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Using Design Principles At IdeaScale

Having design principles is like having a set of constraints or guidelines to work with. In her post  “Taming Blue Sky Ideation: Collecting Ideas that are Both Novel and Valuable,” Whitney describes how presenting a strong problem statement with clear constraints in an innovation challenge “breeds creativity.” This notion can be applied to many different problems and types of work. Aside from having a set of constraints that help make design decisions, I want to create an ecosystem at IdeaScale so that design can thrive as a system with artifacts to support its process. So, after a few months of some seriously brain-teasing custom development projects, I got together with my manager to think about what our ideal design principles could be.

Our goal in creating a set of design principles is to lay out an approach to creating and building a product that will work within the innovation management market and for our customers. These principles are a foundation for what it means to design things at IdeaScale, and can be debated in any scenario. For example, another company’s product could assume that having greater flexibility and a greater spectrum of options is more important than only showing people information they need to be successful. Ultimately, having a set of principles will help create a product that is opinionated, has distinct character, and highlights areas of strength. When the rubber meets the road, these principles will help us understand possible tradeoffs when tough decisions must be made about what to build and implement.

  1. Design for easy starts

Prioritize quick starting points over comprehensive forms. Focus on making initial decisions as easy to digest as possible.

  1. Systems are more important than pages

Be suspicious of new components that don’t simplify or can’t be reused. Pages must never be designed in isolation: consider what it means for the rest of the product when a new page or component is introduced. Value the life-cycle of the experience: what does it look like six months, a year or two years from now? What happens if someone ignores it? What happens when empty or inactive?

  1. Simplicity should be more apparent than flexibility

Have confidence in our knowledge as designers and the decisions we make. Encouraging good decisions for IdeaScale members within the application is more important than illustrating a range of options.

  1. Release one good feature over two moderate

At the heart of this principle is an emphasis to take time to understand the problems at hand. As designers, we must also plan for thoughtful details; don’t skip over small interactions that add to the user’s experience. Fix the small bugs. Don’t compromise experience for consistency across screen sizes. View mobile as a separate challenge. Sacrifice functionality before experience.

  1. IdeaScale Voice & Tone

Our voice is human. In thinking about this, how do we want our readers to feel after they’ve read our content? Any communication should feel simple and make the path to success short. We should make IdeaScale members  feel like part of a larger whole: help them be confident and excited in the power of good ideas, the people in their community, and the ability to produce positive outcomes.

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 Madeline Frechette, Product Designer at IdeaScale.

The IdeaScale Support Team Best Practices

IdeaScale support TeamA successful product like IdeaScale’s relies heavily on satisfying customers when it comes to various factors like price, value, usability, flexibility/customization. But customer support also plays a vital role in communicating product changes to customers promptly, collecting feedback good or bad about the product and passing it along internally, and primarily resolving issues and documenting bugs reported by customers. The question is how do we earn customer satisfaction even in a difficult conversations? There are few ways that the IdeaScale support team works to serve our favorite customers 24/7:

  1. Acknowledge every request:

Most of the chat or ticketing systems already supply an automated reply as soon as client initiates a chat or creates a support ticket, however customers want to know that there’s a real person on the other side. So let them know you are there! At IdeaScale, every chat receives a personalized reply as a statement of acknowledgement with a little summary about the reported issue and what’s being done from our end to address it or escalate it as soon as possible.

  1. Be as Human as possible:

Customers are tired of chatting with robots, they are more interested in interacting with a human on the other side who has emotions and can react accordingly and who can try and understand the customer’s situation. At IdeaScale, our goal is to create a comfort level with the customer. As soon as they learn that they are talking to an actual person, they are more likely to provide extra detail which will help you resolve the matter.

  1. Ask the right and relevant questions:

Get to the heart of the matter as quickly as possible. Begin by asking relevant questions like “What’s the issue?, Where do you see it?, When do you see it? and How can I reproduce it”? etc, whatever helps customer support replicate and pinpoint that issue. At IdeaScale, we start by asking where they are in the app: are they submitting an idea or working on custom settings? We want to know what their goal is right away and go from there.

  1. Acceptance as the first interaction:

Let’s accept the fact that nobody likes it when someone points fingers at something not working correctly in your product. But the customer Is always correct! If a customer felt something is wrong, then they’re probably not alone in their experience, so the best idea is to acknowledge their experience and thank the customer for bringing it to your notice and assuring them that you will help them make it work correctly.

  1. Honesty is the best policy:

Some fear being honest with customers and end up overpromising. But in my experience at IdeaScale, the client is always more grateful when I tell them that it’s a real issue that can be fixed instead of denying that it’s there. At IdeaScale, it’s also our responsibility to frequently keep the customer posted about the progress and also let them know when it is fixed. And that’s my favorite part: when a bug is fixed or a new idea that they gave us is implemented. There is nothing more rewarding, trust me!

The best customer support adds goodwill to your product and company, which has the power to bring in new businesses via word of mouth and recommendations and also can result in existing customer retention and renewal, because they just can’t let us go! So get on chat and reach out to me anytime as your IdeaScale ambassador!

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 Rakhesh Nair, Lead Support Engineer at IdeaScale

The Silicon Valley Tour of Europe

 

silicon valley tour of europeIdeaScale has been serving customers globally almost since day one. It’s one of the reasons that we prioritized accessibility, ensuring that our app performs in even historically low-bandwidth areas, and multi-lingual capabilities in our product development. We wanted to make sure that anyone, anywhere can share ideas, build on the ideas of others and usher in the next generation of change even in the most far-flung corners of the globe. And, as a result, we’ve been virtually serving teams in Africa, Oceania, and Europe for years now.

But now, IdeaScale is working with our key customers and partners in Europe to come meet you in person, too. During the month of June, IdeaScale will be hosting several events and if you’re in the area, we’d love to spend some time with you.

Join us for a short discussion and networking happy hour in Turkey on June 6th

Join us for a meet-up in the UK during London Tech Week on June 14th

Join us for a half-day workshop in Germany on June 20th

A future-forward workshop in Milan, Italy on June 27th

Certainly, we’re excited to tell you about some key innovation trends that we’re seeing, but even more importantly there are a few things that we’d like to ask you, as well:

What are the leading innovation trends that you see in Europe? How are companies responding to digital transformation? What are the emerging trends that companies are rushing to meet and where are they falling behind?

What are the most potent challenges when it comes to crowdsourcing systems? Is it the security of the cloud? How is European law responding to the changing trends in intellectual property?

What are the most exciting emerging trends? Is it big data, the internet of things, wearable technology, smart cities, or something else entirely?

We can’t wait to discuss these things with you in person, so register while there’s still space at these gatherings and we’ll see you all soon!

Culture Creator = Sustainable Innovation

culture-creator-sustainable-innovationWhen playing the role of culture creator, the leader’s primary task is to ensure the spirit of the innovation process is understood, celebrated, and aligned with the strategy of the organization.

The importance of fostering beliefs and behaviors that encourage innovation within your team and organization cannot be overstated. As products, technologies, business models become commodities over time, your corporate culture can become the source of reinvention and your only enduring competitive advantage.

“The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture. If you do not manage culture, it manages you, and you may not even be aware of the extent to which this is happening.”   Edgar Schein

Ten Ways to Begin Shifting the Culture 

It is often said, “the soft stuff is the hard stuff.” All of the best innovation tools and practices can be available, but ultimately, people have to want to use them. Getting to a place where courage, creativity, and collaboration is the norm for addressing problems or pursuing opportunities can be difficult. And the costs are real. With a resistant culture, getting new ideas to stick is like trying to nail Jello to a wall – frustrating, messy, and non-productive!

Many innovation leaders are hired into their roles precisely because the culture has become bureaucratic or toxic and everyone knows it.  How does a leader become a culture creator, who can transform a culture that inhibits innovation into one that helps it flourish?

A few of the early steps in playing the role of culture creator as a change agent include:

  1. Clarify your definition and expectations regarding innovation for your team. Help people see how innovation connects to what they do and how they do it.
  2. Be a role model, and act in ways that promote a safe, trusting, and collaborative environment.
  3. Provide training for your team to establish a common language, concepts, and practices for innovation.
  4. Encourage forward-looking curiosity.
  5. Be open to new ideas, even if they might cannibalize existing products and services.
  6. Provide the time, tools, and resources your team needs to successfully innovate
  7. Recognize risk-taking and failure is part of the innovation process.
  8. Monitor innovation activity and find ways to publicly celebrate the accomplishments of your team members.
  9. Tell inspiring stories and use symbols to reinforce the importance of innovation to your particular business. Make innovation compelling, both from a business perspective and from the personal viewpoint of individual innovators.
  10. Assess the current culture and level of innovation within the team through interviews, group discussions and/or a survey.  Work with the team to develop an improvement plan.

Corporate culture is largely formed based on success.  Things that work tend to get repeated.  They become “the way we do things around here”. As the dominant arbiter of success on a day-to-day basis for most employees, leaders play the most significant role in fostering a culture of innovation. The ten recommendations focus on creating a positive experience for people engaged in innovation, so they start to believe their ideas matter, and they begin to behave in ways that facilitate ingenuity and initiative. With consistent reinforcement from the leader, the team’s confidence growths as do the roots of the culture.  The team starts seeing itself as innovative, and the mindset and successful practices are taught to the new people with pride and enthusiasm.

As a culture creator, you are the author of the unwritten rules that influence people’s behavior. The ones responsible for promoting an environment of entrepreneurial spirit and empowering teams to break the rules if breakthrough thinking is needed.  To the degree you embrace this role, your corporate culture will act as rocket fuel to your innovation efforts or become your team’s Achilles heel.

Create Your Unique Innovative Culture

It can help to link your innovation culture to your overall company culture. For example, when she was CEO of HP, Carly Fiorina linked their innovation culture to the founding values of the company, through the “Rules of the Garage.” The rules were written across a photo of the one-car Palo Alto garage where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard first began the company.

Fiorina described her intent as a culture creator: “We have tried to capture the spirit of the original HP in what we call the Rules of the Garage. The garage is a special place for us. It represents that entrepreneurial, inventive spirit that is special about HP. The reason we wrote them down was to remind ourselves that this is what this place used to be about, it’s what this place always needs to be about. Those soft things, those things that represent the soul and the spirit of the place, in the end, those are in many cases the most sustainable competitive advantage that you have.”

HP’s Rules of the Garage include:

  • Believe you can change the world.
  • Work quickly, keep the tools unlocked, work whenever possible.
  • Know when to work alone and when to work together.
  • Share tools, ideas. Trust your colleagues.
  • No politics. No bureaucracy. (These are ridiculous in a garage.)
  • The customer defines a job well done.
  • Radical ideas are not bad ideas.
  • Invent different ways of working.
  • Make a contribution every day.
  • If it doesn’t contribute, it doesn’t leave the garage.
  • Believe that together we can do anything.

With market pressures demanding corporate cultures become more adaptive and collaborative, the organization will look for a role model who is passionate and has the inner drive to move innovation forward. To learn more about the culture creator role as well as the other innovation, leadership roles, download the entire chapter of Leading Innovation Ten Essential Roles for Harnessing the Creative Talent of Your Enterprise.

This blog post is part of the Leading Innovation series authored by Laszlo Gyorffy, MS. Laszlo is president of the Enterprise Development Group, an international consulting firm specializing in business strategy and innovation. He also is an accomplished speaker, certified instructional designer and trainer, and co-author of Creating Value with CO-STAR: An Innovation Tool for Perfecting and Pitching your Brilliant Ideas and The Global Innovation Science Handbook. Laszlo recently developed the One Hour Innovator a cloud-based toolkit that teaches people how to successfully generate and champion bigger, bolder, and better ideas.

Open Innovation: Your Guide to Harnessing and Managing the Best Ideas

open-innovation-your-guide-to-harnessing-and-managing-the-best-ideasIf you’re tired of not being able to compete with bigger companies in your industry due to a lack of research and development (R&D) budget, the good news is that’s no longer a problem. Open innovation allows everyone to compete equally, whether their development budget is large or small.

What is Open Innovation

Open innovation is a paradigm shift that assumes organizations can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas to determine as path to market and advance technology. Useful knowledge has become widespread and doesn’t always come from a centralized location within a single business, like the R&D department many organizations employ.  This new way of thinking offers fresh ways to create value and can be used to collect ideas internally from employees or externally from customers or the public.

The act of implementation, of effectively turning new ideas into new processes and products, is now the primary differentiator between success and failure. Businesses still must take the new ideas and processes that are generated and do the hard work of converting promising concepts into products and services that serve customers.

Why Open Innovation is an Equalizer

Historically, internal R&D could be an organization’s greatest asset. Powerhouse companies could keep companies at bay simply because they could invest more in development, and as a result reap the highest profits.

Today, however, the Internet and information economy has changed the story. Businesses, even startups, are able to get ideas to market using a different process which includes crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, and implementation only after the market is proven. The boundaries between an organization and its environment have become less distinct, with the market impacting the company and the company impacting the market.

The Shift in R&D

R&D is shifting from internally focused to expansion outside of the department and beyond the organization’s four walls. While you can still have experts in the R&D department, you can also engage employees and external groups to solve any problem.

  • Employee Open Innovation: Princess Cruises gathers thousands of new ideas, engages more than four thousand employees, and manages it all through one innovation team.
  • Employee Open Innovation Dick’s Sporting Goods was a runner-up in the 2016 Innovation awards. The company stays ahead of the curve when developing new products by using open innovation internally. A “Concept Locker” allows employees to submit product ideas, comment on submitted concepts, and win rewards for participating.
  • External Open Innovation: TechSmith Software creates screen capture and recording software that is used in over 30 countries. Through open innovation, they were able to collect hundreds of ideas for improvements and upgrades, collect thousands of votes, and even assist the PR team with responding to inquiries.

How to Use Open Innovation in Your Organization

To use open innovation in your organization, you first must shift the mindset of the leadership and stakeholders to understand the crowdsourcing mindset. Once everyone is on board, consider implementing systems that help you prepare for the complexity of idea management. You’ll need a way to:

  • Collect ideas from a diverse array of sources
  • Organize ideas in one location
  • View and evaluate new ideas
  • Develop ideas
  • Get approvals
  • Communicate progress

Open innovation isn’t optional, it’s an essential way to bring in new ideas at a significantly lower cost than ever before. With the right system, you can gather ideas, process feedback, prepare ideas for implementation, and get funding approval, all within the same platform.

As you seek to implement or improve your open innovation programs, you’ll want to have a process in place to harness and vet the multitude of ideas. Our latest whitepaper shares guidance and best-practices from organizations who do it right. Download it today.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a Great Innovator Because they Nurture Innovators

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a Great Innovator Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is an American multi-program science and technology national laboratory. It is the largest science and energy national laboratory in the Department of Energy system and its programs focus on materials, neutron science, energy, high-performance computing, systems biology and national security.

In order to meet program objectives, ORNL launched JUMP. JUMP is an online crowdsourcing community launched in 2015. Its an online place where innovators, particularly small entrepreneurs, can present ideas for new technologies for energy-efficient buildings to private and public sector leaders in research and development. Additionally, JUMP includes opportunities for all users to comment and vote on the posted ideas. This community discussion helps DOE, the labs, and industry partners gauge the market’s interest in the topic and potential solutions.

But because the program emphasizes the need to reach out to and grow budding entrepreneurs, they’ve baked mentorship right into their program. Although all ideas move through a five stage process of refinement and evaluation (challenge launch, idea submission, voting feedback, judging, and the announcement of winners), it is that final stage that is the most interesting.

Upon announcement of the judges’ decisions, the innovator (the submitter of the winning idea), Lab technical advisor (a technical member of a national laboratory with relevant technical expertise for the call at hand), and industry partner collaborate to move the technology forward. This three-way partnership is highly customized depending on the skill set of the ideator, the requirements of the technology and its potential applications. In some cases, the Labs are able to connect with and establish partnerships with accelerators programs to further support and expedite the technology to market. This means that the merits of the idea aren’t limited by the boundaries of the organization OR the capabilities of someone with a great idea.

To learn more about Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s use of crowdsourcing for innovation, read the full case study here.

 

Five Components of a Repeatable Innovation Portfolio

five-components-of-a-repeatable-innovation-portfolioCreating a repeatable innovation portfolio helps you plan more efficiently, scale resources, and gain insight for the growth of your innovation program. There are five key elements of a repeatable innovation portfolio:

  • Opportunity Identification and Campaign Creation
  • Idea Collection and Inspiration
  • Proposal Generation
  • Implementation
  • Performance Tracking

When these components are in place, your innovation process becomes predictable and encourages participation across the spectrum.

Opportunity Identification and Campaign Creation

Innovation and problems go hand and hand because problems are the source of which opportunities to implement new ideas are born and iterated upon.

Train your staff to recognize that problems that they hear from other employees, customers, leads, and prospects are always opportunities for innovation. Better yet, have them go out into the field to see first-hand what the users, purchasers,  and influencers of your product or service do with it. What problems does each group encounter with your product? Are your competitors focusing too much on one group, giving you an opportunity to capitalize on another? These questions will show you opportunities for innovation.

Once you’ve identified your innovation focus, create a campaign. By implementing specific stages for each innovation project, you’ll be able to lay out a clear path from problem to solution. As you sift through the crowdsourcing, internal ideas, and feedback data, consider that although feedback is individual, some of the ideas might build upon each other or be related in some way. These pairings might help you build steps in your campaign or help you plan for risks.

Idea Collection and Inspiration

It’s said, “No man is an island,” and no organization or innovation project is an island either. You should look for ideas and inspiration in as many places as possible.

Crowdsourcing is a great way to gain ideas for your innovation project. By crowdsourcing, you can draw on the experience of people in different areas of the country, different parts of the world, and different industries in business. You can choose who to invite into your idea collection process, from employees to customers to the general public. By running contests and offering incentives, you can get the best and the brightest to contribute to your project.

Don’t stop collecting ideas just because you don’t have an active innovation project, though. Having new ideas about how to do things can bring breakthrough ideas in other areas. Become an active idea collector at all times!

Proposal Generation

Once you have identified your problem and collected ideas, it’s time to narrow down your options and create a specific proposal.

You can have an internal innovation project team tasked with evaluating the feasibility of the best ideas. You can also assign idea champions to a select few of the concepts, and create incentives for them to come up with the best possible proposals.

Proposals will need to be reviewed by key stakeholders from every department. Don’t leave anyone out. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a great innovation project slashed because one department or leader feels slighted or doesn’t have enough information to make a decision.

Implementation

Unfortunately, implementation can be the biggest hurdle for any innovation project. An organization that can execute the ideas it creates has a tremendous advantage over other companies.

Here are a few hurdles that can derail implementation:

  • Budget: Make sure that the leadership team is committed to a budget not just for initial launch, but for ongoing maintenance of the new process. You may need to select fewer innovation projects each year as a result, but it’s worth it to get them implemented!
  • Buy-in: Identify key stakeholders in your organization that need to be persuaded that the new idea is impactful. Also, identify influencers in your organization who can help employees adopt and embrace the new process.
  • Overload: Don’t try to change too many things at once. People can only adapt to so much change. You may need to space out projects or focus on different areas of the company each time.

If you can overcome these issues, you can skyrocket past your competitors. It’s not how many ideas you have; it’s what you do with them!

Performance Tracking

Performance tracking is essential not only to evaluate and tweak your current idea, but it also serves as proof of progress to leadership and stakeholders. A highly successful innovation project is likely to increase the support and funding available for your next effort.

By tracking the performance of your new idea, you can show the return on investment that the company realized from the innovation. Not only is this helpful for maintaining current funding, but it’s also a great way to motivate employees and increase buy-in for this new process and future ideas.

 

Many innovation project managers believe that successful innovation is a lot like catching lightning in a bottle – unpredictable, hard to plan, and not repeatable. Fortunately, that isn’t true. When you create an innovation process that you follow on a regular basis, you can plan for and predict when your useful innovation projects will happen.

To use these five components to create a repeatable innovation portfolio, you’ll need the right systems in place to support you. IdeaScale has comprehensive innovation planning and implementation tools that can set you on the right track and keep you going. We’d love to help you create a repeatable process going forward.

To learn more about creating a repeatable innovation portfolio, watch the Open Nation: Trends in Innovation Management presentation and download the slide deck here.

Barrier Buster: Clearing the Way for Breakthrough Ideas

barrier-buster-clearing-the-way-for-breakthrough-ideasInnovation leaders must master a wide range of skills in order to enhance the innovation potential of their teams. Often, managers are required to play the role of a barrier buster to ensure the team’s creativity delivers bottom line results for the business. Some of the responsibilities they assume in this role include:

  • Providing the necessary time, space, tools, and data for your staff to innovate
  • Guiding projects along the path of least resistance and avoiding political pitfalls
  • Adjusting policies, procedures, and organization practices to facilitate new idea implementation
  • Talking your peers through the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that often comes with change

Common Obstacles to Plan For

Being a barrier buster requires you to be able to negotiate skillfully in tough situations with both internal and external groups. Innovation means change, and change can be quite disruptive and emotionally charged. Being able to gain concessions without damaging relationships is a valuable skill. Innovation leaders help new ideas mature and create paths of least resistance so projects can navigate the political, economic, and cultural obstacles. There are countless organizational barriers to innovation that cause it to be slow, inefficient, costly, risky, and frustrating. Being aware of some of the most typical impediments can be helpful:

  • The organization lacks the enterprise-wide methods (concepts, practices, tools, language, or skills) for innovation.
  • There is not enough funding to form and facilitate innovation projects.
  • The organization is overly consensus-oriented, and any dissenting vote can bring an innovation project to a halt. Champions and sponsors give up or leave the company because it is too hard to get everyone onboard with ideas.
  • The organization’s relentless commitment to operational excellence prevents anything new and disruptive from being tried and tested. This is a classic example of a strength becoming a weakness.
  • Past success has robbed the organization of its willingness to take risks. Leaders play it safe and settle for “me too” strategies just to keep up with the pack, rather than boldly investing in a better future.
  • The organization lacks proper incentives for innovation. Idea champions are rarely recognized and rewarded for their efforts.
  • People are overworked and simply don’t have the bandwidth to take on their innovative ideas.
  • Organization silos prevent cross-boundary collaboration and limit the scale, speed, and impact of innovation.

Barrier busters must be politically savvy to meet these kinds of challenges. They need sensitivity to know how the specific people and their organization are likely to react. Barrier busters help their idea champions or project teams maneuver through complex political situations effectively because they can anticipate the organizational “landmines” and how to avoid them.

Persistence in the Face of Obstacles

Barrier busters are also determined. They don’t stop at the first signs of resistance and refuse to accept “no” for an answer whenever there is hope for success. They are resourceful, looking for the support and resources wherever they can be found. Barrier busters know the difference between the market saying “no,” and an organizational obstacle saying, “no.”

A leader might have learned from the VC role to let go of struggling projects, where customers don’t respond as expected or where the market does not respond positively, in order to move the resources to fund innovation winners. However, as a barrier buster, this same leader knows that organizational protectiveness does not mean the project is struggling in the market. The barrier buster fights for the opportunity to let customers decide which product or service is the business of the future.

History is full of examples of innovators who were told their ideas would not work, but who ultimately found ways to gain the support and resources they needed. Consider what would have happened if these innovators had not persisted in the face of obstacles:

“Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances.”

—Dr. Lee De Forest, “Father of Radio & Grandfather of Television.”

 

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”

—Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

 

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

—Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

 

“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.”

—A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found FedEx.)

 

“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy!”

—Response from the drillers Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist in his project to drill for oil in 1859. (source)

Without successful execution there is no innovation, only the unfulfilled promise of a better future.  Leaders need to help their teams break down the mental barriers, financial barriers and organizational barriers so their ideas can become a reality. To learn more about the barrier buster role and what is needed to navigate the pitfalls and politics of corporate innovation, download the complete chapter of Leading Innovation Ten Essential Roles for Harnessing the Creative Talent of your Enterprise for the full text on mentorship. In our next installment of the Leading Innovation series, we’ll review the Networker role. If you’d rather not wait, download the entire chapter today.

This blog post is part of the Leading Innovation series authored by Laszlo Gyorffy, MS. Laszlo is president of the Enterprise Development Group, an international consulting firm specializing in business strategy and innovation. He also is an accomplished speaker, certified instructional designer and trainer, and co-author of Creating Value with CO-STAR: An Innovation Tool for Perfecting and Pitching your Brilliant Ideas and The Global Innovation Science Handbook. Laszlo recently developed the One Hour Innovator a cloud-based toolkit that teaches people how to successfully generate and champion bigger, bolder, and better ideas.

Improving Workforce Engagement in Your Purpose-Driven Workplace

improving-workforce-engagement-in-your-purpose-driven-workplaceIt’s clear that consumers care about quality and price when purchasing products and services. However, did you know that company reputation and social responsibility, rank immediately after those two factors? And, when it comes to workforce engagement, exceptional employees care about work that has a positive impact on society.

As a business, you need to satisfy both the consumer and employee side of the equation if you want your shareholders to be happy. Businesses are beginning to realize that doing good is not only the right thing, but it makes good business sense for the company. This realization is what’s driving the trend towards a purpose-driven workplace.

What is a Purpose-Driven Workplace?

A purpose-driven workplace infuses purpose into all that it does. It pursues purpose as well as profitability. This doesn’t mean that your company’s mission focuses 100% on saving the world. Many times, it’s simply about creating a connection between the work that’s done in your organization and a larger purpose. Then, helping employees see that connection.

When you create a purpose driven workplace, you provide your employees with a way to:

  • Make a positive impact on others and on the community around them
  • Connect with others and build meaningful relationships at work
  • Achieve continued personal and professional growth

When you provide employees with these opportunities, they’ll feel like their work matters and they’ll know that they are making a difference. Even more, they will grow and learn within your organization, helping you create a deep well of talent for promotions over time.

Why a Purpose-Driven Workplace is Important

Beyond feeling and doing good, the importance of purpose for any organization is startling. A survey by Deloitte showed that 73% of employees who say they work for a purpose-driven company are engaged, whereas only 23% of employees are engaged at companies that are not purpose driven. Clearly, having a purpose-driven workplace is a vital part of keeping employees engaged and productive.

Improving Workforce Engagement

There are many ways to improve engagement by creating a purpose-driven workplace. These ideas are just a starting point. Ask your team to see what else they can come up with:

  • Discuss the impact that your product or service makes to the end user
  • Share positive customer stories
  • Give back to the community in volunteer hours as well as with funds, products and services
  • Provide project opportunities that highlight purpose
  • Give employees time to work on projects that are meaningful to them
  • Consider realigning employees to emphasize strengths and interests
  • Solicit opinions and feedback to find out how your employees connect purpose to work
  • Implement incentives or programs that help connect the dots between work and purpose
  • Systematize and automate where possible to help you stay organized, maximize resources, and save time

Creating a purpose-driven workplace doesn’t have to be expensive. Simple, consistent communication that happens on the new employee orientation day and extends into the daily, weekly and monthly activities of your workforce may be just the thing you need to create an engaged workforce.

Whatever you decide, the purpose-driven workplace is here to stay. You need a plan to sustain workforce engagement long-term. Our latest whitepaper shares tips and strategies that others are using to get there. Download your copy of The Purpose-Driven Workforce today.

Innovating for Social Good

innovating-for-social-goodMany employees desire purpose in their work beyond earning a paycheck. And many businesses want to make a difference as well. When you innovate for social good, you not only create an external impact, but you help your employees fulfill their desire for meaningful work.

What is Social Good?

Social good is defined as “a good or service that affects the largest number of people in the largest possible way.” When companies focus only on shareholders, they affect a small number of people relative to society. Consequently, this type of company is not necessarily engaged in doing social good. However, by shifting the focus beyond shareholders and profitability, your company can have an impact that extends beyond the walls of your organization.

There are many ways that your company can create social good. Helping provide clean water, building schools, or helping to create clean air in large regions are just a few examples. Social good goes beyond just raising money. It’s about having a social impact that enhances people’s lives in a real way.

Standard Bank’s Water4Africa Challenge is a great example of crowdsourcing for social good. They received hundreds of entries during the challenge and selected winners that met their six criteria.

How Does Social Good Relate to Social Responsibility?

Social responsibility is closely related to social good, but they are not the same thing. Social responsibility is the idea that businesses should balance, making a profit with activities that benefit society. For example, having a program where you encourage employees to volunteer is a way to practice social responsibility, but it’s not the same as creating social good as part of your company’s operation.

However, there are places where social responsibility and social good overlap. Organizations that have giveback programs that help humanitarian agencies generate social good are an example of how they overlap. A company that commits itself to “running green” to help the environment, and encourages others within the industry to follow suit, is doing so as well.

Innovating For Social Good with Crowdsourcing

If you’re looking for the best way for your company to participate in producing social good, what better process is there than asking society at large? Crowdsourcing allows you to ask your community – or even the global society – to suggest innovative ideas that your company could implement to affect a large number of people in the best, and largest possible way.

Crowdsourcing requires some planning. Here are some important tips to make crowdsourcing work for your organization:

  • Use the Right Technology. Having a system that allows you one single place to gather ideas, evaluate them, and determine how best to execute them is vital. IdeaScale is one platform that gives you that capability.
  • Pick the Right Rewards. People love to compete and win. To encourage contributions, pick rewards that appeal to your crowdsourcing base. This doesn’t have to be monetary. It could be an impactful donation to an organization of their choice, for instance. In IdeaBuzz, participants get rewarded with donations to their favorite charity in exchange for participating.
  • Follow Up With Action. Nothing is more frustrating to a group excited about making a difference than to see no action taken on great ideas. If you do this, you’ll hurt morale both within your organization and within your idea community. Be prepared to implement!

Mobilizing the Masses

If you want to make a big impact on the world, you often need a large group of people to do it. Don’t limit the ideas to your own leadership or staff.  Instead, look to the community around you, and the community around the world for ideas on innovating for social good.

Take some time to think of ways your organization can help make a big difference to a large number of people. To discover how others are innovating for social good, download the DREAMS Innovation Challenge case study today.