All organisations face one or more challenges they need to tackle. Some have decreasing markets due to the crisis and need to cut costs, while others are looking for other ways to serve existing or new customers. Your organisation is probably also facing a number of challenges. To gather possible solutions for your challenges, crowdsourcing is a relatively new and open innovation mechanism which is well suited for the job. Using social media you can tap into the collective brainpower of your employees, and trust me, your employees have a lot of tacit knowledge which they are happy to share. But how will they share their valuable knowledge with you? You probably already have one or more tools to connect your employees. Could you utilize those?
Many organisations have modern communication tools such as Yammer to connect their employees and allow them to share docs, links and knowledge. A number of these organisations are using such tools for ideation to tackle their challenges. There are, however, many reasons why you are better of using dedicated ideation software over a non-dedicated tool.
Don’t use scissors to mow your lawn
By definition, when a tool which is designed for one purpose is used for another purpose, you will most definitely get sub-optimal results from your efforts.
Don’t get me wrong, Yammer is a great communication- and networking tool to connect employees. We use it ourselves to keep in touch, share docs, websites and quickly ask questions to another and we love it. It is however, not a tool designed for the support, collection and enrichment of ideas for innovation and therefore lacks almost all of the functionality to support the entire process of ideation. You’d best use a lawnmower to mow your lawn and you’d best use dedicated ideation software to do an Idea Challenge.
It’s not just about collecting ideas
The process of crowdsourcing as we implement it at our customers, is not simply about collecting ideas from their target group or crowd. Collecting the ideas from the crowd is just a small part. There is however much more to the initiative that cannot be seen but which is very important in order to make a difference between the initiative’s failure or success. Felix Baumgartner did not just need a balloon to jump from 39 Km high to earth. It took five years of preparation and a huge supporting team to do it successfully. Dedicated ideation software can provide your supporting team to do your 39 Km leap to online ideation success.
Key elements to success
There are many elements that should be covered when starting an Idea Challenge. The extent to which these elements are covered determine the success of the initiative. Important factors for doing an Idea Challenge in your organisation are listed in the table below. More elaborate information about these and other elements such as a communication plan can be read in my other blog ‘You get what you give’. The table also shows which of these elements are supported by dedicated ideation software and which of these elements are covered by a Yammer-like communication tool.
As can be seen in the table, Yammer-like tools only support one of the elements needed for successful Idea Challenges. On a dedicated ideation tool you will have prominent places to share the much needed information in order to guide the crowd in their ideation. Dedicated ideation tools have the possibility to add a prominently visible video in which senior management and/or the sponsor endorses the importance of the initiative or describe what the ideation process will look like. Proper ideation tools allow for the Challenge team to support the process by e.g. getting a good overview of the contributions and functionality to manage the crowd. A clear overview of all the contributions and participants enables idea evaluation, rating and to give the ideas their much needed follow up.
Idea Challenges need ideation software
Good dedicated ideation software enables all of the key success factors to be supported and to be continuously visible among the crowd. Since these elements truly determine the successful outcome of your Idea Challenge, you are better off using dedicated software than misusing a great tool such as Yammer for this purpose.
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Jan Martijn Everts is Innovation Consultant @ Innovation Factory in the Netherlands. Jan Martijn has worked on a variety of projects, ranging from Heineken’s annual idea contests to PostNL’s ongoing innovation programme. Due to his uncommon background of both Engineering Physics and Business Administration he has great association skills, is creative and can give any challenge a creative twist.