Tag Archives: engagement

How to Conquer Distance with Collaboration

WAPOLLong distance relationships are never easy. This is especially true of large-scale organizations which are housed in multiple and varied locations. Sometimes differing locations will have differing needs but more often they have similar struggles. Like the Western Australia Police.

The Western Australia Police recently began using IdeaScale as a method of conquering that distance; namely a distance that covers over 2.5 million square kilometers, including 11 districts and 197 police stations in both urban and rural areas. As a result of their Frontline 2020 initiative, the WAP feels more connected and collaborative than ever. The kilometers between are hardly noticeable with the centralized digital meeting spot to recommend better ways of working, solutions to problems, and collaborate with fellows—regardless of physical location. It also allows workers the opportunity to note the similarities amongst themselves, to realize that they are not as isolated as they might physically feel sometimes.

As Deputy Commissioner Steven Brown relayed, one of the best outcomes of Frontline 2020 has been the ability for all members of their workforce to have one central location to identify “the things that make it hard for them to get their jobs done,” things which the Deputy Commissioner says are often easy to fix once they are known. In essence, the program allows for everyone in the community to feel heard and respected in the process. Moreover, the WAP emphasizes their appreciation for the participation of their workforce by responding to every suggestion, and incentivizing with the possibility for small prizes.

In addition to a more engaged, collaborative workforce, the ideas coming from Frontline 2020 have already had a positive impact on the administrative and logistical side as well, saving thousands of hours of work time.

To find out more about the Western Australia Police and Frontline 2020, click here to download the recent case study.

Starting with a Great Strategy

great strategyMore and more these days, great organizations are employing innovation programs. These organizations have come to realize that, in order to stay relevant, it’s imperative to continue evaluating and growing.

While deciding to incorporate an innovation program may be an easy decision, deciding the structure and strategy surrounding that program can be more difficult. How do you encourage and foster good ideas? What do you do with new ideas once they’ve surfaced? What is the best way to evaluate ideas? The questions abound.

RocketSpace, a technology campus in San Francisco, makes a point of observing and understanding the things that make startups effective, and then incorporating those things into other organizations or connecting those organizations to startup partners. They have found that starting with a great innovation strategy can make all the difference. Knowing how you are going to deal with ideas, and how to foster them into real, practical applications is essential to the success of an innovation program.

Don’t miss our webinar with RocketSpace, From Ideation to Incubation, on Wednesday, June 3. Click here to register and find out more information. Among other topics, the webinar will include a live Q&A where you can get advice from and connect with innovators from RocketSpace and IdeaScale.

How Mageneti Marelli Used Open Innovation to Find the Competitive Edge

magneti marelliWhat can happen when you invite open, global innovation into your organization? International company Magneti Marelli found out when they partnered with Open Knowledge to create their Laptime Club.

Magneti Marelli was founded in Italy in 1919. It is committed to the design and production of hi-tech systems and components for the automotive industry.  As an organization, the group’s presence stretches across 19 countries, and is a supplier for the most important car makers in Europe, North and South America, and Asia.

Structured to be a community for motorsport engineers and experts, but also for technology and electronics enthusiasts, the Laptime Club was designed specifically to stimulate creativity and innovation in racing. It was open to the entire global community, and 85% of the ideas that Magneti Marelli ended up receiving were from sources external to their company.

As a result of the group’s large-scale invitation, they received nearly 100 ideas across 6 months of innovation. From these, twenty ideas rose to the surface as idea finalists, and then were further winnowed to two winning ideas to be considered for development.

Two of the most powerful strategies that Magneti Marelli used during the innovation period were their social media outreach and their regular innovation team meetings. The group used the entire digital toolkit in order to promote the innovation community, including blogging, email announcements, and campaigns on social media platforms like Facebook and Google. This allowed them to do the absolute most digital promotion possible. Magneti Marelli also utilized regular innovation team meetings, gathering once a month to look at and respond to new ideas, including reaching out to idea authors for more details about their ideas. Imagine how encouraging it would be as an idea author to not have to wait until the end of the six-month to hear anything about your idea. It likely made idea authors more apt to want to contribute in the future, even if their first ideas were not implemented.

Read more about Magneti Marelli and the Laptime Club in this recent case study.

Cat Café Crowdfunding: What You Can Learn about Funding Your Passion Project from the Meow Parlour

tabbyYou may or may not have heard about the Meow Parlour, the first of what is sure to be a truckload of kitty cafés around the country. The Meow Parlour was introduced for many people through Kickstarter and allows patrons to rent access to their space and spend time with roaming, adoptable kitties. However, in an article on Entrepreneur.com, Meow Parlour co-founders Christina Ha and Emilie Legrand expressed that their main purpose in putting their project on Kickstarter was NOT to raise funds (although that didn’t hurt).

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the Meow Parlour crowdfunding is this: If YOU would like to see something around that doesn’t currently exist—especially if it involves cuddly balls of fluff—you can almost certainly find other people who will help make that dream a reality.

Beyond that, Ha and Legrand pointed out two other particular benefits of going to Kickstarter to fund the Meow Parlour. First, the donors constituted a great guinea pig pool with which to test out their concept and business model before officially opening their doors. They offered their first donors a chance to experience the café, and were able to observe how the cats behaved as well as gauge an average stay for customers.

Second, a Kickstarter campaign is oftentimes a superb marketing strategy. It’s an easily shareable piece of information about a forthcoming project, it gets people excited. It provides an opportunity for outreach that is very difficult to duplicate away from an online setting.

What will be your cat café? More importantly, what is stopping you from making it happen?

Employee Engagement—Better for Employees

Employee Engagement 2Two weeks ago, as part of our focus on employee engagement and a recent white paper from IdeaScale on the City of Atlanta’s experience with the subject, we evaluated reasons why employee engagement is beneficial for employers. This week, we will be taking a closer look at why employee engagement is beneficial for employees.

While this one may seem like a bit of a no-brainer—“employee” is part of the term itself, so it would be fair to assume employees would benefit—there are some less obvious positive results for employees as well. As we mentioned in our previous post, employee unhappiness is a huge problem these days. In addition to the feelings of lack of fulfillment, employees then have to struggle with the choice of continuing in an unhappy environment or moving on and starting over in a new situation.

However, when employees are made to feel engaged, they are more likely to feel fulfilled and invested in the organizations for which they are working. This in turn leads to higher work enjoyment and increases the likelihood of longevity.

Acumen Solutions, an IT consulting company in Virginia, has been working on increasing employee engagement and investing in their employees for a while. Acumen Solutions strives to make the workplace more than just a workplace, focusing on all aspects of employee’s lives. This includes presenting personalized gifts for both professional and personal milestones in employee’s lives, as well as encouraging wellness with challenges against other office locations. Employee engagement begins at the very first day of employment, when new employees are paired with a buddy.

All of these steps help to illustrate to employees that they are valued and that the work they are doing is important and impactful to the organization. This line of engagement and communication also helps to create openness in organizations, contributing to a more social and community-driven environment.

Celebrating work and personal accomplishments and encouraging healthy life-work balance are a great start, but what seems to be missing is an opportunity for employee feedback. Providing an outlet for honest and constructive feedback, suggestions for improvement, and collaboration would further emphasize to employees that their voices and opinions are central to the larger organization.

To learn more about employee engagement and the City of Atlanta’s particular experience with it, click here to download IdeaScale’s recent white paper.

A Closer Look at the 2014 Innovation Award Winners

OIAwards2014A few short weeks ago, while we were all still occupying the year 2014, we announced our 2014 Open Innovation Award winners. We pointed out two best practices that were used by all three of our award winners: social media engagement and ease of participation. Were you curious about how the winning organizations utilized these practices? We will quench that curiosity with a closer look.

Social Media Engagement

Social media engagement was an important strategy for all of our winners. Whether it was an effort to increase the innovation community via social media outreach or whether investigating social media accessibility as a concept, all three found it imperative.

The latter was true for the Department of Labor’s ePolicyWorks initiative, which set up three dialogues to specifically investigate the accessibility of social media platforms for people with disabilities. This was especially useful in the final two of the three dialogues, as ePolicyWorks was seeking insight from participants outside the disability community about the state of social media and STEM employment for people with disabilities.

The Sunshot Catalyst Initiative at the Department of Energy utilized their Twitter account to garner approximately 11% of Sunshot Catalyst’s active members. The team also emphasized how social media outlets are valuable sources for crowdsourced participation in an innovation community.

Likewise, Scentsy—a company which uses consultants to sell products directly to users—wanted to check in about needs and desires of their customers. They used social media in order to promote successfully completed ideas including what would become the top selling warmer in company history, the Mason Jar warmer. This promotion of completed ideas in turn became an encouragement for the community to get involved and submit ideas in the future.

Ease of Participation

Another important aspect of their winning strategies was making participation as easy as possible for their respective communities. The Department of Energy’s Sunshot Catalyst accomplished this by giving users step-by-step screenshots of the process. By providing their community with easy instructions for participation, the Sunshot Catalyst team made participating more accessible.

The Scentsy team made participation easier by providing every opportunity and point of entry as possible for their involved consultants. Not only did they utilize social media channels, as previously mentioned, they also integrated links to their IdeaScale community throughout the Scentsy system, making it especially easier for consultants to get involved.

The Department of Labor’s ePolicyWorks created shareable communications—both for social media platforms and other spaces—in advance of the formal introduction of the dialogue online. Understandably, they realized that participation is easier when those you would like to be involved in the conversation are aware that it will be occurring, and even have an opportunity to consider in advance what their contribution to the conversation might be.

How might your organization make participation easier? How might you utilize social media to further engage your community?

Employee Engagement—Better for Employers

Employee Engagement 1What is the benefit to organizations and employers in making sure their employees are engaged? Sure, it seems clear that there are positive outcomes for employees themselves, but how does that reflect back on the organizations for which they work?

One of the most persistent problems these days is employee discontent. There are scores of articles written about why and how workers are unsatisfied with their positions, attempting to explain why there is often such a high turnover rate of employment. Among the reasons for this is that employees feel undervalued by the organizations for which they work. Using employee engagement, especially by asking for their suggestions and opinions, allows employees to feel a sense of agency in their workplace. When employees have agency, they feel necessary and important to the process, and are understandably more likely to want to stick around.

As a recent IdeaScale white paper expounds, when the rate of turnover is lower, it ultimately saves organizations money in not having to constantly train new employees. In other words, it is in everyone’s best interest that companies keep their staff happy and involved.

For four other key benefits of employee engagement for employers, click here to download the recent white paper about employee engagement and the City of Atlanta.

Stay tuned for our blog post on how employee engagement makes work better for employees on January 20.

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.

It’s All about Engagement

photo curtesy of erika via flickr

photo courtesy of erika via flickr

Crowdsourcing can result in disruptive ideas, in ideas that will improve efficiency, new product ideas, ideas with impressive return on investment. Innovation is a necessary tool for all industries, which allows any organization to reach beyond a small pool of decision makers and harness the insights and ideation of the crowd.

How can you guarantee your crowd will participate in your crowdsourcing campaign? How can you ensure engagement levels to validate the resources put in? Innovation is about shaking things up – about finding a new way to handle an old problem. Do not let that trick you into thinking it is a fully organic process, innovation takes planning.

The first step in producing engagement is defining how you’ll measure for success. In crowdsourcing there are 4 kinds of engagement:

Initial Idea: One way to measure is by how many ideas are submitted. Often number of votes is the best measure of your campaign’s reach.

Idea nurturing: Measuring engagement by how many participants comment on submissions is a more accurate measure of group ideation and idea development.

Voting: If you’re looking for the most popular votes, larger number of voters and votes cast results in more statistically reliable reports.

Number of participants: Whether they vote on only a few ideas, or submitted a dozen ideas, the number of participants reached by a campaign can be a measure of successful reach.

To engage the crowd, you must determine which crowd you’re reaching out to. There are three basic sources for crowdsourcing:

Internal and Pre-Existing: The days of the all-knowing CEO have passed, reaching out to employees – of every level, taps into a much larger

External and Pre-Existing: For organizations interested in marketability and product development ideas, the desired crowd will be customers. Let the end-user tell you what they want and why – they come fully versed and eager to share their thoughts.

External Solicitation: At the core of innovation is Henry Chesbrough’s thesis that staying competitive means capitalizing on both internal and external sources.

IdeaScale has developed an Innovation Starter Kit to assist organizations in innovation. With your parameters in place, find out how to target for engagement in our Community Engagement Tip Sheet. Download the kit here for more tips and tools on planning, establishing, and moderating your campaign.