Category Archives: IdeaScale

IdeaScale’s Top 5 2014 Features

Top 5 2014Another one bites the dust. Another year, that is. As 2014 draws to a close, we are taking time to celebrate the year’s many accomplishments; among them, five particular features float to the top. These features have made things easier, more efficient, more aesthetic, and more accessible for IdeaScale users.

1.  Moderator Tags
This new feature is incredibly useful. With it, Moderators can define specific criteria or categories to analyze communities based on the tagging data. Separate from publicly visible tags, these tags are only available to community Moderators and Administrators, although you can extend the visibility to a particular community role as well. This allows for sometimes much-needed categorization and analysis that are not necessarily for public use.

2.  ReviewScale
What if the ideas emerging from your campaign or community are not in line with your goals as an organization? This year saw the introduction of a solution to this problem. Administrators can target ideas that best align with the values and aims of an organization with the new decision matrix software from IdeaScale. Groups who have already started using ReviewScale include the Department of Labor, Yale University, and Kaiser Permanente. Find out more and request a demo here.

3.  Community Refresh
Functionality and compatibility are important, but so are aesthetics. Communities within IdeaScale got a facelift this year when the entire design was revamped. New communities have a sleeker interface, presenting a welcoming look immediately upon viewing.

4.  Community Infographic Generator
Infographics are one of the most efficient, impactful ways to convey information. With this new feature, infographics are generated for you by IdeaScale software using information from and statistics about your campaign. These graphics include information about the engagement of your community with the campaign, sharing statistics like number of ideas shared, amount of votes tabulated, and the time of day when folks were most active. Learn how to take advantage of this great feature with this article from IdeaScale support.

5.  CO-STAR
So I’ve got my ideas; now what? CO-STAR can help you. CO-STAR is an acronym that stands for “Customer Opportunity Solution Team Advantage Result.” Boiled down, this feature helps facilitate the stepping beyond the initial idea phase and developing those ideas into valid business models. CO-STAR focuses on developing answers to questions along those six key criteria included in its name. Companies such as the BBC and Johnson&Johnson have already started using the system.

What do you think about these features from 2014? Which features made the most difference for your organization? Which features would you like to see in 2015?

2014 Innovation Award Winners

OIAwards2014The 2014 Open Innovation Awards winners have officially been chosen! This year we had many wonderful entrants, and we are incredibly pleased to announce the winners in each category.

Department of Labor—Best Engagement Strategy
The Department of Labor is the winner of the Best Engagement Strategy for their ePolicyWorks campaign. The campaign aimed to gather insight about the accessibility of social media platforms and employment opportunities for people with disabilities in STEM fields. Click here to find out more about the Department of Labor and the winning campaign.

Department of Energy—Best Moderation Strategy
The Department of Energy is the winner of the Best Moderation Strategy for their Sunshot Initiative. The Initiative is a national collaborative effort to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade. Click here to find out more about the Department of Energy and the winning campaign.

Scentsy—Best Innovation
Scentsy Inc., an Idaho-based candle warmer company, is the winner of the Best Innovation award for their Family IdeaShare campaign. This campaign resulted in, among other things, a suggestion that became the top-selling warmer in Scentsy history. Click here to find out more about Scentsy and their award-winning innovation.

Congratulations to our winners!

Two particular strategies stand out as best practices from which we can all take a lesson: social media engagement and ease of participation. All three of our winners took full advantage of the social media outlets available to them to encourage user contributions. This was especially true with the Department of Labor, whose campaign focused on social media availability for people with disabilities. Additionally, all three made a point of making participation as uncomplicated as possible; involvement is understandably more likely when it is manageable. For example, the Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative included step-by-step screenshots of the process for users.

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

What might your organization do to be more engaging, have better moderation, and strive for the best innovation?

Community Feature—Fairfax County Park Authority

FCPAJust southwest of Washington, D.C., across the Potomac River, is the County of Fairfax in Virginia. Home to the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, not to mention Mount Vernon, estate of one George Washington, Fairfax County is also home to a thriving parks department known officially as the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA).

The FCPA recently concluded a two-month long call to arms for Fairfax County residents to voice their opinions on their parks, as part of a long-standing commitment to evaluate the needs and interests of community members. In summer of 2014, the FCPA started their IdeaScale community out with several park authority generated prompts as conversation points about improvements, prompts like how trials are used and “I would use parks more if…” From those initial starting points, citizens added their own topics.

This seems to have been perhaps the best choice that the FCPA has made: allowing residents to collaborate on ideas that are proposed by other residents, with little or no interjection from the parks authority. For example, when somebody suggested that the county was in need of some baseball complexes to help ease the load on school baseball fields, other members jumped in with suggestions of where potential baseball complexes might fit.

Ultimately the FCPA will have to assess whether those suggestions are realistic or doable with their resources, but it surely shows the strength of crowdsourcing within a community, as all members are entirely invested in the result. It allows those ideas that are the most impactful to the most people to rise to the top based solely on the concerns of those within the community. It also illustrates the FCPA’s commitment to serving their population’s needs, that they would observe the process and not interject with naysaying and impossibilities.

Now that the information gathering stage of the evaluation is complete, the FCPA is honoring and considering the contributions of the populous by developing a survey which will be sent to 15,000 residences in early 2015. From there, the results will be tabulated and action items will be shared, with development of ideas beginning in late 2015. In the meantime, the parks authority is keeping everyone apprised with updates of the process via their website. We look forward to seeing what improvements are most essential to the Fairfax County Park Authority. What kind of changes would you like to see in your community?

3 Goals of Sustainable Innovation

Goals of Sustainable InnovationWe’re all familiar with a contest model of crowdsourcing. A contest model often presents a targeted, prompted invitation to participate in a crowdsourcing moment, usually with a deadline. But what happens after the deadline is over? Many organizations are moving beyond that traditional contest model and aiming for sustainable innovation. Here are three goals of sustainable innovation for which to strive:

Continuous engagement. If exciting changes are happening all of the time, rather than within the deadlines of a contest, there’s much more reason to be invested. Sustainable innovation incentivizes stakeholders both inside and outside the organization to stay engaged.

Collaboration. Like a snowball rolling downhill, when innovation has no boundaries, it can grow exponentially. And like that snowball, it is made greater by as many contributions as possible. When accomplished judiciously, sustainable innovation allows for everyone at all levels of involvement with an organization to feel heard and necessary in the process.

Enacting the most impactful innovations. When there are no restrictions on innovation, there is time to fully develop and realize the best ideas, and enact those that are able to have the biggest impact.

To learn more about techniques and best practices for sustainable innovation, as well as about the Department of Energy’s Sunshot Catalyst Program, join us on December 9 for our webinar, Sustainable Innovation: Moving Beyond Slingshot Challenges.  Click here for more information, and to register for this complimentary webinar.

Four Thanksgiving Firsts That Spurred Innovation

Thanksgiving GreetingsIt’s that time of year again, when turkeys and pumpkin pies fill our dreams, and parades with building-sized balloons fill our streets. In that spirit, here are four innovative Thanksgiving firsts:

1. Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued the first Thanksgiving Proclamation, creating a national day of thanks. This proclamation was the precedent to the first official national holiday law in 1870. Thanks Abe!

2. Gimbel’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Of Thanksgiving Day parades, the oldest in the nation may not be the one you’d expect. In 1920, Ellis Gimbel of Gimbel’s in Philadelphia was looking for a way to make his Toyland the stand-out destination for shoppers, and the Gimbel’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was born. This novelty paved the way for the creation of the much-loved Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, which today includes over 8,000 volunteers and brings an estimated 3.5 million folks out into the streets to watch.

3. Black Friday Commercialized. Today we’re familiar with the term “Black Friday” in reference to the crazed flurry of shopping. However, the first use of the term in connection with Thanksgiving actually originated with some weary cops who had to deal with the increase of traffic on the road on that day. Trailblazing retailers spun it back to shopping using a rumor indicating that the term actually referred to the shopping day putting those retailers back in the black financially.

4. National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation. This year marks the 67th anniversary of the presentation, in which the President of the United States chooses between two turkeys and issues one an official presidential pardon. In 2012, however, President Obama utilized a new method of determining which turkey to pardon: he crowdsourced the selection! Through a vote implemented on the White House’s Facebook page, American citizens cast their ballots and turkey Cobbler triumphed.

What innovation from history are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Tomorrow is the Final Day to Submit to the Open Innovation Awards!

image curtesy of nicolas will via flickr

image courtesy of nicolas will via flickr

If you’re part of an IdeaScale community you’ve probably already heard about our second annual Open Innovation Awards. Over the past few months we’ve been asking all of you to share your success stories. We’ll be selecting a Best Moderation Strategy, Best Engagement Strategy, and a Best Innovation – all of which come with prizes… and some serious bragging rights. But the submission deadline is tomorrow Friday the 14th, and we want to hear your unique, inspiring, exceptional innovation story.

At IdeaScale we love this time of year. Hearing about the struggles and accomplishments in your innovation communities is always educational and helpful, but it’s also fun. It won’t be easy to decide who will win the titles, and the prizes that go with them, this year!

For all of you who have already submitted, or are routing for a community you know and love, finalists will be notified on December 5th, and the winners will be announced on December 19th! Can’t wait another five weeks to get your fix of innovation? You can read up on all of last year’s winners!

•   Yale

•   Marriott

•   UNCW

•   State of Minnesota

•   The Cerebral Palsy Alliance


So what are you waiting for? Submit today!

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 courtesy 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.