Author Archives: suzanbideascale

Getting Beyond Top-Voted Ideas & Harnessing the Collective Wisdom of the Crowd

image curtesy of Ben Terret via flickr

image courtesy of Ben Terret via flickr

Suzan Briganti, CEO & Founder, Totem Inc. and IdeaScale Advisory Partner

Crowdsourcing is based on the idea that under certain conditions, crowds can be wiser than experts. Some collection platforms focus solely on ideas that receive the highest number of votes. But do top-rated ideas really capture the full wisdom of the crowd?

What are the collective patterns in crowd ideas? Totem has been analyzing the collective patterns in crowdsourcing campaigns for three years now, and the results are astonishing. Here are some amazing crowd-discovered accomplishments:      

Crowds identified an innovation “white space” for a global beer conglomerate that had gone undetected – despite millions of dollars of R&D.
Crowds have powered a development roadmap for one of the leading tech firms in the world.
And crowds are envisioning the strategic plan in 2030 for a major UK university.

However, oftentimes, lists of  top-rated ideas do not capture such collective patterns in crowd campaigns. Nor is the simple post-and-vote approach designed to do so!  These accomplishments didn’t emerge simply by plucking the ideas with the highest votes. What do you do after idea collection? What begins as ideas need refinement so that various stakeholders can understand and evaluate them. Why?

Because crowds express their ideas in a wide variety of forms and degrees of finish. One idea may be stated in a single line of text. Another idea is a mini-business plan. And a third may be submitted as a video. How can you evaluate ideas expressed in such disparate formats? Idea conversion is the key, so that you are evaluating ideas apples-to-apples.

There is an art to expressing an idea this way. Totem has delivered top-scoring, test-ready concepts to diverse clients – concepts that have gone on to impressive market success.

Beyond ideas to crowd insights Ideas are extremely important, but are just part of the innovation process. Where do ideas fit in? An idea typically proposes a solution, but to what problem? There are a few questions that should be asked of every idea:      

– What problem is the idea solving, and for whom?
Is the problem widely experienced?
Is the problem associated with a mild or intense pain point?
Can your organization solve the problem?

Identifying problems worth solving can increase your innovation ROI by up to 50 percent. Why? Because otherwise you can spend millions developing a solution to a problem that is only experienced by a niche market, or that your customers see as “nice to have,” but not worth paying for. We state such problems as “insights.” Crowds have generated fresh insights that can power entire innovation pipelines for years – as new solutions become feasible.

To summarize: Voting is a valuable way to view your crowd ideas, and will remain an important one. But to get the full value from crowdsourcing, you need to harness the crowd’s collective wisdom, convert ideas so they can be evaluated apples-to-apples, and also capture crowd insights.

Tune into the upcoming webinar with Suzan Briganti, CEO & Founder, Totem, Inc. and IdeaScale Advisory Partner on Tuesday April, 29th at 10am PST for an introduction to crowd analysis, idea normalization and insight development. Increase your innovation success rate by up to 50 percent. Register now.

Three Reasons Why Facebook is Not an Ideation Platform

IdeationMany companies think they are crowdsourcing innovation because they engage their Facebook followers in discussion around new products. Here are three reasons why this is faulty thinking:

1. A blunt instrument

Facebook lets followers “like” a comment or idea, and that’s fine if you’re asking people what color they’d like to paint the office walls, or what new flavor they’d like to see in your soda range. Ideas with a high “cuteness factor,” or ideas submitted by a very popular person in the community, may get voted up for the wrong reasons. Any topic with more complex or strategic importance to your organization deserves a more 3-D evaluation.

Of course, IdeaScale Assessment Tools enable users to assess ideas based on critical dimensions such as desirabilty, feasibilty and business Impact. These metrics can be customized to the sponsor’s needs and topic, resulting in more credible results in your organization.

2. Followers ≠ Innovators 

Who follows your brand? People who love it, are passionate about it, and want to be publicly associated with it. That’s great for building brand enthusiasm, but are these people likely to be innovators?

In one research study, respondents with the most social media connections and were also the most active in social media were not likely to be prolific idea generators or divergent thinkers. They were not necessarily Early Adopters of new products either. So Facebook CAN be part of your innovation process, but remember, fans only represent your current, highly loyal fan base and are statistically more likely to be Early Mass Adopters or Late Adopters (read: followers). They are not innovators, and in fact are more likely to reject unfamiliar new ideas.

3. Like a conveyer belt

Facebook moves along like a conveyer belt – the kind you load your groceries onto at the grocery store. Posts move along and can get buried under more recent posts. So if you use Facebook for ideation, a great idea uploaded before a long weekend (for example) isn’t likely to get a lot of eyeballs, or be voted up. Or a great idea that is poorly expressed may not go viral. And any idea can get buried in chatter.

IdeaScale allows moderators to ensure all ideas are seen and evaluated equally, regardless of who submits them or when. So you’re less likely to overlook a badly timed or “sleeper” idea.

With all that in mind, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

Whether you use Facebook fans or your own employees to source ideas, ask yourself:

a. How relevant is a “like” or a “vote?”
How credible are these criteria likely to be at the C-suite level of your organization? Do you need more nuanced idea assessment? Ask us about the IdeaScale Assessment module.

b. Do you have proven innovators in your community, or just fans?
Use Facebook fans to understand how Early Mass/Late adopters may react to new ideas, but don’t expect them to innovate, or let them have veto power over new and disruptive innovations. Ask us how we detect and recruit true innovators.

c. Are you moderating ideas to deliver true crowd wisdom?
Make sure your crowd works like a crowd, not a mob. Active professional moderation and the right workflow ensures the four conditions for successful crowdsourcing are maintained: diversity, independence, decentralization and aggregation. Ask about IdeaScale professional moderation and training.

If you want to learn more, you can contact me at @skuzin, or and we can discuss IdeaScale’s Advisory Services offering and how you might benefit.