Tag Archives: best practices

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.

Best 2015 SXSW Sessions

sxswThis Friday begins SXSW 2015 in Austin. The annual festival—which includes a focus on music, film, and interactive technologies—was designed as an opportunity for creative people and the companies they work with to meet and share ideas. That continues to be the goal today, and more and more, SXSW Interactive sessions specifically highlight innovation and crowdsourcing.

As these are two of IdeaScale’s favorite things, here are five suggestions for sessions to check out if you are attending SXSW:

1. City 2.0: Why Local Government Bets on Civic Innovation
This session explores the usefulness of civic innovation (a.k.a. utilizing citizen ideas to tackle real urban problems). We love this idea, as we have many local governments doing exactly this with our platform!

2. Innovation Through Impact Filmmaking
Exploring the connection between filmmaking and the growing ability for international communities to be connected to causes that drive impact, this session features Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Kweku Mandela.

3. NASA Prizes: Dream It, Make It, Win It
Representatives of the NASA Prizes and Challenges Program will share how some of their best ideas come from “citizen inventors” and how you can get involved, get innovating, and win prizes!

4. Innovating Diversity and Inclusion in Tech
Presented by the Reverend Jesse Jackson, this session explores and expands on how innovation is served by emphasizing diversity and inclusion in tech fields.

5. Innovation Around the World
This is not one particular session, but rather a noticeable trend during the festival. From Turkey to L.A., from Sweden to Ecuador, if you want to hear about how a certain country or global area is innovating, you can find it here.

Of course, in addition to these great sessions, you won’t want to miss our session on the Global Innovation Competition and best practices for hosting global competitions on Tuesday, March 17 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Click here for more information about that session.

SXSW 2015 Panel: Global Competitions that Change the World

sxsw panelLife these days can sometimes seem hopeless.  Turn on the news and you see negative story after negative story.

However, there is cause for hope. More and more, amidst all of the negativity, we see global citizens coming together to remind us all that the things which bring us together are larger than those which divide us.

Opportunities like the 2nd Annual Global Innovation Competition showcase ideas from those global citizens. The competition is an initiative operating in 8 African and 4 Asian countries specifically to support innovators and entrepreneurs in realizing projects that improve the relationship between citizens and governments.

Once submitted to the competition, ideas are voted upon by members of the communities where they will have an impact, with 75% of votes coming from the global south. and winnowed down to fifty big ideas which advance to the next stage.

The competition has even gone to special lengths to ensure inclusivity, including giving four ideas “wildcards” into the final 50 from countries that are enabled with less information and communications technology. You can read more about this year’s finalists here.

There are many lessons to be learned and best practices to glean from the experiences of the Global Innovation Competition for those who might be interested in hosting their own global competition aimed at changing the world. To that end, we will be discussing those best practices at our SXSW panel on Tuesday, March 17, and would love for you to join us. Click here for more information.

5 Top Questions to Ask When Starting an Innovation Program

planningSo you want to start an open innovation program at your organization or company. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out where to start. As with any new program, there are a number of factors that you should consider before you embark. Today we’ll look at five top questions to think through.

1. What goal are you trying to achieve? First and foremost, consider what you are trying to achieve with your open innovation program. Are you looking for cost-cutting methods? Are you looking to engage your employees? Are you trying to connect with your consumers about their wants and needs? Evaluating your goals at the beginning will make it much easier to evaluate whether you’ve reached those goals at the end.

2. What are the stage-gates for each part of your process? This essentially means determining timelines for the different stages of your program: pre-launch planning, idea collection, idea refinement, idea review, and implementation.

3. Identify your target audience. Who are you hoping to reach? Once you know the answer to this question, you will be much better able to determine how to reach and engage that target audience.

4. How much participation are you expecting? Knowing your target audience and how to reach them is just a first step. Knowing how much participation can help define realistic team member responsibilities for dealing with responses.

5. Evaluate resources and responsibilities for team members. When this is one of your first tasks, it can help set the parameters for several of these other questions, as well as numerous other questions. It can also help you to assess where you might want to reallocate resources in order to accomplish one of your described goals.

These five questions are just some of the top questions and should not be considered an exhaustive list. For more insight into the benefits of open innovation as well as further items to consider before starting out, click here to download the Innovation Starter Kit.

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?

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?

IdeaScale’s Top 5 2014 Features

Top 5 2014Another one bites the dust. Another year, that is. As 2014 draws to a close, we are taking time to celebrate the year’s many accomplishments; among them, five particular features float to the top. These features have made things easier, more efficient, more aesthetic, and more accessible for IdeaScale users.

1.  Moderator Tags
This new feature is incredibly useful. With it, Moderators can define specific criteria or categories to analyze communities based on the tagging data. Separate from publicly visible tags, these tags are only available to community Moderators and Administrators, although you can extend the visibility to a particular community role as well. This allows for sometimes much-needed categorization and analysis that are not necessarily for public use.

2.  ReviewScale
What if the ideas emerging from your campaign or community are not in line with your goals as an organization? This year saw the introduction of a solution to this problem. Administrators can target ideas that best align with the values and aims of an organization with the new decision matrix software from IdeaScale. Groups who have already started using ReviewScale include the Department of Labor, Yale University, and Kaiser Permanente. Find out more and request a demo here.

3.  Community Refresh
Functionality and compatibility are important, but so are aesthetics. Communities within IdeaScale got a facelift this year when the entire design was revamped. New communities have a sleeker interface, presenting a welcoming look immediately upon viewing.

4.  Community Infographic Generator
Infographics are one of the most efficient, impactful ways to convey information. With this new feature, infographics are generated for you by IdeaScale software using information from and statistics about your campaign. These graphics include information about the engagement of your community with the campaign, sharing statistics like number of ideas shared, amount of votes tabulated, and the time of day when folks were most active. Learn how to take advantage of this great feature with this article from IdeaScale support.

5.  CO-STAR
So I’ve got my ideas; now what? CO-STAR can help you. CO-STAR is an acronym that stands for “Customer Opportunity Solution Team Advantage Result.” Boiled down, this feature helps facilitate the stepping beyond the initial idea phase and developing those ideas into valid business models. CO-STAR focuses on developing answers to questions along those six key criteria included in its name. Companies such as the BBC and Johnson&Johnson have already started using the system.

What do you think about these features from 2014? Which features made the most difference for your organization? Which features would you like to see in 2015?

2014 Innovation Award Winners

OIAwards2014The 2014 Open Innovation Awards winners have officially been chosen! This year we had many wonderful entrants, and we are incredibly pleased to announce the winners in each category.

Department of Labor—Best Engagement Strategy
The Department of Labor is the winner of the Best Engagement Strategy for their ePolicyWorks campaign. The campaign aimed to gather insight about the accessibility of social media platforms and employment opportunities for people with disabilities in STEM fields. Click here to find out more about the Department of Labor and the winning campaign.

Department of Energy—Best Moderation Strategy
The Department of Energy is the winner of the Best Moderation Strategy for their Sunshot Initiative. The Initiative is a national collaborative effort to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade. Click here to find out more about the Department of Energy and the winning campaign.

Scentsy—Best Innovation
Scentsy Inc., an Idaho-based candle warmer company, is the winner of the Best Innovation award for their Family IdeaShare campaign. This campaign resulted in, among other things, a suggestion that became the top-selling warmer in Scentsy history. Click here to find out more about Scentsy and their award-winning innovation.

Congratulations to our winners!

Two particular strategies stand out as best practices from which we can all take a lesson: social media engagement and ease of participation. All three of our winners took full advantage of the social media outlets available to them to encourage user contributions. This was especially true with the Department of Labor, whose campaign focused on social media availability for people with disabilities. Additionally, all three made a point of making participation as uncomplicated as possible; involvement is understandably more likely when it is manageable. For example, the Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative included step-by-step screenshots of the process for users.

Winners will receive an Apple iPad Mini, a discount on their 2015 IdeaScale subscription, and a stylized and shareable press packet. They will also have the ability to fast track a feature for 2015 and be able to activate one of the higher-end features free of charge. Congratulations again to our winners!

What might your organization do to be more engaging, have better moderation, and strive for the best innovation?