IDEASCALE BLOG

Tag: Innovation

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?

The Rise of the Innovation Department

Companies of all sizes are organizing their innovation programs around their crowds these days. The reason for this is because a great deal of research has emerged that proves the power not just of valuable ideas, but connections between valuable ideas. That’s why companies use systems like IdeaScale where anyone (customers, employees, partners) can submit ideas, combine ideas, build on the ideas of others, and more. That sort of transparency has proven invaluable for fostering connections between promising themes, ideas, trends, proposals, and early-stage concepts. But to manage complex and powerful programs like that, more and more companies are starting innovation departments to manage the flow of ideas.

Innovation Department

And IdeaScale’s annual research has confirmed that this trend is growing. Nearly 40% of IdeaScale’s customer base is managing their idea management program from an innovation department.  Other firms and forecasters are seeing this too, with Accenture reporting “there is  a gratifying increase in the number of innovation departments formalized within company structures.” This number has only continued to grow each year.

Like many emerging disciplines, however, there are some unique challenges for this new department. Here are some of the most obvious ones:

No Established Resources. The roles and responsibilities for the innovation department aren’t yet established, which means that many organizations aren’t sure what innovation teams yet: how many team members, which innovation skills do they need to develop, how much budget should be assigned to innovation programs. Unfortunately, if companies fail to assign adequate resources to these companies, it’s unlikely that the programs will succeed. New ideas need runway for testing and that runway requires money and people.

Developing Processes. For a long time, innovation was considered to be an activity that was exclusive to creators and inventors – and that it couldn’t be programmed or predicted. What innovation management has shown, however, is that good innovation is repeatable – but only when there’s a process for sharing and connecting ideas, building out and testing ideas, and socializing that success far and wide. An innovation department needs to provide process and structure to innovation as one of its responsibilities.

No Fixed KPIs. Finally, without a set of innovation metrics, innovation programs can’t track or articulate their value. As we’ve discussed in the past, there are a variety of things to measure from innovation inputs (like ideas generated and percentage of workforce trained in innovation) to innovation outputs (like revenue generated or customer sentiment improvement). Innovation departments need to decide what to track and then report on it regularly.

What do you think will happen next for the new innovation department?

Innovation Fear

Innovation FearOur CEO was recently interviewed by the San Francisco Business Times and the conversation pulled up short for a moment when the interviewer (after hearing us talk about the possibilities afforded by an innovation management system) asked us why people are sometimes afraid to launch a crowdsourced innovation program.  So we wanted to take a moment to talk about some common innovation fear that we see from first time innovators.

Fear of Mediocrity. What if the ideas aren’t any good? It’s true that a poorly managed ideation community probably won’t generate the quality ideas that you’re looking for to propel your business or agency forward. Fortunately, it is easy to manage this problem by posting a provocative challenge statement and offering some guidelines that define what sorts of ideas you’re looking for. The crowd will (most often) rise admirably to the challenge.

Fear of Negative Commentary. Public innovation communities face the same challenges as social media. The conversations are broadcast far and wide, but good brands can take a negative comment and turn it on its head. Also, once a well-moderated community is launched, the overall sentiments are overwhelmingly positive. People enjoy interaction and brands that will listen to them. With a good communications strategy, it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter innovation trolls.

Fear of Delivery. This is perhaps the most common fear. That if you receive ideas… then you’ll actually have to DO something about them. Well, this is absolutely true. Failure to respond to ideas and implement some of them will undoubtedly cause you trouble. However, you don’t have to implement every idea and ideas that don’t align to your capabilities, resources, and goals shouldn’t be implemented. Find the ideas that have legs and make sure that you launch them and learn from them. For the ideas that don’t make it to implementation, use this as an opportunity to talk about why they’re not a good fit (maybe you don’t have the technology yet, maybe regulations limit your ability to launch an idea, maybe there’s not budget this year). If people feel that they’e be

The fact of the matter is that with transparent systems like these, everyone risks accountability – from the people sharing ideas, to the people who are managing them to the people who are responsible for assigning resources to promising ideas, and beyond. But that accountability is exactly why these systems perform so well, too. If people can see who’s taking responsibility – and that responsibility means communicating around ideas – not necessarily implementing all of them, they will feel that a real effort is being made to create change. And all of those leaders suddenly have tons more resources to draw on – how about those 100 people who voted on that idea? Maybe they want to help build it, review it, test it.

Once you get past the fear, it’s wide open opportunity. How do you think about crowdsourced innovation?

Innovation Is ….

Innovation IsRecently, IdeaScale reached out to its crowd to ask them to complete this sentence: Innovation Is … We received a lot of interesting answers, but we thought we’d highlight a few themes that we found in some of our favorite responses:

“Innovation is the implementation of creative ideas that are of value to the customers and profitable for the company.”

What this author reminds us is that innovation must create value. And usually that value has two end points: the individual or organization that is creating and implementing a new idea and the end user who adopts the innovation. Both have to experience value or it is unlikely that an innovation will get very far. After all, if an organization cannot benefit from an innovation, why would they build it? And if an end user cannot benefit from an innovation, why would they use it?

“Innovation is a novel approach to an issue that makes everyday life a bit easier.”

Innovation must serve a need. Whether you’re working with a B2C innovation or a B2B innovation, there is some gap that is being fulfilled by your innovation. This can be a big change or a small one, but there is some overall gain, otherwise there’s no reason for someone to adopt it.

“Innovation is having a vision for a solution to a problem and having the patience and determination to make it happen at any cost.”

This is perhaps our favorite theme: innovation must get beyond the idea. An idea that never sees the light of day will never be an innovation. Ideas don’t create value for anyone, it’s the delivered solution that creates value and those ideas are often only realized after a great deal of hard work and determination. So at the end of the day, it’s not the company with the most ideas, but the one that can repeatedly deliver on good ideas that achieves greatness.

If you’re interested in learning how others define innovation, download our complimentary infographic on the subject, which shares definitions from Scott Berkun, Henry Chesbrough, and many others.

What are the Limits of Innovation?

Limits of InnovationWe are living in a time when most science fiction fantasy seem possible. After all, we are living in the world of bionic limbs, stem cell research, and artificial intelligence. Because of all this, sometimes it seems like there’s nothing we can’t do. But is that true? What are the limits of innovation?

Innovation leaders sometimes define innovation as the intersection of desirability, feasibility, and viability. This working definition is sometimes the criteria used to rank order promising ideas. But it’s also useful in thinking about the limits of innovation.

Desirability

This is probably one of the fundamental components of innovation and one of the key value adds of a system like IdeaScale. Assessing desirability in the form of votes (or sometimes in volunteer resources or money or by using other methods) is a great way to find out if an idea has legs. Even if it’s an interesting idea, but it’s not very popular, then it’s unlikely to find an audience willing to spend their time or money on it and the idea won’t last and it reaches the limits of innovation.

Feasibility

If you simply can’t achieve the core components of an idea, then you reach the limits of innovation. For example, it would be a great idea to solve crimes by downloading the last 20 minutes of thoughts from a victim’s brain. Unfortunately, that technology does not exist…. (but maybe it’ll be next year’s runaway sci-fi hit on Netflix?) Of course, feasibility isn’t always just about global capabilities, but your capabilities as an organization. Do you have the talent and track record to be able to deliver on any given idea – if not, you’ve reached your innovation limit.

Viability

Perhaps the most nebulous quality to define, but also one of the most important if an innovation is going to have lasting impact. If your idea is associated with a fad rather than a persistent trend or certain laws or regulations eclipse the idea’s potential, then you have reached the limits of innovation.

How do you conceive of the limits of innovation?

5 Brands with Inspiring Sustainable Innovation Stories

Sustainable Innovation StoriesIt doesn’t matter what industry you’re in – one of the key innovation trends is sustainability. That means business practices, products, packaging, etc.  Almost all of our customers have run a sustainability campaign (and if they haven’t yet – they’re planning on doing so soon). But there are a few brands with new innovative offerings that we truly find inspiring so we thought we’d highlight them here:

Lego. Lego created a new line of Lego blocks that are shaped like plants, but they are also made out of sugarcane so are more sustainable than their traditional plastic. Considering it will take about 450 years for a piece of plastic to break down (that means basically every piece of plastic that was ever created still exists…), moving to more sustainable materials is a big move!

Avery Dennison. Avery Dennison is known for its labels and packaging solutions – which is sometimes the hardest part of recycling materials. With its new product called WashOff – it cleanly removes labeling from glass or other containers when submerged in hot water, which means that it will be easier for anyone to recycle materials. When you think about the prediction that “when U.S. recycling levels reach 75% it will be the environmental and CO2 equivalent of removing 55 million cars from U.S. roads each year” – things like this could make a huge impact.

Adidas. Adidas has debuted shoes with biodegradable biosteel fiber. In addition to its new levels of sustainability, it has other benefits like being 15% lighter in weight than other synthetic fibers and is (possibly) one of the strongest natural materials made.

Johnson & Johnson. J&J has made a commitment to sustainable innovation by creating its own award for products in their brand family that are thought leaders in sustainability. Earthwards honors those who “incorporate sustainable thinking across the entire product lifecycle, including design, manufacturing and product use.” One example of a winner was HARMONIC FOCUS®+ Shears with Adaptive Tissue Technology. These Shears reduce product materials and packaging, which  “decreases the hazardous waste of hospitals by six pounds per 100 devices.”

Hershey’s. Hershey’s has made a major investment (half a Billion dollars!) into sourcing sustainable cocoa. This is an important challenge to overcome for companies like Hershey’s, because some people say that we’re heading towards a global cocoa crisis, mostly because cocoa farmers live in extreme poverty and are therefore unlikely to keep farming this crop, which is just as vulnerable to disease and poor cultivation as any other.

Studies have also shown companies that lead in sustainability are 400% more likely to be considered innovation leaders, as well. That’s an impressive correlation. The reason this relationship exists is because thinking creatively about these types of problems often leads to creative solutions in other areas, as well. To learn more about the relationship between innovation and sustainability, download our infographic.  

Are Digital Transformation and Innovation the Same Thing?

Digital Transformation and InnovationSome companies have an innovation strategy. Some companies have a digital transformation strategy. Are these the same thing? The short answer is “no” but both efforts are important and here’s a brief explanation and an example of each of them.

Innovation

Innovation is the introduction of any significant, positive change. This can be changes in public policy, small improvements to a company’s processes, totally new, disruptive product offerings, and more. Global Innovation Management Institute’s describes the distribution of innovation possibilities into one of five categories: business model, production, offering, delivery, and market innovation. And those innovations can be either small, incremental changes that improve an existing concept to huge, transformational that shift the foundation of an organization. It is a pretty inclusive term for progress (sometimes maddeningly so since it covers progress in both range and scope).

An example of a workplace production innovation was a new sick PTO policy co-created by NYU employees. In an online employee conversation about a sick time buy-back process improvement, employees began to think of other ways it might benefit workers and instead decided to create a PTO donation policy for co-workers in need. Employees then shared shared suggestions about how to create this new program and identified best practices from institutions with similar programs.

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is not just moving all processes into a digital format, but fundamentally shifting thinking to accommodate the digital environment into all products and processes (online and offline). In this way, a lot of digital transformation can be innovation, because it can improve products or processes incrementally or have more sweeping changes (like fundamentally changing a company’s business model).

Porsche demonstrated digital transformation thinking by not only launching “Car Connect” (an app which handles everything from navigation services to real-time traffic information, reading out news to selecting music), but it has asked for feedback and invites co-creative commentary from its entire employee base. Car Connect and other systems gather customer data that help optimize experiences over time, but also help to report on product performance.

Does your company have an innovation or a digital transformation strategy? Both? Neither?

An Innovation Lexicon

Innovation lexiconInnovation means different things to different people.

Sometimes it’s hard to have a good conversation about innovation, because people understand the concept in very different ways. Let’s start with a general definition that states “Innovation is something new and useful” incorporates both the concepts of novelty and value. Of course questions arise: What things? How new and new for whom? How useful do they have to be?

The way we think about innovation has changed over time. When Edison first established a deliberate, organized process to produce new things of value at his lab at Menlo Park in the late nineteenth century, he was in fact re-inventing the process of invention itself. When I was doing my MBA in the early eighties, the London Business School did not offer a single course on innovation. Over two years I believe we went through just one case study on how to produce and market a new technology (it was on fiber optics).

Today when some people talk about innovation they mean inventing or adopting new technology.

Others define innovation as entrepreneurship – starting a new business.

For an academic or science-based organization innovation is primarily research and development and has a very broad scope – from generating new insights with no possible present use, to inventing new things for a market that is likely to exist in the future, to improving things we already have for markets we have defined today.

Information technologists may argue that innovation is mostly about new processes or process re-engineering.

Outside the capitalist loop, we have the proponents of social innovation – developing new things which have a demonstrable social value. Or of Jugaad – small, smart innovation for ordinary people.

The power of collaboration beyond the confines of a conventional organization are leading many to crowdsourcing and crowdfunding innovation – so independent parties work together to design, produce and finance new things. This is not only a practice of poor little start-ups but giants like IBM and Procter and Gamble.

Innovation is when breakthroughs are made. Innovation is significant new strategies and new business models. Innovation is continuously improving lots of little things. In all cases innovation is change. In most cases innovation is progress. Do we all appreciate the fact that innovation is now a way of life for all human beings?

All of these definitions carry interesting insights. Each approach has different parameters and different points of emphasis. Their utility is often a matter of context. Defining precisely what your own organization’s innovation is all about, is a crucial step to making it happen.

This is a guest post is authored by  Dimis Michaelides who is a keynote speaker and author on innovation, creativity and leadership. He has extensive international experience as a business executive and as a speaker in corporate  and public events. He also offers workshops and change management consulting for private businesses, NGOs and public organizations.

His model for innovation was published in his book The Art of Innovation© – Integrating Creativity in Organizations and followed by Leading Innovation in Practice – a Roadmap for Innovation in Organizations.

Experiences with Dimis are out-of-the-ordinary, designed to have a lasting and practical impact. He blends subject-matter expertise with each individual client’s needs, participants’ energy and  … a touch of  magic! Contact him at [email protected]

Four Real-World Examples of Innovation in Healthcare

Innovation is changing how we care for each other.

Healthcare is constantly in the news as an industry, and if you pay attention, what most catches attention is how desperately it needs innovation. Whether it’s the paperwork in the backend or the need for powerful solutions to complex public health problems, innovation platforms are finding new ways to make the world a happier, healthier place. Here are three promising examples of innovation in healthcare that may inspire others in the industry:

Fighting HIV and AIDS

Dreams is a group dedicated to helping girls and women by reducing HIV infection rates through education and prevention. However, this is a far more complicated task than just explaining the routes of HIV transmission and offering prophylactic solutions: Any approach to reducing HIV/AIDS has to look to social good. Their innovation strategy led them, as an example, to bolster education funding to ensure girls in Malawi finish secondary school, as better education is directly correlated with lower infection rates.

Tackling Addiction

Substance abuse is a major health crisis in America, costing society billions in lost productivity, law enforcement costs, and medical care. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, is hoping to change that by looking into app design. One of the most important factors in reducing the social cost of substance abuse is the ability to quickly gather and report data. NIDA’s most recent campaign was to create an idea for an app that allows citizen researchers and professionals to effectively work in the field, offering NIDA ideas on how the app would work and what tools it should offer. Instead of anonymous survey data, NIDA will get real, concrete data into a genuine problem.

A doctor today has access to innovation strategies undreamed of decades ago.

Eradicating Cancer

Cancer is an enormously complicated family of illnesses, and part of the problem for researchers is figuring out where to marshal a truly enormous set of resources and volunteer energy. The Cancer Moonshot is a multi-stage process harnessing the power of crowds to determine how data should be gathered and studied, which cancers most need the power of the group, and how clinical trials of promising treatments should be developed and run. Winning the war against cancer, like any war, will take every last one of us, even if great strides have been made in the last few decades—and it starts with forming the best battle plan.

Bridging The Last Mile

Innovation is also coming to how we deliver basic services. One of the most fundamental problems with resource allocation and health is what’s called “the last mile.” Getting vaccines, water treatment equipment, and a host of other helpful materials to nations is quite easy: Mostly it’s just a matter of putting it on an airplane and getting the proper permits. It’s getting it to the villages and towns that most need it—that “last mile”—that matters the most, and it’s trickier than you might think, especially in places with barely any roads or other methods of access. Innovation platforms are helping UNICEF come up with bold new ideas to bridge that last mile and deliver healthcare to everyone.

Innovation platforms are changing the world for the better, harnessing the power of crowds to solve the thorniest problems. To see the power of innovation in action, join our newsletter!

The Role of Women in Innovation

Role of Women in InnovationA scroll through my LinkedIn today is pretty powerful. I see numerous organizations profiling and celebrating their “First Female CEO” or “Women in Charge of Blockchain” or “the Female Entrepreneurial Movement.” It’s exciting to see a more balanced future of the workplace and think that pioneering new ideas are already being championed and redeveloped by women. But it has me wondering, what do we know about the role of women in innovation management?

To begin with, we know that diversity (diversity of gender, race, age, socioeconomic status, etc) fuels innovation. In a Harvard Business Review article, it was found that firms with high levels of diversity were 45% more likely to report market growth and 70% more likely to report capture of a new market. Creating space for numerous voices and celebrating those voices (even the ones that disagree with you) will actually help fuel productivity and creative growth, so we should start the discussion there: that there are far more kinds of diversity to consider beyond gender.

But women are coming up and “between 1997 and 2006, businesses fully women-owned, or majority-owned by women, grew at nearly twice the rate of all U.S. firms.” Gender diverse firms are also 15 percent more likely to deliver better financial returns overall. And female entrepreneurship is currently experiencing a surge as more and more women become educated and enter roles traditionally held by men. And a recent finding – one that I find particularly interesting for innovation – female founders are on an upward trend.  It’s an exciting time and I expect that the future of innovation will be shared equally by men and women.

Psychology Today published an interesting finding that people will tolerate failure more easily in a man, because he is perceived to be a risk taker and that women are expected to work to steward new ideas through to completion because they are more adaptive. The article proposes making sure that all innovation teams have an equal gender representation, but I would also argue that we should begin shifting attitudes so that innovation failure and success is equally tolerable across both sexes or the workplace will eventually prove an unsustainable environment for new ideas.

And this brings me to a second thought about gender and innovation. Many people think that as one identity begins to excel, it means that another must decelerate, but in innovation (as I suspect, anywhere else), it is not an either/or but a new opportunity to partner as all groups gain the opportunity to learn new skills and in the end what wins is not an idea’s author, but the idea itself.