Gen Z: The Uber Generation

The Gen Z EffectThe post-Millenial generation is changing the face of business, society, our global ecology, and beyond. For organizations that are seeking the innovation edge, the key to their next evolution is likely in eliminating the barriers that separate generations in order to establish an ecosystem of continuous innovation. This is the subject of Tom Koulopoulos’ and Dan Keldsen’s The Gen Z Effect: The Six Forces Shaping the Future of Business. We had the good fortune to interview one of the book’s authors, Dan Keldsen, today. The following is our interview.

IS: The book is The Gen Z Effect, but could you introduce us to your authors?

DK: The Gen Z Effect comes as a result of a 20+ year friendship, the first 13 of which were directly working together as the CEO (Tom) and CTO (Dan) of Delphi Group. This is Tom’s 10th book, and Dan’s 1st. They both share a lifelong love of learning and researching the cutting edge of technology, where it’s been, where it’s taking us, and how we and our businesses can make the most of it, together, right now.

IS: Your book is designed to be share-able, tweetable, and consumable in multiple formats. I love that there are even points in the ebook that are designed to be innately shared on social media. Could you distill your book into a tweet summary here?

DK: In under 140 characters:

Generational stereotypes are lazy lies. Learn, work, fund & create together. Leverage behavior not labels to win. #GenZ

IS: You say in your book that there isn’t a particular birth date for Gen Z, but a set of behaviors that are associated with members of that generation. What are the behaviors that characterize as Gen Z behaviors?

DK: With Gen Z, we’re saying that we’ve reached the point in history when Gen Z is effectively the last generation. With Gen Z, we are Breaking Generations down as the long-held myths that they are, and that frees us to look at the behaviors that we’re ALL exhibiting, led by Gen Z, and picked up (or revealed) by prior generations.

The behaviors springing from The Gen Z Effect are summed up in the Six Forces we’ve identified:

Breaking Generations: facing the imminent and immensely disruptive population redistribution that equalizes the number of humans globally in each of the thirteen five-year age groups from birth to sixty- four. (i.e., ages 0–4, 5–9, 10–14, . . . 60–64)

Hyperconnecting: moving toward exponential hyperconnectivity among people, computers, machines, and objects.

Slingshotting: exploiting disruptive advances in user experience and affordability that turn what was the cutting edge of technology into the norm, allowing large segments of the population to catch up, seemingly overnight, with technology pioneers.

Shifting from Affluence to Influence: leveraging the ever increasing ability to influence world events through communities that cut across age and other demographic boundaries, without the benefit of access to large pools of capital.

Adopting the World As My Classroom: pushing toward global availability and affordability of education through all levels of schooling and for any age.

Lifehacking: breaking through barriers, taking shortcuts, and other- wise outsmarting the system so that we can focus on outcomes rather than processes, making meaning and purpose the center of our personal and professional experience.

Without going into exhaustive detail on all of the behavioral examples we cover, some samples of the behaviors that result from the Six Forces are:

Breaking Generations = dropping the assumptions that you’re too young to lead/manage, raise capital, or have “good ideas” or that you’re too old to get new technology, new behaviors, etc. Everyone can and will contribute or participate, if they see a reason to.

Hyperconnecting = with smart phones in almost every hand (in developed countries, and quickly rising in developing countries), there is almost never a time when you could legitimately not have direct access to the information or people that you need. This may mean we are impatient for instant gratification, but it also means we are able to make faster decisions, learn things more rapidly, and connect nearly instantly with people almost anywhere on the planet. The time when there was life BG (Before Google), seems almost impossible. How did you get anywhere? Meet up with anyone? Know what restaurant to go to? How to fix a flat tire?

Slingshotting = one of the significant behavior changes is that touch interfaces, wireless networking, and voice controls, have made what used to be very user-hostile technology, into something that is literally “always on” your person, by your bed, in your pocket. When people who have never owned a computer, throughout the 70s until now, are suddenly walking around with them in their pocket, it’s easy to see that we have a whole set of behaviors that are truly across all generations. Technology doesn’t have to be expensive, hostile, and only for the early adopters – we’re on the cusp of a completely different technology revolution now that everyone expects great apps in the palm of their hand, that work instantly and with minimal effort.

IS: In The Gen Z Effect you spend time talking about how employee engagement should be a top priority. But could you spend a minute talking about why it is so crucial not just to the employees, but to the enterprise itself?

DK: I’ve found that it’s dangerous to only look at issues from the “company first” perspective, that’s why so many “corporate initiatives” fail (particularly technology-driven social/collaboration and innovation initiatives). The employees are disengaged from the entire process, and there is quite literally nothing in it for them. It falls out of the sky, with poor internal marketing/sales (aka internal communications), and the “corporate transformation” rolls off of the disengaged employees, like water off a duck’s back.

So a significant portion of The Gen Z Effect from a corporate perspective is that you need to look at what EVERYONE is looking to get out of their work, life and the business itself. Executives and human resources departments may often say that “their people are their most valuable assets” – but that myth has been exploded so often that it’s easy to be cynical and treat such mantras as veiled threats that you actually are, as it turns out, replaceable.

The reality is that nobody is irreplacable, companies don’t last forever, and lifelong employment is a thing of the past

But… despite the doom and gloom of what passes for news these days, there are far more opportunities available for people than at any time in history.

This is all thanks to forces like Lifehacking (specifically crowdfunding as way to unleash capital from the largest pool of investors possible) , crowdsourcing), Hyperconnecting (social networks, data networks), and life-long learning opportunities, at prices and quality that have never been seen before).

IS: What does innovation look like in a post-generational world?

Innovation is no longer limited to the lone entrepreneur or strictly for the Research and Development department. With the rise of the app economy, crowdfunding and crowdsourcing of and by employees (at work within companies like IBM), and the employee-to-employee learning opportunities spreading across Silicon Valley companies and beyond, innovation is now open to everyone, inside or outside of work.

IS: Do you have a greatest hope for Gen Z (bearing in mind, of course, that the exponential problems and solutions are beyond the ken of our own generation)?

DK: That we continue to break down the myths of the generational gaps we’ve been told that divide us, and forge the kind of strong, cross-generational teams that we’ve found throughout our research, pulling the best from the youngest and oldest among us alike. Only by doing that will humanity will be able to solve the great challenges that lie ahead.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Gen-Z effect, pre-order your copy today and receive a special offer from IdeaScale.

Support the Vote: 3 Reasons IdeaScale Loves Voting

In case you hadn’t heard, IdeaScale loves voting! It’s part of crowdsourcing, part of our platform and part of our culture here at work. In fact, anyone who wants to take a free vacation day on Election Day in order to volunteer at the polls is welcome to do so. This year, nearly two-thirds of the home office will be volunteering at precincts all around the Bay Area on November 4th.

But why are we so jazzed about voting? Well, there are a lot of reasons, but here are a few:

1. Voting is so natural that instances of it are even observable in the animal kingdom. Some studies have noted that “consensus decision making is common in non-human animals, and that cooperation between group members in the decision-making process is likely to be the norm (more so than monarchal and dictatorial approaches to decision-making). Can voting be classified as a “certified organic” process?

2. Voting has some serious precedent. The right to vote originated in ancient Athens, the birthplace of democracy. Democracy came about in the fifth century BC. Even now in Greece, anyone over the age of 18 is required to vote.

3. It’s going to change a lot in the next 50 years. Voting has been a part of us for a long time, but with the digital age in full swing, it’s never been easier to feel the power of a groundswell movement. What voting looks like now is just the beginning and it will continue to evolve in numerous ways as the technology develops and becomes more integrated into numerous processes.

We hope that if you’re in the Bay Area, we run into you in our precincts. Or that we don’t, because you’ve already mailed in your ballot. And our now well-trained team of volunteers can educate you on ranked-choice voting or provisional ballots or any other questions that you might have.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @IdeaScale for poll station selfies and updates throughout the day on November 4th and, in the meantime, please enjoy this Rock the Vote message from Lil’ Jon and friends.

IdeaScale is Ranked #513 on the Inc. 5000

inc5000_num_513It’s been nearly five years since IdeaScale launched it’s first campaign – an Open Gov initiative from the office of President Obama. We were recently ranked #513 on the Inc. 5000 list.  In the three years Inc based the rank on we’ve grown by 916%, and added 16 new members to our team. We are elated by the news, and proud of what we’re growing into. For us that 513 meant moving into a larger office with extra space and a bigger fridge. It also meant development on all fronts.

We’ve learned from our users – both the moderators running our software and the end users driving the results. In 2010 we enhanced moderator customization with features like moderator fields, custom fields for selective emailing, and tags.

By 2011 we were working on our gamifcation game. Community leaderboards were already in full swing, encouraging participation by showing users how they ranked against their peers. Two years in, we used what we’d learned from user behavior and added in customizable badges – a way to celebrate all of the participation styles required to build the most robust innovation operation. Getting beyond points and votes brings character to a community, and rewards more users.

Innovation is king, it’s what drives us to build our software. Working directly with our customers means we’ve had a first row seat to over 13,000 innovation campaigns. The number one lesson we learned? Innovation is a process. Introducing assessment tools and our newest edition, ReviewScale – decision matrix software that allows you to weigh ideas across factors and restrictions before you put them into implementation.

Of course, we aren’t done growing. As more businesses and organizations find ways to integrate innovation into their process, our job shifts into exciting new territory. A huge thank you to Inc. for the recognition, and an equally huge thank you to all of the innovators who have set up, moderated, or participated in an IdeaScale community.

4 Lessons Learned from IdeaScale’s OI Awards

image curtesy of mo riza via flickr

image curtesy of mo riza via flickr

One of the most important reasons that IdeaScale hosts the IdeaScale Open Innovation Awards is to be able to learn, share, and develop industry-leading best practices that we can share with our subscribers our the broader innovation community. We learned a lot from our winners last year, because the layered creativity on top of standard best practices and there are a few of them that we want to share on here today.

A Well-Defined Process Is Linked To Measurable ROI. Whether it was about an engagement strategy or the ability to assess company savings, the communities that had defined their process well were able to report real results. We think that means that a company with a great pre-launch strategy is going to be better able to articulate their success in the end. Plan accordingly.

The Magic Combination of Online and Offline. The most successful solutions were great at crossing the bridge between online and offline communications. Not only would they promote their community digitally, but they would also showcase it in employee roadshows or have a real wall featuring innovative ideas from the community.

Time-Limited Challenges Create Urgency. Even when the goal is ongoing innovation, adding a deadline often helps people get excited and involved. Someone once told me that the best method of spurring creativity was a simple tool. He said it’s invisible, everyone has it and it works without fail: a deadline. Creating short term campaigns (even ones that you’ll run again but will deliver new results on) keeps people returning to a community.

Work with Your Partners to Increase Reach. Partner networks are a great resource that can help you enrich your network. If you arm them with the tools to communicate with their audience, then they’ll help funnel more life into your community. The Cerebral Palsy Alliance provides their organizations with posters, pamphlets, email templates, tweets and more to help those networks begin the conversation.

To learn more from last year’s winners, check out their stories here:

    –  Yale
    –  Marriott
    –  UNCW
    –  State of Minnesota
    –  The Cerebral Palsy Alliance

If you’d like to nominate a community to become a winner in this year’s IdeaScale Open Innovation Awards, please visit our site.

The Value of a Value Proposition

value propositionIt is not uncommon in the Bay Area to have people skip right over some of the most commonly thought of questions for entrepreneurs. Things like “what’s your great idea?” or “give me your elevator pitch” fall by the wayside in favor of a different question: what is your value proposition?

To be fair, if you’re developing a truly innovative great idea – you’re going to come up against all those questions eventually, but the value proposition is something that lies at the heart of it all and is something that separates an idea from a business.

For those of you who don’t want to do the googling, I’ll tell you that Wikipedia defines a value proposition as “a promise of value to be delivered and acknowledged and a belief from the customer that value will be appealed and experienced […] Creating a value proposition is a part of business strategy. Kaplan and Norton say ‘Strategy is based on a differentiated customer value proposition. Satisfying customers is the source of sustainable value creation.’”

There are numerous ways to get at answers that help shape not just a value proposition, but an entire business plan. However, the Enterprise Development Group is a team of expert thinkers, facilitators and trainers who have been consulting since 1986 have developed a template for organizations to refine their ideas and turn them into articulate business plans that has been utilized by numerous businesses large and small. The template is called CO-STAR.

CO-STAR is a series of questions that must be answered in order to articulate an innovation’s value proposition. When applied, this template helps companies answer questions like: Will the idea be relevant to a customer? Will there be a market for it? How is it taking advantage of an emerging trend or a new technology? Is it better than other available alternatives? What kind of returns can be expected? Once articulated, it is easier to develop market-worthy ventures.

This is why IdeaScale created the CO-STAR module within the innovation management tool, so that this kind of business plan thinking can be applied to every great idea. If you want to learn more about CO-STAR and how it can help propel your brand forward, join IdeaScale in hosting EDG and BBC in a webinar about converting great ideas into great business plans. This complimentary webinar will take place on October 21st at 9 a.m. PST and be followed by a live Q&A. Register today.

The World Cerebral Palsy Alliance is Asking for Help from the Crowd

WCPD14_Logo_USA_HRChange My Wold in 1 Minute, the IdeaScale community launched by the World Cerebral Palsy Alliance, is nearing the end of its idea and vote phase. In celebration of World CP Day, the community gathers ideas on how to improve the lives of those living their lives with CP. Submissions can be written or in video form, but here’s the catch – it must take the reader (or viewer) one minute or less to take in your idea!

With hundreds of ideas already submitted, the community is now open to voting. Competition is heating up, as a People’s Choice Prize of $500 will be awarded to the submitter of the top voted idea. Of course, all ideas will be reviewed by a panel including the most expert of experts – individuals living with CP and their families.

The current campaign is the third annual challenge of it’s kind. Through this campaign the World CP Alliance is able to promote education and awareness. But they ask that audience to do more than just listen – they want everyone to join in the charge. If everyone could donate just 1 minute, how much change could we see?

This year long event culminates in teams presenting actual solutions to the problems and ideas laid out in the World CP community. Year’s past have seen some incredible work, and this year’s challenge will certainly result in more amazing designs. Until the end of October, you don’t have to be an expert, you don’t have to be able to build a solar powered wheelchair, or a an exercise program designed for people with CP, all you have to do is join the community and vote! Visit the campaign here to see all of the already submitted ideas and vote on your favorites. Don’t miss any ideas, log in regularly as ideas are still being submitted. The People’s Choice most popular idea might be yours!

Going further with crowdsourced user testing: The System Usability Scale

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Opening your ears and eyes to input from every level is critical to staying innovative – a lesson the folks behind TryMyUI put into practice with crowdsourced web usability testing that connects businesses and organizations with real users and their concerns and insights. Video, audio, and written feedback are all invaluable in optimizing your website for the customer, but they don’t fill all the gaps in your self-understanding.

Imagine an Olympic swimmer that watches video to improve his form, invests in the newest and most advanced swimwear, and trains in the best of facilities. Every time he beats his personal record, he is making progress; but it’s hard to know what that progress means until he compares his time to the other top swimmers’ personal bests. In the same way, it is easier to understand and make the most of usability feedback when it is placed in the context of the bigger picture – How does your website chalk up to the myriad others? In what aspects is it stronger, or weaker? Grounding your user feedback in a broader context allows for a complete understanding of the nuances of not just your own system, but also of the global system of which it is a part.

Fortunately, a tool exists already that has been used for decades to this very purpose. The System Usability Scale (SUS) is a widely respected questionnaire that quantifies and standardizes usability data, allowing UX researchers to make meaningful comparisons between feedback that, in its video/audio form, is subjective and non-measurable. Today something of an industry standard in the usability field, SUS has long been a favorite for its simplicity and accuracy: ten questions, a five-point “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” response system, and a quick scoring algorithm yield an extremely reliable score for your website on a scale of 0 to 100.

1. I think that I would like to use this system frequently.
2. I found the system unnecessarily complex.
3. I thought the system was easy to use.
4. I think that I would need the support of a technical person to be able to use this system.
5. I found the various functions in this system were well integrated.
6. I thought there was too much inconsistency in this system.
7. I would imagine that most people would learn to use this system very quickly.
8. I found the system very cumbersome to use.
9. I felt very confident using the system.
10. I needed to learn a lot of things before I could get going with this system

SUS response scale

With thousands of previously documented uses to compare to, SUS gives you a solid idea of users’ overall satisfaction with your website, and can even be broken down into usability and learnability components. The percentile ranking contextualizes your raw score, allowing you to understand how your site performs relative to others; and some researchers have tried, with some success, to map adjectives like “excellent,” “poor,” or “worst imaginable” to individual scores for extra insight.

SUS quartiles and adjectives

By various accounts, the mean SUS score hovers around 68-70.5 (a score that roughly corresponds, as it happens, to the adjective “good,” though falling quite short of “excellent”). Normalizing score distribution with percentiles therefore makes a 68 (or a 70.5) into a 50% – better than half of all other systems tested, and worse than the other half.

Though described by its inventor as a “quick and dirty” measure, studies have found SUS to be among the most accurate and reliable of all usability surveys, across sample sizes. It has today become one of the most successful metrics for quantifying system satisfaction, with thousands using it to gauge user-friendliness over a wide range of products online and off.

It is these qualities that make SUS so key in getting a holistic picture of your website. By aggregating and synthesizing a diverse array of tester responses into a concise portrait of website usability, SUS brings a deeper understanding of what your user feedback really means. If individual test videos are the trees, SUS shows you not only the forest, but the entire ecosystem into which your system fits; with a widely-trusted industry standard to rely on, you can take a step back from your own company and see how you fit into the broader world that surrounds you.

To learn more about the System Usability Scale and its application in UX research, join TryMyUI and Measuring Usability’s Jeff Sauro for the SUS Webinar on October 9.

 

Innovation Without Borders: Creating Change Movements November 18th, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. PST

innowobordersWhat if your brainstorming group went global?

Building a successful innovation program requires flexible boundaries between disciplines, a focus on multiple organizational goals, and the ability to measure value beyond the bottom line. Enter innovation without borders – the ability to connect globally with multiple networks that will propel a business forward.

Everyone is now familiar with what they call Joy’s Law: “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.” Sourcing ideas globally, publicly from a rich network of stakeholders, customers, subject matter experts and beyond is a resource that is now available to organizations of all sizes in this digital age.

Join IdeaScale in this exclusive webinar that explores the boundaries of ideation, the best practices that are part of borderless innovation, and the structure that helps shape success. This webinar will cover:

•  An introduction to borderless innovation

•  A discussion of how technology supplements borderless innovation

•  A summary of how innovation without borders was applied in a global competition

The webinar will include a live Q&A with the speakers. Join us and register for this complimentary webinar today!

Speakers Include:
Prith Banerjee, Managing Director of Global Technology R&D, Accenture
Rob Hoehn, CEO, IdeaScale
Aneesh Chopra, former CTO of the United States

Beyond the Idea

image curtesy of firelknot via flickr.

image curtesy of firelknot via flickr

A great idea can be hard won or emerge in a moment. But the idea isn’t the end of the journey, it’s only the beginning. The ground between a great idea and a great success spans development, launch, and reception.

Google’s gmail took over three years to develop, it launched in beta eight years after it was first attempted. The early development, where it was used internally, and the beta stages accessible by invite only users, allowed google, a search site, to refine their new offering. It’s hard now to remember a time when the launch of gmail seemed questionable, but at the time of launch is was poised to be a breakthrough, or a miserable failure. From the search function to the massive storage, the free email functioned more as an app than its competitors’ website centered functionality. Every feature that set google apart represented a user preference. (Time)

An idea must have an audience, as 3M chemist Spencer Silver discovered. Silver discovered a mild adhesive, just strong enough to attach to an object, but weak enough for the bond to be broken, and then adhesive to still adhere to a new surface. Unfortunately, this discovery was made in the process of attempting to create new, stronger adhesives, so Silver’s discovery was officially shelved. Undeterred, Silver persisted in sharing his discovery with his coworkers and colleagues. The core idea of the adhesive became the post-it note when another 3M employee sought a way to get his bookmarks to stay in a book without falling out. (NPR)

The development phase is where an idea turns into a market worthy offering with strong value proposition. As valuable as this development is, a succinct template for refinement can improve time to market. On October 21st IdeaScale is broadcasting a complimentary webinar to introduce CO-STAR: a refinement template and new module within our innovation management tool. Guests from EDG, the creators of the CO-STAR method, and the BBC will present the template and share use cases. Register today.

IdeaScale Open Innovation Awards: What We’re Looking For

open innovation awards

image curtesy of seth waite via flickr

IdeaScale’s second annual Open Innovation Awards are live and taking submissions! We’re taking submissions in three categories: Best Engagement strategy, Best Moderation Strategy, and Best Innovation. Prizes include Apple iPad Minis, discounted 2015 IdeaScale subscriptions, and the chance to fast track a new, 2015 IdeaScale feature. So what are we looking for in submissions?

Unique Approaches – Approaching problems with new systems and ideas is what innovation is all about. How has your community approached its mission? From the questions and topics being tackled, to the community set-up, idea submission and nurture, and how information is relayed back to the community – tell us about the approach that made your campaign run.

Creativity – The IdeaScale Open Innovation Awards are a celebration of the innovating behind your campaign’s innovation. No two IdeaScale campaigns are ever the same. What makes your campaign unique? Tell us about your favorite aspect of your campaign – share the defining details.

New Tactics – How did you get your community to submit ideas? To vote and comment? How did you maintain levels of engagement? Share the behind-the-scenes work that went into making your campaign flourish.

Quantifiable Metrics – It’s okay, go ahead and brag – you’ve earned it. We’re looking for the full picture of your achievements. When you submit, share the metrics of your success.

Planning and executing an innovation campaign is a large undertaking in any industry. The IdeaScale Open Innovation Awards are your chance to share what you’ve learned and accomplished at your IdeaScale campaign with the innovation community. Submissions will be accepted until November 14th, 2014, but don’t wait – submit today.