Engagement Videos

 Innovation Engagement VideosWhen participation from your crowd is critical to your innovation program, you’ve got to have a multi-channel engagement strategy that works. Almost everyone uses email to get in contact with their end users, but there are plenty of other channels that are valuable for sharing your message including social media (or your internal messaging system for your business), SMS communication, posters or flyers if you’re soliciting ideas from a particular location, press releases, partner communications and many more.

But it’s often truly inspiring and easier to understand if you invite your crowd to participate in your program if you share a video that demonstrates your program and its value, which is why we wanted to highlight some examples from some leading innovators.

Wolters Kluwer empowers employees to think of themselves as innovative thinkers (like Einstein), while also accessibly demonstrating the front end experience of the IdeaScale platform so that the crow knows what to expect when they get there.

Amway’s video clearly demonstrates the value of participating in Amway’s crowdsourced innovation community – not only does it make a company better, it helps employees build their careers.

The CEC’s challenge video highlights past winners so that future participants know what they can expect if they move forward in the challenge, because the challenge runners are truly listening.

Calgary’s video features top leaders from the city (in this case, the Mayor) so the public knows that the program has high visibility and would probably have sincere resources applied to it. It also includes some guidance on criteria – ideas should help the city be more entrepreneurial, creative or innovative.

The JUMP program outlines the process that ideas go through in order to be implemented. The process is demonstrated clearly and succinctly (they even built it into the acronym for their program name).

What are some of the great qualities in these videos. Well, almost all of them are less than two minutes, some include a demonstration of the platform, but all include a clear call to action and the URL where an employee, citizen, or customer can take action.

Have you ever used videos as part of your engagement strategy?

Deadline for the 2018 Innovation Management Awards Extended

Deadline ExtendedIdeaScale is offering innovators from around the world an extra week to complete their submission for the Innovation Management Awards. This is our fifth annual award series and we honor winners in three categories: best innovation engagement strategy, best innovation process, and best innovation.

Why did we pick the categories that we did? Well, every year we ask our customers what it is that they would most like to learn about in order to support their programs. Themes vary year to year (for example, this year a top theme was innovation metrics and program data), but a few categories seem to appear every year: engagement, process, and idea implementation. So these are the categories that we learn from and try to celebrate. Here are just a few of the benefits of succeeding in each one.

Engagement. IdeaScale offers crowdsourcing software, because the higher quantity and the greater diversity between linked ideas and concepts, the better an innovation program performs. However, to derive this benefit, organizations need to also be excellent at communications that invite people into their innovation communities to connect and collaborate. Every year we celebrate entrants who have demonstrated creativity and results in their engagement strategy.

Process. A repeatable innovation process is what makes an organization shift to an innovative culture. Without a process, organizations can sometimes be innovative and sometimes be an industry laggard. If there is a process for the collection, refinement, selection, and development of great ideas, then groups will be able to innovate over and over again across multiple horizons. It’s for this reason that we celebrate the process gurus among us.

Implementation. And finally, the true proof of an organization’s innovation capability is in delivering ideas and learning from them.  We ask our subscribers to tell us about products or processes that began as ideas, but turned into program realities. This helps our other customers see how they can deliver on ideas that could generate demonstrable returns for their company, as well.

The new deadline for submission is November 30th, 2018. Demonstrate how you think about these three categories by submitting your company as an entrant today!

The Nonprofit Innovation Advantage: Purpose

Nonprofit innovation advantageResearch has amassed over the past several years that details how much positive impact it can have on the workplace to offer employees a sense of purpose. Purpose doesn’t just mean that an employee has the ability to influence meaningful decisions at an organization, but also that an employee believes they are part of a consequential mission. This type of purpose can help employees feel engaged, stay longer, work more effectively, and more.

This is actually a key advantage that nonprofits have when it comes to innovation. Employees, donors, and recipients of a nonprofit’s services see the true and profound value of helping a nonprofit succeed in its mission, which can positively impact innovation in three ways:

  • Motivating participants to share their ideas. If you’re working on a crowdsourced innovation program, one of the key challenges is finding a way to make participants care about the outcome, but with nonprofit crowdsourced innovation programs, the purpose and outcomes are more readily apparent – you’ll help that organization achieve that goal better, faster, or more broadly.
  • Motivating participants to help support meaningful ideas. One of the key challenges that nonprofits face, of course, is finding enough new resources for promising ideas. One of the benefits of a crowdsourced innovation program, however, is that you can find additional resources to implement ideas outside of your organization (or in other unlikely places). Think of how the Cerebral Palsy Alliance wanted to find ideas that would impact those living with cerebral palsy; a man in Turkey wanted a solar powered wheelchair to help him have access to power more easily and a team in Virginia built a prototype for him. Anyone, anywhere can join the team this way and maximize resources and time.
  • Aligning ideas to key organizational goals. Because nonprofits have a clear mission, it creates concret objectives and criteria by which it is easier to make decisions. It’s less likely that a nonprofit will be distracted by irrelevant or off-topic ideas and will instead focus on impactful innovation.

Those are just a few advantages that nonprofit innovators might have. To learn more about nonprofit innovation, download our complimentary infographic on the subject.

Why Measuring Innovation Sentiment is Essential

Metrics tell you if you’re working.

Building a great platform and designing a positive innovation strategy that reflects both company culture and vision is a good beginning for any organization looking to become or remain a leader in their industry. But there’s a third component to this: Your employees have to be engaged with the idea of innovating. How do you measure engagement, and what does it mean for innovation?

Why Engagement?

Innovation is most powerful when everyone engages with it, of course, but even a small amount of engagement can tell you some important data about innovation culture at your company and how to foster more of it. In some companies, the entire organization feels a strong need to innovate; in others, innovation can be an uphill battle against tradition, conventional wisdom, or even concerns that change might negatively affect their jobs. Any effective strategy will figure out the baseline, where innovation falls as a priority and how employees feel about it.

It can also be difficult to get a sense of the effectiveness of an innovation platform unless you have some data in front of you. Metrics and data allow you to better understand where your strategy is effective and where you need new approaches. Which brings us to the question: Which metrics?

Measuring Engagement

Some metrics will be self-evident: For example, clicks on your innovation platform, votes on various innovation measures, and comments left on your platform. You should also run satisfaction surveys, which should include a net promoter score, or NPS. The NPS is simple; you ask your employees to rate, from one to ten, how likely they would be to recommend this to a friend?

What do the numbers say?

Others may be more subtle and will depend on your needs. For example, if a platform doesn’t get many clicks, but it gets participation from some important stakeholders who drive innovation, that can tell you where the investment lies and that you need to motivate innovators further in the ranks. If one department, in particular, participates more than another, why are they so invested when others aren’t? Do they feel that innovation doesn’t matter to them? Do other departments feel discouraged from offering ideas? Are they aware the platform is available to them and that you want to hear their ideas?

Applying Metrics

Once you have this data, you need to interpret it. It’s worth remembering that there’s a limit to what metrics can tell you; a metric can tell you how often a mouse is clicked, but not the intent behind the finger. Once you’ve got a sense of the data, it’s worth drafting a more detailed survey asking if your reading of it is correct and giving your employees the opportunity to weigh in with their opinions in a bit more detail.

Every employee and every department will be different in how they react to innovation. Change can be troubling for some people simply because it presents the unknown, while others might be excited for the chance to put a stamp on the company. Metrics allow you to find just what employees think of your innovation strategy, and to reconfigure it and reconsider your assumptions. To learn more about innovation metrics and strategy,  contact us.

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