Category Archives: IdeaScale

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.

Blog Migration

Greetings IdeaScale followers,

I wanted to let you know that we’ll ’ll be moving our blog to and that your subscriptions will hopefully be going along with us.  This is because, while you will continue to receive email notifications of new posts as before, followers will only see new posts in the Reader. You will not receive email updates unless you subscribe to receive those on your new site here:

Looking forward to sharing lots of new insights and ideas about innovation!

Challenge to Advance Drug Abuse and Addiction Research

image1grayThe most recent statistics show that 7.9 million Americans, 12 or older, used hallucinogens or psychotherapeutic prescription drugs non-medically within the past month (NIDA). Of the approximately 7,898 Americans who use drugs for the first time every day, more than half (52%) are under the age of 18 at the time (NIDA). As of 2012 approximately 23.1 million Americans suffered from drug or alcohol abuse or dependence, while only 2.5 million actually received treatment for their dependence or abuse from a specialty facility. From current addicts to future substance abusers to their families and friends, these issues affect our nation daily.

Part of the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is dedicated to leveraging science in the research and treatment of drug abuse and addiction. As part of their 2016-2020 strategic planning, NIDA is running a series of open innovation challenges targeted to drive advancements in the research of drug abuse and addiction treatment methods, systems, and approaches from outside of their organization and traditional networks. The second challenge of this series is titled, “Harnessing Insights from other Disciplines to Advance Drug Abuse and Addiction Research.”

NIDA will be awarding a prize pool of up to $25,000, including a potential $15,000 for 1st place. Submissions are being accepted through June 30th, followed by a three week judging period, with winners being announced on August 6, 2015. All submissions should describe an innovative concept or technology and how it can be applied to an outstanding question in drug abuse or addiction research. Find full submission requirements and deadlines at the challenge page.

With this open innovation challenge, NIDA wants to reach out beyond networks and researches traditionally associated with drug abuse and addiction to leverage recent advances in research and technology in their own research. This challenge is part of NIDA’s strategic planning for 2016-2020. Seeking innovations that could influence the direction of research for those years, NIDA finds it important to utilize findings in any and all fields that could improve research in drug abuse and addiction. Do you have specialized knowledge that could yield results in their research? Submit today: Insights from other Disciplines Challenge.


introducing causetechEver wanted to change the world from the comfort of your own home? You may have a chance to do just that.

A new global innovation ecosystem will soon make its debut. Utilizing a dedicated community site CauseTech.Net, powered by IdeaScale, the “Succeed Where There’s a Need” campaign promotes social entrepreneurship and aims to aggregate the world’s best and brightest. The focus is specifically on helping UNICEF scale its efforts to meet the ever-growing needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and excluded children across 150 countries. suggests five big challenges that the campaign is trying to address: lack of access to water, lack of access to education, lack of access to electricity, lack of access to sanitation, and lack of access to health care. You can also see examples of innovations that are already working to improve these situations, including a self-powered streetlight and a water generator that produces drinking water from air.

UNICEF is joined in partnership by the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network and the Global Renewable Energy & Environmental Network (GREEN), as well as a number of other esteemed partners and affiliates. At every level—from an individual who might have an innovative idea to private sector partners who can help fund the scaling of projects—there is an opportunity to support the initiative.

Dr. Sharad Sapra, the director of the UNICEF Global Innovation Center, said of the campaign, “Our development strategy is to be the connector between all the relevant actors in the value chain, to ensure innovative solutions can be successfully implemented and scaled across regions and contexts. Achieving our goal of reaching every child requires disrupting ‘business as usual.’ New ways of thinking have to be developed. Assumptions and strategies must change. That’s why innovation is so important.”

Dr. Sapra talks about CauseTech in this video about the program:


The platform will allow for ongoing ideation, but will also run timed contests curated by UNICEF Innovation teams. The first official contest will focus on alternative energy solutions for Burundi, a country where only three percent of the population is connected to the electricity grid.

You can find out more by visiting CauseTech.Net.

Strategies for Maximizing Government Employees for City Crowdsourcing


City governments all have the same goal: to improve their communities for their citizens in a smarter and more creative way. An issue that local government leaders run into is in creating both cost-effective and efficient solutions to issues that citizens think are important. The best source of innovation and new ideas often comes from internally. Harnessing city employees’ wisdom can prove to be the best way to begin improving a city for all members of the community.

Within the employee pool, there are individuals who will rise above the rest, and emerge as innovation leaders. These leaders who are interested and committed to innovative, new ideas for the city will prove to be instrumental in improving cities. Utilizing these individuals as influencers in their respective departments will promote innovation from within.

Another key to promoting and maintaining innovation is recognizing active participants in the community. Identifying those who are involved and participate in generating and contributing ideas is crucial. This will help in boosting employee satisfaction because their opinions are being heard and acknowledged.

The platform for idea generation and discussion must foster open communication among all groups. Employees across departments and levels should be encouraged to communicate their ideas with one another. Further, decision makers should offer input and participate in these discussions as well. This creates a sense of community and accomplishment that will drive participation.

By integrating government employees in coming up with solutions to city issues, decision makers can determine what issues are of most importance and fast track policies that will address those issues first. Read about how the City of Atlanta crowdsourced ideas from their government employees which resulted in ideas that had a potential cost savings of $7.1 million.

What are some other ideas that local governments can use to include employees in generating creative solutions to city issues?

One Weird Thing About Customer Satisfaction

customer satisfactionHere’s one weird thing about customer satisfaction: it may be that your employees have the key to improving it. After all, employees are the people who interact with customers on a day-to-day basis, and are most aware of common concerns amongst customers, as well as improvements that will have the biggest impact. Further, employees have knowledge of the structure and resources of the organization from the inside, so they are better equipped to recommend practical changes.

Banchile Inversiones, a Chilean management company that provides one of the largest mutual funds markets and stock brokerage businesses in the country, has firsthand experience with this phenomenon of employee feedback to improve customer satisfaction. Like many other companies, they had long welcomed employee input through antiquated systems like email and evaluations, but found those systems difficult to scale up. In an effort to continue to gather great ideas, and to ensure that employees felt heard, Banchile started using IdeaScale.

Perhaps their most effective strategy was the extensive planning and design surrounding the implementation of the innovation initiative. Not only did they have a system in place for gathering and evaluating ideas, they also created a comprehensive strategy to stimulate internal engagement. The latter is especially important when you are introducing a completely new feedback system within your company. Banchile had a three-pronged approach: a CEO announcement at annual company meeting; email with a link to the community to every employee; and a method of rewards for involvement.

In addition to this internal marketing approach, the team also responded to every idea that was put forth. Combined, these efforts impressed upon employees an appreciation of their input and incentive to continue to participate.

As a result, Banchile was able to identify five new projects through their first campaign that will help to improve customer satisfaction company-wide.

To read more about how Banchile Inversiones enacted their innovation campaigns, and about the five new projects which were implemented, download our recent case study here.

Why Does the Government Need Innovation Now?


Innovation seems to be the buzzword these days when it comes to technology, business, policy, and everything in between. The Partnership for Public Service, Deloitte, and Hay Group  recently released their 2014 report on the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government. The top ranked agencies, NASA, the State Department, and the Commerce Department have remained constant for the past two years. These agencies have also consistently ranked higher than their other government counterparts for innovation. Why are government agencies focused so heavily on innovation lately?

As the government is experiencing budget cuts, agencies need innovative ideas to create more efficient and improved services and ways of doing business. However, federal agencies often face a number of challenges other than limited budgets; lack of employee engagement, low levels of employee motivation, traditional policies, and an absence of new ideas all impede an agency’s ability to advance. Focusing efforts on innovation is an opportunity for agencies to address and overcome these challenges.

What are some other reasons governments are innovating?

•Attract more potential employees. Millennials look for workplaces that have reputations of innovation and creativity when looking for jobs

•Increase your employees’ satisfaction by rewarding innovative ideas

•Increase employee engagement with new projects and policies

Read more about government agencies that are working to implement innovation into their ways of doing business and how IdeaScale fostered a platform of ideas that ended up saving the government $42 million by 2014. What opportunities do these agencies have to further improve and to save the government more in the future?

Citizen City Planning

citizen city planningHave you ever had an idea that would make the city you live in better? Chances are you have. Did you have the opportunity to share your idea with the decision makers of your city, and feel like you were heard? Chances are you haven’t, which is kind of strange given that citizen city planning is one of the most effective, useful, advantageous options for city planning.

In an IdeaScale study, three particular advantages to crowdsourced planning were surfaced: quicker changes, less risky changes, and appreciated improvements.

In December, we looked more in depth at a government agency that exemplified the two latter advantages. The Fairfax County Parks Authority recently entered a multiple-stage campaign to acquire ideas, evaluate, and enact improvements to the parks. This campaign will allow for the Parks Authority to be sure that changes are appreciated; after all, if the changes were suggested by citizens, those citizens are likely to appreciate them! Further, if citizens have the opportunity to examine the ideas put forth by the Parks Authority itself, those citizens are more prepared for the potential outcomes and are able to provide input along the way.

While the Fairfax County Parks Authority is moving slowly and steadily through the process, there are definitely instances where the “quicker changes” advantage applies. For example, the planning initiative in Huntsville, Alabama served to affirm some changes which were already in the pipeline, and could be accelerated as a result of confirmation from the population that the ideas were on the right track.

The big question is, seeing evidence of these positive outcomes, why would governments NOT crowdsource with their citizens to make community improvements?

To read more about the benefits of citizen city planning, including specific city examples, download Citizen City Planning: Collaborating with Citizens for a Better City.

IdeaScale and the NYPD

nypdIn early April, IdeaScale added another organization to its storied ranks: the New York Police Department.

In an article in The New York Times, the NYPD shared their plans to start a pilot program of IdeaScale as an avenue of citizens sharing concerns. The plan is to implement the program in a few neighborhoods in the 109th Precinct in Queens, using the platform specifically for reporting on quality of life issues, at least at the beginning.

The NYPD has successfully built campaigns aimed at connecting with the citizens of New York, specifically via social media. IdeaScale enhances the possibilities further, because it is highly interactive and dynamic. Not only can citizens recommend quality of life improvements around their neighborhoods, they will also be able to vote and collaborate with their neighbors, working together with police as well to present ideas innovate.

Further, it provides folks the opportunity to participate in an easy, low-impact way: they can contribute without having to leave home, which ultimately means they will be more likely to participate.

Deputy Inspector Thomas Conforti of the NYPD, in response to concerns that IdeaScale may just be used to reinforce police priorities, said that was not the intention. The NYPD plans to utilize the platform not only responsively, but also by presenting questions about specific topics for feedback from the population.

The introduction of IdeaScale to these communities began on April 8. We look forward to observing how the NYPD’s use of IdeaScale will grow and develop, as well as how they will choose to moderate and interact with the citizens who utilize the platform.

What do you think about the NYPD’s use of IdeaScale?

Finding the Ideas: Where Great Ideas Come From


Image Courtesy of Shutterstock


Our culture places a very high value on creativity. We give TED Talks about it, write books about it, and generally spend a lot of time contemplating it. But despite all this talk, it remains stubbornly elusive. There’s no two ways about it: it’s hard to be creative. It just might be one of the hardest things people try to do.

Creative thinking is affected by your entire being: how you slept last night, what you ate today, what you read before you went to sleep last night—the list goes on. But it turns out that a lot of creativity has to do with your working environment. Where you work affects how you think, and there are many studies to prove it.



Hotels are a great sort of limbo between real life and fantasy. The setting is dingily cinematic, familiar and alien all at once. It seems like strange things could easily have happened in this room, maybe even quite recently. Likewise, all you have in the way of entertainment is pay-per-view TV, so they can become incubators for ideas.

Think about it: you’re alone in an unfamiliar city. What a perfect time to get some real thinking done! Sure, you could spring for the wifi and just connect to the world like you always do, but maybe stay off the grid for a night, and see what your mind cooks up while the internet’s out.

And, research shows you’ll be in good company. The famous author Maya Angelou is said to always have booked hotel rooms to do her writing, finding them to be perfect for removing distractions and focusing on the task at hand. In her words: “I go into the room and I feel as if all my beliefs are suspended. Nothing holds me to anything.”



Image Courtesy of Shutterstock


Trains and planes

Sometimes it can be hard to take the time to get creative because you feel like you should be spending time working on something more immediately rewarding. But time spent traveling is essentially dead time: you have to spend that time moving, and there’s a limit to the amount of other work you can get finished on your way.

But, taken another way, these cramped spaces are perfect little workshops. They’re slightly uncomfortable, so they naturally encourage you to be introspective. The scenery flows by serenely yet quickly, changing, but staying static at the same time. You’re free to let your eyes glaze over as you look through the window and get that thought just right before you put it down on paper.

There’s a lot of evidence that many writers found trains to be excellent sources of creativity and great places to write. Amtrak even offers a writer’s residency, where they say writers can do their work in “unique workspace of a long-distance train.”


In public

Next time you need to make that breakthrough, grab a notebook and head out for a coffee. Take the coffee to somewhere nice and busy, like a central square (or even stay at the cafe if it seems to be a lively place). Sit somewhere a bit further back, where you can see a wide angle of all the action. And just watch. Try to figure out what’s happening with each of these people you can see, their fears, motivations, dreams, and desires. Imagine what it’s like to be them.

This can be a great way to remove yourself from your own context and really inspire some creativity, and better yet—it’s supported by science. A recent study showed that the background noise of a cafe is the perfect balance between loud and quiet, and it allows us to focus without becoming lost in our own minds. Not at a coffee shop? Try Coffitivity, a website that plays coffeeshop background noise so you can focus wherever you are.


A library or bookstore

Sometimes, the most important creation is just brute-forced out of your brain. Sometimes you have to sit and just work at something for hours on end, squeezing every tiny step out of your mind like a damp rag. These are the tough ideas, and they take dedication.

It’s also, unsurprisingly, the perfect place to read, and many studies have shown reading to be essential for stimulating creativity. The library or a bookstore is the perfect place to sit in silence with absolutely no distraction and turn your unbroken focus to the task at hand.


The Automation of Creativity

Not only are people looking for ways to think creatively, but they are looking to remove the burden by letting lines of computer code put the pieces together. Things like business name generators, online logo makers, and copywriting computers are becoming increasingly popular as businesses pursue every avenue to cut costs and save time. Although there is an argument that these tools are the death of creativity, you cannot deny that automation like this requires an immense amount of creativity to design and develop.




Nick RojasNick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has  contributed articles to, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas, or you can reach him at