Innovation Possibilities: What Companies Should Really Focus On

Concept of six ability in human brainThere was a time when a designer might say “A camel is a horse designed by committee.” It was a disparaging metaphor to warn you of what would happen if you designed anything by a committee with no unifying vision. The metaphor also implies (by some interpretations) that input of any kind from a committee would seal your fate and doom your project.

Times are changing (and for what it’s worth, camels are amazing). Working in large groups is now more manageable, and the idea of a lone designer is fading into obscurity, at least to the extent that we’ve been given better tools to communicate and collaborate.

Social media and cloud computing have contributed enormously to collaborative problem solving and creative thinking. Cloud-based services have become game changers for technological advancement. Business models that have embraced collaborations over the Internet have brought sorely needed resources to inventors/co-inventors and collaborators alike.

Brainstorming in the cloud: In terms of intellectual property, it presents an interesting twist to our history. The contribution of independent inventors has been in decline since the 1880’s. In the 1930’s, independent inventors were responsible for about half of all U.S. patents; a turning point with respect to who contributes most to U.S. innovation.

With the introduction of social media and cloud computing, the virtual dichotomy that existed between independent and corporate innovators began to break down. Instead of approaching banks or individual investors for capital, many inventors have been supported by crowdfunding campaigns. Likewise, the practice of developing contacts through traditional word-of-mouth introductions have been replaced with online entrepreneurial groups. Sites like meetup.com are driving in-person meetings all over the country.

As the landscape of R&D has changed, so has that of academic and scientific endeavors. Sites like zooniverse and fold.it invite anyone to join and help solve scientific problems.

Innovation doesn’t always develop into a patent or research paper. The same basic crowdsourcing model can be applied to any area of ideation, whether it be a political/social policy, the floorplan of a new church, the next great science fiction series, or a musical composition.

Although this article focuses mainly on the Internet for enhancing human collaborations, the theme of cloud computing extends to the idea of combining the power of many computers to solve complex problems.

Managing Ideation: The Internet has become the conduit for a flood of ideas, almost too many to appreciate or exploit. Innovation management has evolved in response to that persistent torrent of creative thinking. Although the business models vary for each social network, the first three steps are the same:

1. Create a network from which collaborators can develop and share ideas.

2. Attract innovative organizations, groups, corporations, etc. to your network, where they can apply their collective skills.

3. Provide a project management environment as a service, where organizations are given the ability to efficiently collect, refine, and build on the best ideas.

The process itself is analogous to a conversion funnel, where a large number of ideas enter the funnel. As ideas undergo further development and scrutiny, some will be deemed unviable and rejected. The remaining ideas are brought to fruition. A more refined explanation categorizes ideas as “breakthrough” or “incremental” and are put through different processes, one slightly more confined than the other.

A. Breakthrough Innovation: This is innovation which is fundamentally unique. In some circumstances, it’s referred to as “game-changing” or “disruptive” because it often forces competitors to rethink their own innovative path.

B. Incremental Innovation: This involves the further development of an existing product or process. It is the addition of innovation for the sake of enhanced performance/functionality or an adaptation to an alternate use.

Some sites create work environments for the benefit of others as a service, while Quirky, for example, collects ideas as part of their own product development program. Both models involve the same basic steps, which pools and directs talent for bringing ideas to fruition. Such collaborative efforts make the creative process flexible, and highly functional. In fact, it lends itself very well to mobile applications and cloud services.

The concept of “idea management” and the events that led to its emergence are representative of a significant shift in our culture. It promises to take the process of technological advancement to a level unlike anything in human history.

 

Guest Author, Ivan SerranoThis guest post is authored by Ivan Serrano, a business journalist and infographic specialist located in Northern California.

Department of Labor: Solving Problems and Raising Awareness with National Dialogues

DOL-b&wThe United States Department of Labor is a cabinet-level department of the U.S. federal government responsible for occupational safety, wage and hour standards, unemployment insurance benefits, re- employment services, and more.

ePolicyWorks is a special initiative launched by the Department of Labor which empowers web- based policymaking that engages citizens in order to address barriers to employment for people with disabilities and foster employment success of those living with disabilities. The initiative is also the award-winning host of an important series of online dialogues that enable ODEP to enlist the public’s input on key policy issues related to the employment of people with disabilities by channeling the brainpower of federal partners, nonprofits, NGOs and other stakeholders. IdeaScale is the platform for collaboration.

The Department of Labor has hosted more than seven online dialogues utilizing the IdeaScale platform. Each dialogue lasts approximately four weeks and follows an adaptable seven-step process.

After launching seven dialogues, the team is proud to report:

-     This strategy has won the ePolicyworks team recognition from the Secretary of Labor as part of their Honor Awards for the Federal Partners in Transition National Online Dialogue Team.
-     Over 5,000 community members have generated more than 600 ideas and 13,000 votes across all the dialogues.
-     Every state in the US has been represented across the challenges.
-     That the dialogues have improved policy efficiency substantially. A process that has traditionally taken five-years has been collapsed into a single year.

To learn about how the national dialogues have impacted policy and for a deeper understanding of the seven steps for a successful national dialogue, download the case study here.

Innovating with COSTAR: Converting Ideas Into Business Plans

What happens when you have an idea, but what you need is a value proposition?

The process of nurturing an idea from its first inspiration into something that can be pitched in Silicon Valley requires planning, refinement, and careful consideration. Thankfully, the Enterprise Development Group is a team of expert thinkers, facilitators and trainers who have been consulting since 1986 who have also developed a template for businesses to refine their ideas. The template is called CO-STAR.

Join IdeaScale in this exclusive webinar that explores the CO-STAR approach from concept to execution with guest speakers from EDG and the BBC. The webinar will include

•  An overview of CO-STAR and its use in developing market-worthy ventures

•  A demonstration of CO-STAR within an innovation management program

•  A summary of how CO-STAR was applied at BBC

The webinar will include a live Q&A with the speakers. Join us and register for this complimentary webinar set to take place on Tuesday, October 21st at 9 a.m. PST today!

Speakers Include:

Herman Gyr, Founding Partner, EDG

Rob Hoehn, CEO, IdeaScale

Pat Younge, Former Chief Creative Officer, BBC

Successful Citizen Engagement Tuesday, September 30th, 1 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. EST

image curtesy of lee wright via flickr

image curtesy of lee wright via flickr

There is a growing trend of involving the crowd in public decision making. This practice has already been proven out in the private sector, where crowdsourcing has been used to solve longstanding issues, ranging from suggested feature improvements for mobile applications to reducing maternal mortality with technology.

The idea of involving the public isn’t new, But with the changing role of a public town hall, one has to ask “How can the engagement of the town meeting scale up from a couple thousand people standing in one location to many more than that?” or “How do you hear from the many people who can’t show up for meetings, but will show up to vote on election day and decide who’s doing a good job?”

To answer these questions, IdeaScale is offering a webinar on September 30, featuring Norm Jacknis, Director of Program Development, to review:

8 key reasons to engage citizens:

• Strategic things to consider to ensure a successful citizen dialogue
• Some interesting and thought provoking examples of citizen engagement
• The webinar will be followed by a live question and answer session.

Join us and register for this complimentary webinar today!

Change My World in One Minute

WCPD14_Logo_USA_HRRight now 17 million people around the world are living with Cerebral Palsy. Of the children living with CP:

      •  1 in 4 cannot talk
      •  1 in 3 cannot walk
      •  1 in 2 have an intellectual disability
      •  1 in 4 have epilepsy

It’s inconceivable, right? Not to the those 17 million, and not the 350 million people who are close to an adult or child with CP. That enormous crowd is at the base of the World Cerebral Palsy Day challenge: Change My World in One Minute.

This challenge has four stages, making it easy for anyone – hopefully everyone – to participate. The challenge is simple: submit a written or video, that takes a minute or less to watch or read, idea for how to improve the lives of people with CP.

      •  Stage 1: Idea Submission and Most Creative Prizes
Anyone can submit: those with CP, the people who know and love them, innovators and experts. Ideas are accepted through the end of October 2014. Apple iPads will be given out to the most innovative and creative ideas as spot prizes.

      •  Stage 2: Voting and People’s Choice Award
Voting begins October 1st and ends October 31st 2014. The participant whose idea gets the most votes in October will win the People’s Choice $500 Award.

      •  Step 3: Judging
A panel of experts made up of innovation specialists, individuals with CP and family members will review all submitted ideas. Their short list will be publicized on January 20th, 2015.

      •  Step 4: Invent It
Inventors, researchers and innovators are all welcomed to create prototypes and designs of solutions to the short listed ideas. Winners of the $30,000 prize pool are announced on July 20th, 2015.

This is the 3rd Change My World Challenge issued. In years past winners thought up a solar powered wheelchair – that was built during the Invent It! stage and a customizable walker – built for function AND style. Idea submission is already open, and drawing some great ideas already, including a portable ramp, a preschool revamped to meet the needs of kids with CP, and some really inventive mobility concepts.

Participation on any level will help make the lives of those with CP easier, and more fulfilling. An idea, a vote, or even a social media share for this event will increase awareness, and grow the crowd of innovators. A $10,000 prize will be awarded to the non-profit organization with the most clients, family members, staff, and allies participating.

So get in there and submit your best ideas. Don’t forget to celebrate World CP Day on October 1st by wearing green, spreading the world, and returning to the community to vote for the most innovative, most exciting, most life changing ideas.

The City of Atlanta Leveraging Its Most Valuable Resource – Its Employees

When Barack Obama took office five years ago, he launched the White House SAVE Award – a program that sought ideas from federal employees about how to make the government not only more effective, but also more efficient when it came to spending (hence its name: “Securing Americans Value and Efficiency”).

Every year, the President issues a call to employees asking them to share their ideas using IdeaScale technology. Every branch across the US participates in the conversation and votes on one another’s ideas. Then, the Office of Management and Budget narrows down the best ideas to a “final four” which can be viewed and voted on by the American public. The winner is granted the honor of presenting his or her idea to the President in Washington. It has been a hugely successful program that has generated millions of dollars of savings on an ongoing basis.

In 2013, the City of Atlanta followed suit and instituted a city-wide campaign that engaged all Atlantian employees in generating ideas that could reduce waste, cut red tape and save money on operations. The city launched the program with a gala celebration that instructed employees on how to use the tool followed by ongoing, city-wide communications to all employees via email that encouraged them to submit ideas. They even had an offline option for employees who didn’t have access to a computer as part of their daily routine at work.

The campaign was celebrated as a success. They generated hundreds of ideas and from those hundreds, twelve were flagged for implementation, and the top three alone were evaluated to amount to a potential cost savings of $7.1 million annually.

If you want to learn more about the City of Atlanta’s crowdsourcing success, download the case study here.

Announcing the Second Annual Open Innovation Awards

For the second year in a row IdeaScale is hosting a competition among innovators: The Open Innovation Awards. This annual contest is a way to honor the IdeaScale communities that demonstrate their exceptional innovation best practices.

The specific rules and eligibility are posted at ideascale.com/innovation-award, but the contest is open to IdeaScale members, administrators, and moderators that can demonstrate a community’s expertise in the areas of engagement, moderation, or delivery.

All entrees are due by November 14th, 2014 and must be submitted online with the application completed in a single sitting. For an advance copy of all application questions, contact jessica.day@ideascale.com. Finalists will be selected by December. Final winners will be announced before the holidays in mid-December.

Winners will receive an Apple iPad Mini, a discount on their 2015 IdeaScale subscription and a stylized and shareable press packet. All winners will also have the ability to fast track an IdeaScale feature for 2015 and be able to activate one of the higher-end features free of charge.

And if you’re interested in seeing 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!

Collaborative Crime Fighting: the Department’s Most Powerful Weapon

photo curtesy of ian britton via flick

photo curtesy of ian britton via flickr

Information travels faster now than ever before, and you don’t have to be an AARP member to notice the change. According to Pew Research, 87% of adults in the United States use the internet. When seeking community news and information, they have countless sources to tap into – from social media to government run websites. For Law Enforcement, the challenge becomes, how to keep the citizens safe and informed, when competing with these sources.

This modern quandary has a modern solution based off an old concept: Crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing comes from the private sector, but has proven useful in government innovation, citizen engagement, and keeping departments and agencies current. Crowdsourcing is a way to both connect to a large community efficiently, and to leverage their knowledge for problem solving. Creating and maintaining an online source for citizens to access the most current information about safety and law enforcement in their town empowers the community, and strengthens the force.

Foster Transparency The local community will stay apprised of the work law enforcement is doing one way or another. Departments that maintain a channel to share this information with the public are able to keep their citizens accurately informed.

Build Trust Not all law enforcement departments are trusted. Many have lost the faith of their community through real and perceived missteps. Trust can be regained by including the citizens in the work of keeping their streets safe. Government agencies at all levels utilize citizen engagement to strengthen trust, solve problems, and keep citizens informed. Police departments can benefit from the practice for all of the same reasons. By being included in the decision making process from the early stages, citizens become more likely to pay their taxes (Democracy Spot).

Community Policing This network of engaged citizens are now an asset. The New South Wales Police Force connected found that working with their community to solve crimes boosted information brought in about crimes by 20% (IACP). In a year and a half the Philadelphia Police Department made over 100 arrests based on help from their community. The PPD posts the information they have to an online source, and asks citizens for help (IACP).

Crowdsourcing, Usability and Accessibility with the Federal Government

image curtesy of Jisc via flick

image curtesy of Jisc via flickr

Today’s guest post comes from user experience experts, TryMyUI.

Think about the last time you wanted to look up a statistic, apply for a new passport, or had a tax question. The federal government provides vital services to the citizens via the Internet, and with the use of a website your questions can be answered in a matter of seconds.

Naturally, the usability of a website is crucial. We have all been frustrated with a site that loads too slowly, has confusing navigation labels, or has a color so flashy that your head hurts. If a site does not have great web usability, usage becomes difficult, and for the less web savvy – impossible.

Crowdsourcing (the child of crowd and outsourcing), coalesces input from the collective brainpower of the public into rich, humanized data. Through a crowdsourcing application, Government agencies can gather information directly from representatives of target demographics. The data accumulated can be mined for any number of uses, in this case, for tweaking websites for accessibility.

Use Case: the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
To find relevant facts and statistics on labor and employment in the US, the Bureau requires consistently high quality data. This data comes from online surveys and evaluations targeted at the general population, and in turn is presented in written web material on various websites. The BLS needed to test the usability of its online survey questions and written web material in order to weed out any errors or confusing patches.

They used TryMyUI, a crowd sourced remote UI usability testing company, for this feedback. The BLS used specially selected testers (in their desired demographic) to narrate their thoughts and actions as they performed a series of tasks on a statistical dissemination site or took a survey, in addition to answering pre-set questions by the BLS. TryMyUI’s software tapped into the mic and screen of the testers’ computer, presenting a live screen video with vocal accompaniment of real-time feedback.

The BLS was able to view this raw, high quality data within two hours. TryMyUI coins the real-time experience of people who are interacting with the surveys as “meta-feedback”, as it can be used to measure the efficacy of feedback systems (in this case, surveys) as well. By seeing what users were gravitating towards or having trouble with, this federal agency was able to optimize written materials for its intended users.

Want to know more about the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ experience with crowdsourcing and usability testing? Check out this link!