Category Archives: Best Practice

Advice about Open Innovation from Greektown-Casino

OIAwards2014IdeaScale is pleased to have completed another year of Open Innovation Awards. This year, we learned a lot about engagement, innovation metrics, and more from our winners and we invited one of our runners up to join us in an interview about their open innovation program: Lori Snetsinger from the Greektown Casino.

Located in the heart of Detroit’s premier entertainment district, the Greektown Casino-Hotel provides best-in-class gaming choices, exceptional accommodations and award-winning restaurants.

In 2014, the Greektown Casino-Hotel launched “The Cheese Factory” whose goal was to make all 1,500 casino team members feel like they were being heard. “The Cheese Factory” was an IdeaScale community where employees could share their great thoughts and ideas and tell ways to make their company better, while also addressing what needs to be fixed, what would make their jobs easier and what would make customers happier.

The casino formed an internal team called “The Mousetrap Team,” whose sole purpose was to serve this initiative.  This team was 100% responsible for moderating all of the ideas that were submitted.

Greektown Casino shares some additional insight here:

IdeaScale: How long have you been utilizing IdeaScale?
Greektown Casino: We received our first piece of “cheese” on May 16, 2014.

IS: Why is innovation vital to your organization?
GC: The Mousetrap Team’s philosophy is centered around being obsessed with finding a better way.  Our team members are out on the floor every day and know the property better than anyone.  We rely on our team members to provide us with game-changing ideas on how to make Greektown Casino-Hotel the best casino in Detroit!

IS: What’s the most important piece of advice that you can give to someone launching an IdeaScale community?
GC: The most important piece for us was getting the word out to all of our team members.  Less than 50% of our team here has a company email address, so we had custom business cards created that we handed out to every team member during our latest team member rallies.  The cards had the link to the Cheese Factory, as well as our email address to field any questions on the sign-up process.

IS: What are you most proud of in your innovation program?
GC: I think the biggest point of pride has been being able to give our team members a voice in the changes around the property.  Wooden suggestion boxes and verbal communication are great, but oftentimes those mediums lack follow-up.  “The Cheese Factory” allows team members to interact with the Mousetrap Team in a way where they feel their voices are truly being heard.  We respond to all ideas within 72 hours, and begin vetting the ideas with the business immediately.  We are relentless in our efforts to make sure our team members are in the loop for the entire process, and we think that gives everyone a real sense of ownership.

To learn more best practices from OI award winners visit http://ideascale.com/2014-open-innovation-awards/

What advice would you share? What else do you want to learn from OI Award winners?

Don’t Stop Now: Why You Can’t Stop Innovating Once You Start

image curtesy of randy heinitz via flickr

image courtesy of randy heinitz via flickr

Innovation is a tough topic. It’s one of those words that is overused, over-hyped and generally misunderstood. In fact, over the past few years, a number of thought leaders published in the Harvard Business Review, Forbes and other venues have urged the elimination of the word innovation from business vocabularies.

Has the word itself become the business equivalent of cute cats and selfies?

Regardless of what you might want to replace it with, the concept is necessary even though innovators like Thomas Edison and Leonardo Da Vinci probably never used the word “innovate” in describing what they were doing.

Problems, problems
Probably one of the biggest struggles of organizations that want to innovate is coming up with a definition of innovation that actually helps them determine when they’ve been successful at innovating.

Another thing that makes innovation difficult is that the products of innovation are not always accepted by the marketplace. This is a double-edged sword that makes everything more difficult from forecasting revenue and ROI, to identifying target markets, marketing messaging, and

Oftentimes, too, innovation can introduce unexpected supply chain problems.

Risk is a requirement
Innovation is incredibly risky business. This is why most companies are willing to let others do the innovating and then play follow-the leader. This “drafting the leader” approach to business strategy makes innovation doubly risky for innovators because just the act of innovating, in most cases, lowers the barriers to entry for competitors.

This means that once you start playing the innovation game, there is no stopping. If innovation is required to establish a market leadership position, it is also required, in many cases, to maintain a market leadership position. This innovation imperative, once it is adopted can hardly ever be set aside. Instead of playing an innovation tournament at the end of a season, innovation must become a full-time preoccupation for, well, ever.

That being the case, innovation becomes a much bigger challenge than simply allocating some creative thinkers, giving them a budget, equipping a secretive workspace in which they can make their magic, designating them the “Innovation Department.”

It isn’t pocket change
Innovation means change. Not incremental change, but sweeping change that requires conceptual shifts for both the introducers of the change and the consumers of the the change. This kind of change is messy and unpredictable. This kind of change hardly ever happens without a strong leader.

Sustaining an ongoing innovation effort requires investment on many levels. For an organization to build a culture that can sustainably support relentless innovation, the investments are substantial–another reason corporations would rather play second fiddle in the innovation orchestra.

Here are some of the ways organizations can prepare.

1. Diversity – One of the essentials of innovation is a diversity of inputs from a variety of perspectives. This means people with different cultural, educational, experiential and even spiritual backgrounds and world-views.

Most recruiting practices today are designed to comply with government mandated, politically correct diversity requirements, but the departments in charge of this bean counting approach to diversity will never satisfy the diversity requirements for innovation. This is, in fact, one of the conceptual shifts required.

2. Personal time – Another crucial factor in innovation is having time to reconfigure things in one’s own mental space. This activity is not something that happens in a collaborative setting; it is intensely private.

Measuring the success or productivity of this activity cannot be accomplished with traditional manufacturing-style productivity measures. There must be a liberal allowance for this type of personal investment in personal conceptual shifts, away from interactive and collaborative settings and situations.

3. Flexible organizational structure – Creative people have little use for hierarchical organizational structures with all the lines and dotted lines traditionally used in org charts. Innovators are more interested in results than reports and deliverables. Building this into the culture of an organization requires a leadership conceptual shift around what really matters most.

Creative people basically interact with everyone as a peer. The flatter an organization or team is, the more successful it is likely to be at innovation.

*     *     *

No one knows in advance which combination of people, elements, ideas, events, models, diagrams, jokes, or magazine articles are going to be the combination that pulls everything together for the next game-changing conceptual shift.

The best an organization can do is make sure there is plenty of opportunity for these things to happen in as many ways as possible and encourage them to happen as often as possible. This sounds like a big risk, but if growth is a requirement, not being configured to support and sustain innovation is much riskier.

Guest Author, Ivan SerranoThis guest post is authored by Ivan Serrano, a business journalist and infographic specialist located in Northern California.

3 Challenges to Innovation Without Borders

IdeaScale blog readers are probably very familiar with the idea of innovation without borders – a theory similar to open innovation – in which all ideas can come from anywhere (internal or external – regardless of job title, discipline, or mission) and those ideas can also be made into a reality by anyone. However, there are some concerns that people have when opening up dialogue on a global level. Before implementing any open innovation technology solution, organizations should be able to answer concerns in three main areas:

Security. This dialogue might be transparent, but maintaining a secure network is crucial to the network’s trust of you and protection of private information associated with these accounts. Make sure that your innovation platform has top-level security (as well as scalability).

Global Collaboration. Accessibility is probably the most important part of any innovation without borders initiative since engagement is the key to success. Is your dialogue open to people of all languages, people of all abilities, is it present in more than just a social forum, can you share ideas in an offline context?

Evaluation Capability. It’s a great idea, but is it right for you? This is the question that every business needs to answer when they’re looking at potential new innovations. Maybe it would be a great new feature – but the technology doesn’t exist yet or maybe it would be a great new process – but it’s not possible to institute for financial reasons. Evaluating each idea for its business relevance as well as its ROI should be part of any innovation program.

If you’re interested in learning more about “Innovation without Borders,” register for a complimentary webinar with guests from Accenture, IdeaScale, and the former CTO of the United States of America. The online session will be followed with a live Q&A.

What Does Flex Time Really Imply?

Everyone is fond of bringing up 3M and Google’s practice that offered their employees “20% Time” to try out new ideas outside of their job description. In other words, one day out of their week – they didn’t have a title or a job description – but rather just the organizational goal of making their company better.

So we’ve all heard of different permutations of this flexible time, but what about flex boundaries? Although it certainly behooves organizations to offer their employees organizational objectives so that everyone understands the goal that they are collaboratively working towards, an employee’s role should never be so prescribed that they have no freedom to be creative.

Here’s one of our favorite examples: when Allstate was looking for design ideas for a mobile app that it was launching, the winning idea was sourced from one of the firm’s trial attorneys based out of the Buffalo office – hardly the head of their mobile marketing division. And if everyone just stuck to their job descriptions and never concerned themselves with the larger needs of the organization, then the pace of innovation today would be a lot slower.

This is why the idea of “innovation without borders” is gaining traction. That job flexibility applies to a number of parameters – including the boundaries that once separated different departments from one another, different, organizations from each other, and those organizations from the rest of the world that they serve. In the borderless innovation program, everyone can play a role in making the world a better place.

If you’re interested in learning more about “Innovation Without Borders,” register today for our upcoming webinar.

Following the crowd to mobile: Why you need to optimize for devices

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 4.54.53 PMThis month, over 1 billion people will use Facebook from a mobile device. Of that billion, 399 million will never see their newsfeed on a computer screen – about 30% of all active Facebook users access the site exclusively through mobile. Mr. Zuckerberg’s ubiquitous social network is not unique in this; last year, for the first time, Americans spent more time on their smartphones than on their computers, and in January 2014 mobile apps surpassed desktop browsing in total share of internet usage.

mobilewebusageWeb usage on mobile devices vs. computers: mobile is already ahead

Everywhere, the importance of mobile is growing. The effect is disproportionately strong in online commerce, where mobile has rapidly overtaken desktop as the primary setting for customer interaction. Companies like StubHub have seen a majority of their traffic flock to mobile, where a ticket is now purchased every 6 seconds. 67% of online consumers say they are more likely to buy from a company whose site is optimized for mobile; 30% are liable to abandon a purchase midway through the process if the shopping experience is not mobile-friendly.

That’s why it’s so important that your online presence is carefully designed to cater to the mobile masses. As much as people love to online shop on their phones and tablets these days, rising expectations or shorter attention spans or the proliferation of choices or some other variable has created a finicky mobile market. It is not enough to simply offer online shopping for mobile – consumers want streamlined, user-friendly mobile shopping experiences that look good, feel comfortable, function smoothly, and inspire trust and credibility.

In a 2013 survey by Jumio, two-thirds of mobile consumers reported abandoning a purchase – half of them because the checkout process just took too long or was too difficult. Another quarter said their purchase failed because it didn’t go through, and still more cited concerns for the security of their payment information. Clearly, despite the ever-increasing importance of mobile, most online retailers aren’t doing enough to maximize the opportunities it offers.

Of course, as with everything, there are exceptions. Florist ProFlowers optimized their website for mobile devices and saw a 20-30% increase in their conversion rate. Not only that, they found that having a well-designed mobile presence increases conversions on desktop devices as well. That’s because mobile visitors are much more likely to return to your site on their computer if they are satisfied with their mobile experience, thanks to high rates of device-switching to accomplish tasks online.

So, are you optimizing your online presence for mobile? Think about the people using your mobile website or app as it is today: are you confident that they would be willing to input their credit card information without hesitation? That they would be able to read your content and descriptions without pinching and zooming? That they would feel at ease navigating through your menus, search results, and product pages?

Or would they be part of the 47% that felt the checkout process was so long and tortuous as to make it not worth their time?

Mobile is too big to ignore. No more crossing your fingers and hoping your website designed for the computer screen will be good enough for the demanding mobile audience. It’s time to listen to the trends and give people what they want: an experience as easy and user-friendly on their phones and tablets as on their computers.

Want to learn more about designing for mobile? TryMyUI is hosting a webinar on The State of Mobile UX November 4th with Chandika Bhandari of Seattle AppLab and Derek Olson of Foraker Labs. Join here: http://trymyui.com/webinar/The-State-Of-Mobile-UX

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.

The Value of a Value Proposition

value propositionIt is not uncommon in the Bay Area to have people skip right over some of the most commonly thought of questions for entrepreneurs. Things like “what’s your great idea?” or “give me your elevator pitch” fall by the wayside in favor of a different question: what is your value proposition?

To be fair, if you’re developing a truly innovative great idea – you’re going to come up against all those questions eventually, but the value proposition is something that lies at the heart of it all and is something that separates an idea from a business.

For those of you who don’t want to do the googling, I’ll tell you that Wikipedia defines a value proposition as “a promise of value to be delivered and acknowledged and a belief from the customer that value will be appealed and experienced […] Creating a value proposition is a part of business strategy. Kaplan and Norton say ‘Strategy is based on a differentiated customer value proposition. Satisfying customers is the source of sustainable value creation.’”

There are numerous ways to get at answers that help shape not just a value proposition, but an entire business plan. However, the Enterprise Development Group is a team of expert thinkers, facilitators and trainers who have been consulting since 1986 have developed a template for organizations to refine their ideas and turn them into articulate business plans that has been utilized by numerous businesses large and small. The template is called CO-STAR.

CO-STAR is a series of questions that must be answered in order to articulate an innovation’s value proposition. When applied, this template helps companies answer questions like: Will the idea be relevant to a customer? Will there be a market for it? How is it taking advantage of an emerging trend or a new technology? Is it better than other available alternatives? What kind of returns can be expected? Once articulated, it is easier to develop market-worthy ventures.

This is why IdeaScale created the CO-STAR module within the innovation management tool, so that this kind of business plan thinking can be applied to every great idea. If you want to learn more about CO-STAR and how it can help propel your brand forward, join IdeaScale in hosting EDG and BBC in a webinar about converting great ideas into great business plans. This complimentary webinar will take place on October 21st at 9 a.m. PST and be followed by a live Q&A. Register today.

Innovation Without Borders: Creating Change Movements November 19th, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. PST

innowobordersWhat if your brainstorming group went global?

Building a successful innovation program requires flexible boundaries between disciplines, a focus on multiple organizational goals, and the ability to measure value beyond the bottom line. Enter innovation without borders – the ability to connect globally with multiple networks that will propel a business forward.

Everyone is now familiar with what they call Joy’s Law: “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.” Sourcing ideas globally, publicly from a rich network of stakeholders, customers, subject matter experts and beyond is a resource that is now available to organizations of all sizes in this digital age.

Join IdeaScale in this exclusive webinar that explores the boundaries of ideation, the best practices that are part of borderless innovation, and the structure that helps shape success. This webinar will cover:

•  An introduction to borderless innovation

•  A discussion of how technology supplements borderless innovation

•  A summary of how innovation without borders was applied in a global competition

The webinar will include a live Q&A with the speakers. Join us and register for this complimentary webinar today!

Speakers Include:
Prith Banerjee, Managing Director of Global Technology R&D, Accenture
Rob Hoehn, CEO, IdeaScale
Aneesh Chopra, former CTO of the United States

Beyond the Idea

image curtesy of firelknot via flickr.

image courtesy of firelknot via flickr

A great idea can be hard won or emerge in a moment. But the idea isn’t the end of the journey, it’s only the beginning. The ground between a great idea and a great success spans development, launch, and reception.

Google’s gmail took over three years to develop, it launched in beta eight years after it was first attempted. The early development, where it was used internally, and the beta stages accessible by invite only users, allowed google, a search site, to refine their new offering. It’s hard now to remember a time when the launch of gmail seemed questionable, but at the time of launch is was poised to be a breakthrough, or a miserable failure. From the search function to the massive storage, the free email functioned more as an app than its competitors’ website centered functionality. Every feature that set google apart represented a user preference. (Time)

An idea must have an audience, as 3M chemist Spencer Silver discovered. Silver discovered a mild adhesive, just strong enough to attach to an object, but weak enough for the bond to be broken, and then adhesive to still adhere to a new surface. Unfortunately, this discovery was made in the process of attempting to create new, stronger adhesives, so Silver’s discovery was officially shelved. Undeterred, Silver persisted in sharing his discovery with his coworkers and colleagues. The core idea of the adhesive became the post-it note when another 3M employee sought a way to get his bookmarks to stay in a book without falling out. (NPR)

The development phase is where an idea turns into a market worthy offering with strong value proposition. As valuable as this development is, a succinct template for refinement can improve time to market. On October 21st IdeaScale is broadcasting a complimentary webinar to introduce CO-STAR: a refinement template and new module within our innovation management tool. Guests from EDG, the creators of the CO-STAR method, and the BBC will present the template and share use cases. Register today.

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