Five Effective No-Budget Incentives to motivate your innovation community

Marie Peach

Marie Peach
Senior Account Manager

Posted by Marie Peach in Tips and Guides on 15 May 2019

In my time at Crowdicity, I’ve seen our clients’ open innovation and co-creation communities either succeed or fall short on the strength of this one question: “what’s in it for me?”

I’m talking incentives, and when you’re asking busy people to drop what they’re doing to participate in your online innovation platform, you have to find the right one.

Make no mistake that you will need to ensure that there’s an incentive to participate in your innovation initiative, even if you work for the most altruistic charity in existence. Here’s the bottom line - your people aren’t selfish, they’re time-poor. However, anyone can find the time to engage if they can see a clear, achievable reason to do so. The knack is identifying what that reason is and give it to them.

We’ve seen incentives come in all shapes and sizes, from a trip to Silicon Valley right through to offering vouchers for hair product. But we’ve also seen many clients succeed with very different motivators. In fact, when presented well, non-monetary incentives can be more effective in generating creativity than those with a financial value attached.

Non-monetary incentives can be even more effective

Anyone who’s seen Dan Pink’s TED Talk, The Puzzle of Motivation will be aware of the theory that non-monetary motivators can work just as well or better than bonuses and prizes offered for performance. This is something we’ve seen time and again at Crowdicity, when well-chosen non-monetary incentives are presented vs prizes that cost you something. If you have accessible, exciting comms around it, your driver can be something that costs nothing and benefits the organisation.

In his talk, Dan Pink discusses experiments that showed that monetary prizes can actually kill creativity. He says:

The secret to high performance isn't rewards and punishments, but that unseen intrinsic drive-- the drive to do things for their own sake. The drive to do things because they matter.”

Power the “unseen intrinsic drive”

Take a moment to think about what drives your community to participate. Then go further. Ask yourself - what drives you to perform? Is it money, recognition, or something else? An opportunity to make change happen, perhaps? When you find the answers to these questions you might find the results are more creative and even better than you expect. How you can inspire your people to ‘do things because they matter’?

Here are my suggestions for five non-monetary incentives that will drive your community’s engagement:

1. Project Involvement

This one is win-win! The contributor of the top selected idea is drafted into, or asked to run, the project team to drive forward their winning idea. This allows them to raise their profile, ensures they can move forward with the project and visibly encourages a culture of innovation permission. Any cost is limited to project funding.

2. Recognition as reward

This could be in the form of company recognition through an existing initiative or process, or it could be simply by communicating this via your idea management platform. Either way a bit of recognition goes a long way. You could ask winners to write a guest blog about what inspired the idea (plus how they feel about winning), share updates on the idea progress and/or mention them in your innovation community updates or company newsletter. This type of open feedback can be a great motivator for other platform members to post their own ideas.

Decide on the type of recognition you’ll offer and post it up as the incentive right from the start!

3. Competition – Team goals (for a competitive culture)

This one requires a gamified approach. Split your community into competing teams to encourage competition. Then automatically give points for posting ideas, commenting and voting, and even more if their idea receives a positive status label (all enabled by the Crowdicity platform). Points that individuals earn can add up to a group total, which may lead to a group reward, or simply a team win!

This kind of competition often does not need a prize because the kudos of the team winning can be incentive enough. Shout about the winners and then repeat it next time. Several of our clients do exactly this with great success.

4. Platform/innovation involvement

Lots of community managers are running their innovation initiative alongside their day jobs. That means every bit of help is welcome, so get creative and build your team. Why not generate a group of ambassadors or innovation champions made up from selected challenge winners?

You could delegate tasks like guest blogs, marketing or even community moderation based on expertise. Tap into whatever skills they have that might help you with the day-to-day management of your innovation community and watch engagement flourish! Collaboration in action.

5. Opportunity to pitch to a director

Depending on the type of challenge you’re running, a fantastic incentive could be the opportunity to sit down with a senior manager and pitch your idea to them in person. This is especially appealing if the contributors are expected to run their own projects, and are competing for funding or support from the senior management team. This gives staff a chance to impress and become real changemakers and drivers of their own ideas.

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