Category Archives: Webinar

How to Work Like a Startup

work like a startupStartups are some of the most successful and innovative businesses out there right now. Their very nature makes them primed for innovation programs and effective development of new ideas. Even if your organization is not a startup, there are invariably things that you can learn from the models presented by the startup ecosystem.

RocketSpace, a tech campus located in the Bay Area, has an open innovation consultancy which is specifically aimed at helping brands understand how startups work, how to work with them, and how to work like them.

With well-known alumni like Uber and Spotify, RocketSpace is well acquainted with the factors that go into creating a successful and recognizable startup. They are also ready to connect organizations with startups that might specialize in a desired area. After all, why start from scratch when there’s already somebody doing the thing that you want to do, and doing it better than you could do?

Join us on Wednesday, June 3 as we talk with Nick Davis at RocketSpace and Mat Fogarty at IdeaScale about innovation programs in our webinar, From Ideation to Incubation. Click here to register and learn more information. The webinar will address the 3 I’s of innovation, the 4 reasons that idea execution is difficult, how to de-risk new ideas, and how innovators can build their next big thing with RocketSpace. It will also feature a live Q&A.

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.

The Wisdom of Crowdsourcing

tmui_webinarIn 1906, British scientist Francis Galton took a day trip to the country fair that would uncover a principle critical to the idea of crowd-listening. It was the heyday of social Darwinism, and Galton believed very little in the common man; he was of the opinion that only proper breeding and the preservation of power for the elite could maintain a healthy society; few, to his mind, were suitable to make decisions or lead others.

Happening upon a contest to guess the weight of a fat ox, he decided to put the common man’s judgment to the test: he collected all 800 guesses at the end and ran statistical tests to see how far off this random collection was. To his great surprise, the average of all the answers was just one pound away from the cow’s actual weight – much closer than any individual’s guess, including the livestock experts’.

The wisdom of crowds… or the danger of mobs?

This stunning display of accuracy gave birth to the idea of the wisdom of crowds: that the judgments of a large number of people, averaged together, tend towards a high degree of correctness. The concept has been applied to a number of fields, to explain and defend such things as democratic governance, or Wikipedia. Crowdsourcing too relies heavily on the principle.

Some, though, question whether it is wisdom that tends to define large groups, or a dangerous mob mentality. Throughout history, large groups have committed appalling acts as individuals lose all sense of personal responsibility among the mob. Where is the line? What drives a crowd to one or the other end of the spectrum? And how can we use this knowledge to better the way we do crowdsourcing?

1. Diversity: Having diversity in a group is critical to getting ‘wise’ judgments. The reason for this is integral to the reason why the wisdom of the crowd works at all – when so many different viewpoints and ideas are combined together and aggregated, underestimations and overestimations cancel out; support and opposition strike a balance; every stretched and skewed and miscalculated piece of input is accounted for by another. The more different ideas there are, the more likely this process is to happen.

In the context of crowdsourcing technology, the best way to ensure diversity is to build welcoming communities that invite people and ideas of every kind. More importantly, the platform must be accessible to a wide range of people. It can be all too easy, when you’re building a website or system, to create something that specially fits your own mental models, but to encourage diversity your creation has to be easy for anybody to understand. It’s important that no group feels like someone else is being catered to or being treated with preference, and so testing your system with a wide variety of demographics – different incomes, education levels, ethnic backgrounds, web experience, and so on – is critical.

2. Independent generation of ideas: People in groups can be prone to bandwagoning and groupthink. The loudest voice grab followers, and the most popular opinion gets more popular. Of course, when this happens, all of the different viewpoints of the individuals in the crowd are lost as they throw in their lot with someone else. To preserve the crowd’s insight and wisdom, members must make their judgments independently, with minimal social influencing. That doesn’t mean they have to be an isolated hermit to have a valid opinion, but simply that when it comes time to speak their mind, they don’t feel overly pressured. For example, come election time we are unavoidably subject to all sorts of media and popular debate, but when we cast our ballot, it is done alone in a private booth.

For crowdsourcing, since most web users are already alone and less likely to be unduly swayed by their peers, the important thing is to give every idea exposure. When many users are submitting ideas and views, it is easy for submissions that gain early traction to get all the attention and sweep away less prominent or later submissions. It’s a tricky problem, but there are solutions, including letting crowd members vote or comment before seeing the successfulness of posts, or displaying a randomized selection of submissions, or providing rewards for reading or voting on more submissions.

The main thing is to be conscious of how users experience and are affected by the system, so that the flaws that sometimes surface in crowd thinking can be dealt with and prevented from turning your crowd into a mob. With the right framework, the crowd can be a powerful tool to generate quality feedback and can be harnessed to do a wide variety of work.

To hear about how the wisdom of crowds is being harnessed to take the work out of website usability research, sign up for the UXCrowd webinar on December 9th with IdeaScale CEO Rob Hoehn, former Zynga user research director Rob Aseron, and usability testing service TryMyUI.

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.

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.

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.

Going further with crowdsourced user testing: The System Usability Scale

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Opening your ears and eyes to input from every level is critical to staying innovative – a lesson the folks behind TryMyUI put into practice with crowdsourced web usability testing that connects businesses and organizations with real users and their concerns and insights. Video, audio, and written feedback are all invaluable in optimizing your website for the customer, but they don’t fill all the gaps in your self-understanding.

Imagine an Olympic swimmer that watches video to improve his form, invests in the newest and most advanced swimwear, and trains in the best of facilities. Every time he beats his personal record, he is making progress; but it’s hard to know what that progress means until he compares his time to the other top swimmers’ personal bests. In the same way, it is easier to understand and make the most of usability feedback when it is placed in the context of the bigger picture – How does your website chalk up to the myriad others? In what aspects is it stronger, or weaker? Grounding your user feedback in a broader context allows for a complete understanding of the nuances of not just your own system, but also of the global system of which it is a part.

Fortunately, a tool exists already that has been used for decades to this very purpose. The System Usability Scale (SUS) is a widely respected questionnaire that quantifies and standardizes usability data, allowing UX researchers to make meaningful comparisons between feedback that, in its video/audio form, is subjective and non-measurable. Today something of an industry standard in the usability field, SUS has long been a favorite for its simplicity and accuracy: ten questions, a five-point “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” response system, and a quick scoring algorithm yield an extremely reliable score for your website on a scale of 0 to 100.

1. I think that I would like to use this system frequently.
2. I found the system unnecessarily complex.
3. I thought the system was easy to use.
4. I think that I would need the support of a technical person to be able to use this system.
5. I found the various functions in this system were well integrated.
6. I thought there was too much inconsistency in this system.
7. I would imagine that most people would learn to use this system very quickly.
8. I found the system very cumbersome to use.
9. I felt very confident using the system.
10. I needed to learn a lot of things before I could get going with this system

SUS response scale

With thousands of previously documented uses to compare to, SUS gives you a solid idea of users’ overall satisfaction with your website, and can even be broken down into usability and learnability components. The percentile ranking contextualizes your raw score, allowing you to understand how your site performs relative to others; and some researchers have tried, with some success, to map adjectives like “excellent,” “poor,” or “worst imaginable” to individual scores for extra insight.

SUS quartiles and adjectives

By various accounts, the mean SUS score hovers around 68-70.5 (a score that roughly corresponds, as it happens, to the adjective “good,” though falling quite short of “excellent”). Normalizing score distribution with percentiles therefore makes a 68 (or a 70.5) into a 50% – better than half of all other systems tested, and worse than the other half.

Though described by its inventor as a “quick and dirty” measure, studies have found SUS to be among the most accurate and reliable of all usability surveys, across sample sizes. It has today become one of the most successful metrics for quantifying system satisfaction, with thousands using it to gauge user-friendliness over a wide range of products online and off.

It is these qualities that make SUS so key in getting a holistic picture of your website. By aggregating and synthesizing a diverse array of tester responses into a concise portrait of website usability, SUS brings a deeper understanding of what your user feedback really means. If individual test videos are the trees, SUS shows you not only the forest, but the entire ecosystem into which your system fits; with a widely-trusted industry standard to rely on, you can take a step back from your own company and see how you fit into the broader world that surrounds you.

To learn more about the System Usability Scale and its application in UX research, join TryMyUI and Measuring Usability’s Jeff Sauro for the SUS Webinar on October 9.

 

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.