Since we started Crowdicity a little over six years ago we’ve worked with organisations of all shapes and sizes, across a wide range of sectors around the world, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. In this post, we share what you need to do to drive a successful crowdsourced innovation program. Whether you're running an innovation competition, hackathon, co-creation or open innovation challenge, considering the following points will increase your chances of success.
- Mean it! Set out with the right intentions from the beginning. There’s a difference between asking for ideas to satisfy a commitment that you made to your HR team to engage employees and looking to make positive change by seriously considering those ideas shared by employees to drive innovation.
- Set out the process that you’re going to follow and identify your goals. This way participants know what they’re getting into and are clear on the investment requested of their time and energy, it also allows them to plan and structure when to share and participate around their already hectic lives.
- Select the right crowd. In order to get the best out of your open innovation program, you need to select the participants with the right knowledge and experience to address your questions.
- Frame and ask the right question. Short, concise questions usually get the best responses. A couple of our favourite ones to date of customers using the Crowdicity idea management platform? ‘What do you want for your Olympic legacy?’, asked by Eduardo Paes the mayor of Rio, and ‘how can we reduce the amount of email in our organisation, from Paul Sly, CEO of Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust.
- Get the person with the highest authority to ask the first question (this isn’t always the CEO, but often is). People are often cynical (see point 1), but if they see the leadership of their organisation taking the lead (see point 4), they're more likely to invest their valuable time and energy in participating.
- Do something with the ideas that you receive. David Simoes-Brown,the CEO of 100% Open (one of our innovation partners) sums it up well: ‘Ideas are worthless! There's no Innovation in Open Innovation until you do something with - and achieve value from - ideas that you gather.’
- Provide feedback. Participants need to know that their investment of time and energy is worth it. Even if nothing comes of their contribution, they’d rather know this and receive useful feedback than hear nothing. People need to feel that their input is valued and appreciated and that their ideas aren't disappearing into a vacuum.
- Provide incentives and rewards. We’ve seen our client offer everything from a gift voucher to a $50,000 prize. But these don’t have to monetary. We’ve seen clients provide opportunities for personal or professional development to help follow their idea through or help drive an open innovation community, for instance, but it can be as simple as awarding a badge! People want to appreciation for giving their time and effort.
- Keep going. For crowdsourced innovation to be most effective, you have to maintain momentum after your first success or failure. Creating a culture of innovation depends on driving continuous engagement and participation.