Join the IdeaScale Best Practices Conversation

4171232930_ab9c6ec1f9_oIdeaScale prides itself on being a flexible and unique tool that helps numerous companies meet their innovation goals (however disparate the programs might be). However, because our technology is flexible and applicable in multiple formats, it is hard to issue a definitive set of best practices to our clients as the success of each community is highly dependent on community goals, processes, etc.

However, IdeaScale was able to compile a set of commonly-asked questions that are posed within the innovation industry and are offering a webinar at the end of January that aims to answer some of these questions. And to offer our listeners the full range of expertise, we’re inviting Chip Gliedman of Forrester Research to answer such questions at a high-level and the innovation team from Yale University to speak about how they answer such questions in practice within their own IdeaScale community.

Some of the questions that our guests will answer, include

- Is innovation best when wide open and boundless or is it more effective when it is targeted?
- Who are the key players in an innovation program?
- What is the lifecycle of an idea?
- What is a good rate of implementation?
- And many more

However, we want to offer you the opportunity to think of a few more questions to ask. Please submit all new questions before the end of the year so that we can see if it’s possible to answer them within the scope of the webinar.

And if you haven’t already, register today.

Tactical Innovation: Playing to Win

3393943653_5908499e59_oThe following is a guest post by Estel Maskagna. Estel is a freelance and creative writer whose work has been featured on PreScouter. She writes on subjects covering innovation, green tech, and environmental topics. She is passionate about self-learning and intellectual exploration.


In 1959, chess grandmasters Mikhail Tal and Vasily Smyslov locked mental horns in a now-famous chess battle played in Yugoslavia. Tal, a tactical player, initiated a very strong line of attack against his world champion opponent. While Smyslov defended well, the battle ended when Tal made an audacious sacrifice and delivered a crushing tactical blow to his opponent. Tal’s winning tactical move was awarded a Brilliancy Prize game and made him famous as a chess master.

The difference between the two grandmasters was Smyslov played to finish while Tal played to win. Both were in the game, but one had a definite plan of action to reach his goal of winning. A similar tactical approach can prove to be a game changer in a critical innovation project. Unless one has a tactical approach, a great deal of time, energy, and resources will be lost for nothing.

Just like chess grandmasters, build lines of attack to achieve your goal. This may mean exploring new ideas for advancement or dealing with specific issues that hinder progress. Learn how to play to win in innovation with these tactical steps.

-See and plan ahead. Tactical players foresee difficulties as well as opportunities even as they are engaged in the present. They identify possible scenarios that will bring benefit and then maneuver the game towards their desired play. Innovators must also plan and see ahead to gain ground and progress.
-Do not waste advantages. Just like in any game or battle, innovators need to utilize advantages to the maximum. Otherwise it would be lost or worse, gained by the competition, translating to a greater loss to your side.
-Create opportunities. While tactical players and innovators stand alert for any advantages that might come their way, they do not merely wait passively. Tactical innovators also create opportunity with carefully executed moves and course of action.
-Make every move count. Observe how grandmasters play in a high risk, competitive game. They rarely waste a chance to advance their game with every move they make. Indeed, their attack begins right from the first pawn advancement. Even if a move seems senseless to their audience, grandmasters make sure that it will serve a purpose. It might be to distract attention from a developing line of attack or to rescue a valuable piece from possible peril. Or it might simply serve to discombobulate a focused opponent. Whatever the purpose, each move counts and contributes to the attainment of the player’s goal. Innovators also need to make every resource, hour, and effort expended to count towards their ultimate goal.
-Build on your success. Just as chess masters do not win a game in a single brilliant move, it is also important for innovators to build on their small successes. Each advantage gained should lead to another and strengthen one’s game overall. Building on one’s success and progress fits into the general tactical approach that leads to achieving one’s goal.
-Don’t lose momentum. Holly Green in Prescouter Journal says, “Today’s markets reward boldness, so dare to take risks. Look for opportunities that offer huge upsides with minimal downside, and outline ways to mitigate or minimize the risks.” This doesn’t mean that you have to lose momentum if you make a mistake, however. “Get comfortable with a certain amount of failure, because when you take risks you will fail some of the time. When you do fail, fail fast and learn from your mistakes.” Don’t let one or a couple of mistakes set you back for the whole game. Learn from it, recalibrate, and plunge ahead for the win.

Prime your innovation game with a tactical approach and play to win!

Managing for Success: Best Practices in Open Innovation – In Conversation with guests Forrester and Yale

newsflashJoin IdeaScale for a comprehensive exploration on how to best organize an open innovation community on Friday, January 24th, 2014 at 12:00 p.m. EST.

Hosted by IdeaScale and featuring Chip Gliedman of Forrester Research and Yale University’s IT Innovation Alignment Team, this conversation explores innovation best practices in a broad view, but also in practice within an IdeaScale community.  In the discussion, the speakers will address questions like:

-Is innovation best when wide open and boundless or should such programs be more targeted?
-Who are the key players in an innovation program?
-What defines successful engagement within a community?
-What are some tactics for improving ideation engagement?
-And much, much more.

An Introduction to the Speakers:

Chip Gliedman is a vice president, principal analyst at Forrester Research and serves CIOs. His research focuses on IT investment strategies, justifying technology investments, IT portfolio management, business technology (BT) alignment, and IT satisfaction. Chip developed the Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) model and program to help clients quantify and communicate the financial value of technology investments and strategies.

Yale ITs The Innovation Alignment Team is composed of Lou Rinaldi, Bryan Kazdan, and Karen Polhemus. They are collectively charged with providing leadership, technical expertise, ambassadorship, and metrics reporting in the field of Yale IT innovation. This team is focused on leading innovative programs.

Register Today!

Learning From Successful Kickstarter Campaigns

Keyboard with Crowd Funding Button.Kickstarter reports that to date, $903 million has been pledged in support of more than 52 thousand Kickstarter projects. While that’s exciting news, the flip side is that more than 67 thousand projects were unsuccessful. What makes the difference between success and failure can be seen from this sampling of crowdfunding projects.

Make Life Easier for People

Technology is a popular topic in crowdfunding campaigns. From cases for the iPhone to apps for the windows phone, people love technology. Some of the most successful campaigns have been those that make technology a little easier to use.

The Kickstarter campaign for Pressy was in support of a small device that plugs into the speaker jack of an Android phone, with a button that you could program to do different functions. The purpose was to eliminate the multiple steps it might normally take to do something on your phone. You could program Pressy to call your work with one press of the button, or press it twice and bring up the camera app. You could even program it to open a Twitter panel when pressed 3 times.

The original funding goal for Pressy was $40,000. The project received pledges of more than $690,000 and they had more than 28 thousand backers. Several things worked to make this a successful crowdfunding campaign:

They had a killer video - A cheap bear costume and a highly energized team made for an entertaining video introducing Pressy. Videos are to get backers excited about the product and create the sense that they need to be a part of this project. Not only do people want the product, but they want the product to be successful. The video is what starts it all, however, as it sparks the initial excitement.

They kept in touch with backers - A Huffington Post article notes that you need to connect with your backers and stay connected. The Pressy team did that by making frequent update notes on their campaign page as well as on their own website. They posted updates regarding the progress of the project, which let backers in on their production timeline.

Get the Word Out

Crowdfunding is integrated with the online social experience. To be successful in Kickstarter, you must be successful with social networking. David Wolfe headed the campaign for Oliver’s Athletic Clothing, a startup in California, according to it’s Kickstarter. Their initial target was $10 thousand. They raised more than $270 thousand from 3,307 backers.

Wolfe was interviewed by CrowdCrux, and stated that one of the key reasons for success was getting connected with their social network. The company created a photo marketing campaign and sent it out to all of their social media sites. They began doing this before the Kickstarter campaign launched. This creates anticipation in the social networking circles. A strong social network gives crowdfunding projects their initial boost to success.

Tell a Story

When a crowdfunding project sponsor tells a good story about why they are passionate about their product or project, people get interested, and want to become involved. Jake Bronstein is passionate about the reliability of consumer products, and about his 10-Year Hoodie. His project write up on Kickstarter conveys his desire to buck the established belief that clothing quickly wears out. His hooded sweatshirt is made to last and he guarantees that.

The project goal was $50 thousand. He made more than $1 million with 9,226 backers. Reading the backer comments, you can tell that people clicked with Jake’s message. When the campaign story is compelling to people, they want to get involved. Some may pledge to get the product. Others may pledge just a few dollars because they want to see the project become successful. That’s the nature of crowdfunding.

Innovation Leaders: Results of the 2013 Open Innovation Awards

Last week, IdeaScale had the honor of reviewing a truly spectacular array of innovators and their accomplishments in IdeaScale’s first ever Open Innovation Awards. And although we had many interesting and compelling entrants, there were a few leaders of the pack that have helped to redefine what a successful innovation program looks like. We are pleased to announce the winners in each category.OpenInnovationAward-winner-v2

In the category of Best Engagement Strategy, the winner is:
The State of Minnesota for its Minnovations program

In the category of Best Moderation Strategy, the winner is:
Yale University

In the category of Wildest Innovation, the winner is:
Cerebral Palsy Alliance for its World Cerebral Palsy Day Innovation Program

In the category of Savings Expert, the winner is:
Marriott Vacations Worldwide

In the category of Efficiency Expert, the winner is:
The University of NC Wilmington for its What’s Our IQ? Program

The winners will be receiving a discount on their 2014 IdeaScale license, a shareable press packet detailing their win, and the opportunity to fast track a 2014 IdeaScale feature.

Additionally, the winner of the 2014 Hawaiian vacation is Yale University.

Stay tuned for more details from the winners about how they succeeded, best practices to share, and lessons learned from our innovative innovators.

Strategic Crowdsourcing for a Successful Startup


This is a guest post by Marcus Newman. Marcus recently graduated with his MBA and is an entrepreneur in the making who blogs about business trends.

CIOs agreed in a recent meeting that the use of outsourcing for certain company roles is still valuable, says Business Value Exchange. Especially those roles where innovation creates an advantage and the company can’t produce that with internal resources. Crowdsourcing for those certain roles frees up resources so you can focus on other facets of your company such as growth and profitability.

Human Resources

The moment you hire someone to work for you, either full-time, part-time or contract, you’ll need human resource help and advice. According to The Guardian, HR is one of the most outsourced activities for small businesses and it is possible to crowdsource numerous HR activities even though the position requires specialized knowledge of state and federal labor laws, employment contracts, disciplinary regulations and procedures, review procedures and dispute mitigation.

Accounting and Bookkeeping

This is often an aspect of the small business startup that owners pay little attention to, says Huffington Post. Scribbled notes and receipts thrown into a box to be sorted later keep you from knowing exactly how your business is doing. However, it is possible to get accounting support from a group of knowledgeable member who have specialized in industry tools such as Quickbooks by Intuit.comAs an industry standard for small business accounting, you’ll easily find someone with Quickbooks experience to manage your company finances.

IT Support

While you are starting your business, your technology needs will be shifting. The last thing you want is that technology to hold you back. By tapping into the crowd, you’ll have access to people experienced in all aspects of technology. Developing internal resources or hiring skilled people is expensive in both time and money. If your business adopts cloud computing and bring-your-own-device policies, you may never need an in-house IT team once you’ve started with an outsourced IT support effort.

Public Relations

The digital age has changed public relations. To cover all of your PR needs, crowdsourcing this work at first can get your company visibility faster than developing in-house expertise. Gaining visibility for your company and products is critical in your early stages of growth.

Web Design and Development

Your website is a focal point from which people get information about you, your products and services. There are many people specializing in web design and coding. They know what works for your business type, and what doesn’t. Crowdsourcing this effort can give you a professional site with little impact on your own full-time staff.

Content Management and Creation

Unless all of your internal resources are proficient writers and have the time, outsourcing your website content creation is worth doing. You need high-quality, value-added content on your site to attract customers. In the early days of your business, have someone else do this and transition it back to your staff when the website has a good foundation of content that keeps customers interested. If you develop a good working relationship with a content service early on, you may even keep them as the primary creators of your online content indefinitely.

The Basics Of Crowdfunding: How Crowdfunding Works

This article is a guest post by Bradley Taylor. Bradley Taylor is a freelance writer from Derby, England, UK who writes about all aspects of the automotive industry (among other subjects). You can connect with Bradley on Twitter and Google+. 

Crowdfunding is the collective pooling, donation, or financial support of a person, group or project that occurs mostly on the Internet. Its use has ramped up dramatically from when it first began and is now very common for a wide range of activities and purposes. Crowdfunding is used to raise money for disaster relief, support political campaigns, finance artistic and creative endeavors, local civics projects, start up companies, scientific research and more. Crowdfunding is also taken to mean when a company is funded by selling off smaller, divided shares to finance it and get it going. Crowdfunding draws its concept from the practice of crowdsourcing, or the occasion of someone reaching a certain goal as the result of small donations and support from a vast amount of people.pic2Image source

How Crowdfunding Works
Crowdfunding works by using a crowdfunding platform, usually a website hosted online, that allows people to click on profiles for projects, proposals, individuals and groups and to donate to these causes. In 2012 there were over 400 crowdfunding platforms that were used to donate to creative work such as journalism and blogs, for causes such as music as well.

Star of the HBO television shows “Mad Men” and “Parenthood” Zosia Mamet made headlines in 2012 by attempting to use crowdfunding through the site Kickstarter to raise $32,000 to do a music video with her sister Clara as part of the musical duo “The Cabin Sisters” but raised only $2,783 of a $32,000 set goal. Because the Mamet sisters could easily afford to pay for the effort themselves and the crowdfunding model is designed for those relying on the kindness of strangers, they were heavily criticised for the effort.  In particular some of the gifts offered in exchange for funding such as $2,000 for a 45 minute Skype call brought the Mamets additional criticism.

What Crowdfunding Can Be Used For

In addition to crowdfunding being tested as a possible driving force for art and individual quests in general, it has become a possible defining factor in the days to come when it comes to the industry of independent film production, music, and start up companies. Community music labels can be used on crowdfunding platforms by fans and individuals as a way to promote and get a music artist they like in the recording process. Crowdfunding is projected to be particularly substantial in funding films that have relatively skimpy budgets that fall under the $10 million range. Campaigns that are directed towards financing already successful and beloved projects that are a natural progression and will have an audience are more likely to be successful. Lending in the place of banks has been tried but not really been wildly popular enough to be remotely a threat to contending with the banks.

History Of Crowdfunding

The concept of crowdfunding has been used for a very long time. In the 17th century, Praenumeration was used to fund book printings as a subscription business model. Joseph Pulitzer urged Americans in his newspaper “The New York World” in 1884 to donate money towards building the Statue Of Liberty’s pedestal when it had run out of funds. $100,000 was donated by individuals over the course of six months with over 125,000 donating small amounts of $1 or less to help save the Statue’s Pedestal. British rock group Marillion had its entire U.S. tour funded by $60,000 of crowdfunding donations in 1994 and went on to use the practice to finance four later albums. Zach Braff raised $3.1 million this year through massive support and donations from fans using the crowdfunding site to fund his film “Wish I Was Here”.

How Crowdfunding Is Changing The Face Of Achievement 


Image source

Crowdfunding is a revolutionary vehicle. It connects people to ideas and allows them to explore and pursue different ideas and goals that people are trying to achieve. It has connected fans to the artists and allow them to personally support those whose visions, imagination, and goals seem worthy to them. From helping in community projects to donating to efforts that help people recover from natural disasters and support efforts to increase quality of life, crowdfunding allows people to support what they deem to be worthy. Just one of the many ways that crowdfunding is people supporting people through the combined effort of many individuals reaching out through the world wide web and making a difference.

IdeaScale and the Department of Energy Launch The American Energy Data Challenge

Berkeley, Calif., Nov 21, 2013 – The Department of Energy in collaboration with the Presidential Innovation Fellows have launched the American Energy Data Challenge on the IdeaScale platform. The contest issues an invitation to the American public to source new and impactful uses of energy data in order to re-imagine America’s energy infrastructure.newsflash

This challenge which focuses on energy ideas, however, is only one in a series of public contests that will award contributors with prizes totaling $10,000. The program has many goals, among them introducing the public to the valuable data and resources offered by the Energy Department, creating new ways to visualize and discover energy data, and spurring the development of new tools and services that leverage these high-value data sets in ways that benefit the American people, and more.

The American Energy Data Challenge is one of several challenge-based communities that IdeaScale has launched in recent months. This first challenge sprint will run from November 6th announced in the coming months.

“IdeaScale is in the business of empowering real change, “says Rob Hoehn, CEO and Founder of IdeaScale, “and sometimes that means effecting business bottom lines, sometimes that means giving voices to minorities, and in this case that means changing how we think about and use energy in a critical time.”

About IdeaScale:
IdeaScale is the largest cloud-based innovation software platform in the world with more that 25,000 customers and 4 million users. The software allows organizations to involve the opinions of public and private communities by collecting their ideas and giving users a platform to vote. The ideas are then evaluated, routed, and delivered on the back-end, making IdeaScale the engine of innovation. IdeaScale’s current client roster includes industry leaders, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and the Executive Office of the President. For more information about IdeaScale, visit

Exploration vs. Exploitation Mindset in Breakthrough Innovation

estelThe following is a guest post by Estel Maskagna. Estel is a freelance and creative writer whose work has been featured on PreScouter. She writes on subjects covering innovation, green tech, and environmental topics. She is passionate about self-learning and intellectual exploration.

When a company stumbles upon a breakthrough innovation with great potential, should it explore the possibilities or exploit it for maximum profit?

This article aims to elaborate the explorative vs. exploitative mindset explored in Matte’s article “What Makes Breakthrough Ideas Successful?”

Challenges of Breakthrough Innovations
Breakthrough innovations will not progress beyond initial stages in an exploitative development process because of its characteristics.

Some of the challenges outlined by Mattes regarding breakthrough innovations are:

-Need for recognition of new opportunities
-High uncertainty
-Development of new business models
-Acquiring new resources

An exploitative mindset will have difficulty getting around a breakthrough innovation because it challenges established traditions and expectations. On the contrary, an exploration mindset does not rely on typical KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and is therefore more open to possibilities that a breakthrough innovation presents.

Aspects Exploration Mindset Exploitation Mindset
Uncertainty/Risk Profile High Low  to Moderate
Target Markets New markets Existing markets
Marketing Goals Transform current industries or discover new ones Refine and improve competitiveness within current markets
Innovation Goals Introduce new technologies, products, or services Optimize existing products, services, or business models 

Uncertainty vs. Reliability
Because breakthrough innovations are characterized by high uncertainty, management needs to be open and flexible rather than dictated by rigid rules. Tasks should be broadly defined and should not require highly specialized skills. Remember, the goal is to come up with something new – even something that will require a new set of specialization skills. The telephone created a new industry and necessitated the training of a whole new workforce with it. So did airplanes and the invention of the original iPhone. A management style bent on reaching certain goals through time-proven processes will be bewildered with breakthrough innovations and its challenges.

High Risk vs. Safe Bets
Breakthrough innovations are high risk ventures because it necessitates the recognition of new windows of opportunities. It challenges time-tested, traditional product bases with no past performances to rely on. The exploration mindset makes room for new business models. Breakthrough innovations should be nurtured in a management style that is open to risk-taking and experimentation.

Teamwork vs. Individual Effort
In contrast to a highly controlled environment, an exploration management style relies on intensive collaboration in order to come up with the best possible innovation.

Moreover, an explorative mindset ensures rewards and recognitions go to teams, not individuals. Whereas an exploitative mindset elevates the person with the yellow jersey, the exploration mindset gives the medal to the whole team. This is in line with the explorative management style’s dependence on collaboration and teamwork.

Hierarchical vs. Decentralized Management
Input and rigid instructions from superiors therefore are not what drive the development of a breakthrough innovation. The highly hierarchical chain of command is replaced by a decentralized management in an explorative mindset.Communication among the individuals and groups involved shifts from vertical to horizontal.

More Efficiency Does Not Exist
In a nutshell, an exploitation mindset relies on efficiency to meet its goal – to make as much profit from existing technologies and markets. However, efficiency is not the key to innovative progress. As Jorge Barba puts it, more efficiency doesn’t exist. New markets and industries are not discovered because a product or service was perfected in efficiency in doing what it does. On the other hand, new markets are discovered by breaking out of the ordinary and traditional. A breakthrough innovation is valuable precisely because it is unprecedented, and it will take an explorative mindset instead of an exploitative one to help it reach success.

APIs are at the Heart of Open Data

APIAccess_320X208IdeaScale is glad to be hosting a webinar next week about how our API is generating new innovation solutions in different use case scenarios. IdeaScale’s webinar will cover many different integration and data use scenarios, but here are three key areas where APIs are often applied:

Whether developers are accessing our API to display or re-imagine the presentation of data or they’re using it to plug into existing systems, our well-documented API allows developers a great deal of creative access to a rich amount of data.

Not only can IdeaScale be introduced to any iOS or Android environment, our API allows for tailored mobile experiences.

Any community can find a home and a unique look and feel with our adaptive API. Take for example, EA Sports Game Changer’s community.

However, that’s only a very small window into what is possible and the buffet of opportunities that might change how a community is innovating is infinitely larger.

To learn more about the possibilities presented by IdeaScale’s API, tune into our webinar next week. For a specific API use case, check out IdeaScale’s Agora 2.0 webinar video which utilizes IdeaScale’s API to create an onsite public display of their online ideation community.