Innovating with COSTAR: Converting Ideas Into Business Plans

image curtesy of mike linksvayer via flickr

image courtesy of mike linksvayer via flickr

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 courtesy 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, 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 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 courtesy 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 courtesy 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!

The Key to Groundbreaking Drug Innovation? Utilize Old Drugs

image courtesy of Laura Gilmore via flickr

The process of drug research, development, approval, and distribution is slow moving. To a healthy individual this of course makes logical sense because staying healthy requires it. For individuals suffering from yet incurable illness, disease, virus, or disorder, and those who know and love them, this process is a race against health and hope.

According to TED Blog, effective drugs only exist for 6% of the 4,000 diseases with known molecular causes. To make more of researched data, in 2012, the US National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences created two crowdsourcing tools directly connecting researchers and drug manufacturers. Contributing pharmaceutical companies release their data on drug compounds that they researched but, in the end, did not utilized (source).

Researchers benefit from access to expensive and time consuming research already conducted. “Some perspective: While it can take up to 15 years and $1 billion to bring a new drug to market, according to some estimates, more than 90% of drugs fail to make it past the early development and toxicity testing stages of the drug pipeline” (source). Pharmaceutical companies benefit by staying at the cutting edge of health innovation, while creating connections with new researchers, but without investing funds, only unused resources.

The drugs being repositioned have already passed initial testing stages, meaning they are safe, but were found to be ineffective for their intended purpose, or were moved out of the research and production schedule. The successful 2012 endeavor culminated in the NIH awarding $12.7 of funding to academic research groups which found compounds and potential new treatments. They are currently gearing up for a second round of open innovation drug repositioning (source).

Finding new uses for compounds researched yet de-prioritized by larger pharmaceutical companies is innovative. But the largest value created by this NIH program is in connecting the larger community of drug researchers, developers, and producers. Download this white paper to see more ways that the larger crowd, including patients and providers, is being leveraged to further health care innovation. The sharing of data will only help to short cut the process of getting these innovations into the hands of those who need them most.

Break out of the Boardroom

image curtesy of Paško Tomić via flickr

image courtesy of Paško Tomić via flickr

The scene: a conference table long enough to rival a wealthy King’s feasting table during the Renaissance, ergonomic swivel chairs to support the most significant backbones of the company, a flat screen TV ready to project the most impressive graphs, and the speakerphone connecting to c-level attendees in other offices. This is where the magic happens. Here is where the most disruptive ideas are formed… Or so we’ve grown to believe. But is it true?

A study by Idea Champions showed that only 3% of the people surveyed came up with their best ideas at work, while the other 97% found their best ideas came while focused on other things – like taking a shower, washing dishes, or going for a run (source). With the best ideas growing so far from the boardroom, perhaps it’s time to develop a new model for cultivating innovation.

Google growth products like gmail, came out of what they called “20% time.” One day a week, employees were encouraged to focus on their google-related passions over their regularly scheduled work (source). Showing all employees that a major part of their job is to step outside of what has already been conceived of, and think about the future of the company increases opportunity for innovation in numbers, and in attitude. Innovation must be promoted amongst employees.

Getting from an isolated idea to an implementable plan means time for suggestion and rebuttal, for reformation and consideration. The good comes with the bad, never alone. A team of innovators needs to know that time devoted to innovations that are fond to be un-implementable and ideas that get thrown out are still a valuable use of their time.

Ancient Greek citizens debating philosophy on city steps and early American settlers discussing the establishment of town laws all understood that time to debate and develop is crucial to success. Innovation comes about in cycles. A work environment where innovation from employees of all positions is encouraged, and common needs to be well maintained. We’ve already discussed encouraging innovation from employees in all positions and the time required for a culture of innovation to bare fruit. Implementation is also important – employees won’t commit to innovation if they do not see the ideation of their peers being put into action.

Register for an upcoming webinar featuring Joe Brummer, Community Mediation, Inc., on the language behind a sustainable culture of innovation. Register for, Creating a Culture of Innovation: Communication Strategies for Innovators here.