Tag Archives: open innovation

Introducing…CauseTech!

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.

CauseTech.net 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:

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Why to Buy an Open Innovation Platform

cirtixAre you considering utilizing an open innovation platform within your organization? Are you planning to build that platform yourself?

Well, you might want to reconsider whether the decision to build your platform is the best one for you. A recent IdeaScale case study focused on Citrix, a multinational software company, which has had a company mandate in place since 2001 to gather internal and external new ideas.

After outgrowing the previous model of feedback via email, Citrix decided it made the most sense to implement an open innovation platform. Like many other organizations, Citrix had it in mind to build and use their own platform. It makes sense, right? They’re already a software company, and they surely have all of the skills needed in order to create something of that nature.

However, Citrix quickly realized that their company-built platform was not as feasible as they imagined; most notably, the costs of maintaining the system were much higher than anticipated. But Citrix was in luck, because they found IdeaScale and never looked back.

In addition to the cost-considerations, there are five other big reasons that it might make more sense to buy—rather than build—your open innovation platform:

1. Less time to market implementation.
2. IdeaScale provides the experts for troubleshooting and maintenance.
3. Greater agility to customize, and less time to do so.
4. Increased ability to scale up or down as needed.
5. Higher probability of polished and aesthetic end product.

What more do you need to convince you? You can read more about Citrix and their experience with IdeaScale in this recent case study.

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.

How Mageneti Marelli Used Open Innovation to Find the Competitive Edge

magneti marelliWhat can happen when you invite open, global innovation into your organization? International company Magneti Marelli found out when they partnered with Open Knowledge to create their Laptime Club.

Magneti Marelli was founded in Italy in 1919. It is committed to the design and production of hi-tech systems and components for the automotive industry.  As an organization, the group’s presence stretches across 19 countries, and is a supplier for the most important car makers in Europe, North and South America, and Asia.

Structured to be a community for motorsport engineers and experts, but also for technology and electronics enthusiasts, the Laptime Club was designed specifically to stimulate creativity and innovation in racing. It was open to the entire global community, and 85% of the ideas that Magneti Marelli ended up receiving were from sources external to their company.

As a result of the group’s large-scale invitation, they received nearly 100 ideas across 6 months of innovation. From these, twenty ideas rose to the surface as idea finalists, and then were further winnowed to two winning ideas to be considered for development.

Two of the most powerful strategies that Magneti Marelli used during the innovation period were their social media outreach and their regular innovation team meetings. The group used the entire digital toolkit in order to promote the innovation community, including blogging, email announcements, and campaigns on social media platforms like Facebook and Google. This allowed them to do the absolute most digital promotion possible. Magneti Marelli also utilized regular innovation team meetings, gathering once a month to look at and respond to new ideas, including reaching out to idea authors for more details about their ideas. Imagine how encouraging it would be as an idea author to not have to wait until the end of the six-month to hear anything about your idea. It likely made idea authors more apt to want to contribute in the future, even if their first ideas were not implemented.

Read more about Magneti Marelli and the Laptime Club in this recent case study.

Help NASA Save the World from Asteroids

nasaOne of the many awesome things to come out of South by Southwest a couple of weeks ago was NASA’s release of a new app, Asteroid Data Tracker, which allows the average citizen to crowdsource the presence of asteroids. Well, the average citizen with a telescope and the asteroid tracker desktop software.

The app and software were created during a crowdsourced competition produced by NASA and asteroid mining company Planetary Resources, the goal of which was to surface a better asteroid tracking algorithm. With this new software, users will be able to take images from their telescopes and use the algorithm to determine whether or not the bodies present in those images are asteroids.

According to NASA, this new algorithm is able to identify asteroids with a 15 percent higher rate than previous algorithms. The reported asteroids that are surfaced by common folks are useful for both NASA and Planetary Resources. NASA tries to keep an eye on all near-earth asteroids, hopefully to avoid any Armageddon-type situations, as well as considering candidates for potential asteroid missions. Their partner, Planetary Resources, would be interested in that as well, since it’s much easier to mine an asteroid if you can get to it.

Click here for more information about Asteroid Data Tracker, and to download.

What other kind of agencies might benefit from engaging in crowdsourcing of this nature?

What’s an Employee’s Role in Innovation?

employee role in innovationLet’s say you are an employer who is looking to encourage innovation of ideas among your employees. What would you imagine would be the result of rejecting some employee ideas?

Well, probably not what you might think. Recent research has shown that when an employee’s idea is rejected by their organization, it actually can drive innovation by motivating them to come back with new ideas.

Although this outcome is the result of a delicate balance; after all, nobody is going to be interested in trying something again at which they’ve not been successful if they feel ridiculed or belittled for trying the first time. Perhaps the most important step is an overarching one: organizations should cultivate a climate that is inviting, safe, and positive for employee innovators. It’s important for employees to know that the result of their idea has no impact on their job, furthering the feeling of a safe environment. For more tactics on crafting an environment of innovation, read our recent white paper on the importance of employee innovation.

Once the right mood has been set for innovation, it will be much easier to encourage employees to participate in the sharing of ideas, even if their initial suggestions are not enacted. The research showed that those whose ideas were rejected tended to persist in an effort to determine the causes of their rejection. This is another place where the organization can step in and assist—examining with employees ideas which were successful, and how those employees might attain that level with their own ideas in the future. Helping to provide the proper support and motivation can make all the difference.

Along these lines, it’s important for organizations to think more about how they will reject ideas. It is essential to respond to ALL ideas. Nobody likes to live in that limbo of not knowing, so even if ideas are not pushed forward, it is best practice to inform everyone of the status of their ideas. It is also imperative to celebrate the effort that employees have made, even if their ideas are not enacted; employees are far more likely to try again if they feel that their first attempts are appreciated. For more tips on how to respond to ideas, watch our Creating a Culture of Innovation webinar.

What are other strategies you can think of to encourage your employees to continue innovating, even if their ideas are not initially accepted for enactment?

Best Innovation Hour

innovationhourInnovation can happen at any time of day. At any moment, inspiration may strike.

We at IdeaScale have found that the greatest number of new ideas are submitted around 11 a.m. PST, a.k.a. the Innovation Hour. In considering why this might be the best hour for innovation, we surfaced a few possibilities.

To begin with, many IdeaScale users operate in the Pacific Time zone because Silicon Valley is in the Pacific Time zone and as a whole, companies in Silicon Valley make a point of embracing and fostering open innovation; thus, folks working for those companies who would be engaged in innovating are able and supported to participate in that way during their work hours, and we are more likely to see them sharing new ideas during Innovation Hour.

Beyond that, for both Pacific and Eastern Time zones—the latter for which the local time would be 2 p.m. during Innovation Hour—it is a common time to break up the bigger tasks of a work day with smaller, less strenuous tasks. Like, for example, engaging in an innovation community. For West Coast people, 11 a.m. is generally about when the opening responsibilities of a day are taken care of, and a moment can be taken to contribute a new idea that has been ruminating. For East Coast people, 2 p.m. is an hour or two after lunch time, and allows for a great break from that after-lunch project. Knowing that these are great break times for both West and East Coasters, we can understand why there would be greater influx of ideas during those break times.

Along with that idea of a natural break in the work day, there is the fact that the best ideas don’t happen at work. Research shows that only 3% of ideas occur to people during work hours; the other 97% arise during what might be considered “down” times for your brain: during showers, while working out, on vacation, or doing nothing. These breaks not only provide mini moments of brain down times to get some ideas percolating, but also allow a perfect chance to upload an idea surfaced during a previous down time.

Why do you think 11 a.m. PST is the Innovation Hour? What do you find to be your best time for new ideas?