The Innovation Station with Kati Stutsman of Catamaran

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 9:29 AM, November 19, 2014


At Birds of a Feather 2014, Brightidea discussed innovation management with Kati Stutsman, Business Analyst with Catamaran. Kati believes that communication is not only one of the most challenging elements of running a successful innovation program, but it's also one of the most rewarding pieces of the process for both the innovation team and the employees. The program leverages social communication tools as well as lots of video to trigger energy and excitement within employees for their program.

Catamaran runs the Innovation Station, their corporate innovation program using the Brightidea platform. The objective of their program is to crowdsource ideas from employees across the organization and manage those ideas in the way that's most effective. Catamaran operates their program from a relatively small dedicated team, like many innovation teams today, which includes a Director of Innovation Strategy responsible for ensuring that the team is focused on the right initiatives, and an Innovation Program Manager responsible for ensuring the Challenges are run on a timely basis. Collectively, the team focuses on ensuring that they're building relationships across the organization with key stakeholders.

Kati's team has quickly found that participation ultimately comes down to communication. Not only how they communicate to employees and to the executive teams -- and this can include anything from new Challenges and opportunities to recognition, metrics and more -- but then turning this into a two-way conversation, such that employees feel comfortable and safe innovating within the company. One of the big initiatives that The Innovation Station is focused on right now is recognition at the corporate level, integrating with HR recognition programs and ensuring that when people bring good ideas to the table, they're recognized. Innovation doesn't happen just within an innovation department, it happens companywide on the smallest level to the highest level.

Communication is not only one of the most challenging, but most rewarding pieces of the process. Not only for their innovation program management team, but also for the employees. The Catamaran team is finding that social media features within Brightidea as well as video are effective tools for communicating with employees. Kati finds that video pushes the energy and excitement for employees, and that they leverage the medium to drive inspiration and engagement to make something actionable.

Like many innovation teams, Catamaran's innovation team is a small group of less than five members. As a small team, they're starting with achieving quick wins. Kati notes that once you get the quick wins under your belt, the innovation team builds credibility in the organization, sustainability, and the ability to replicate and be actionable moving forward. The Innovation Station will continue to focus on turning quick wins into larger objectives and bigger results.

Stay tuned for more insightful innovation presentations from Birds of a Feather 2014.

Julianna Benedick of Panasonic Discusses Their Innovation Program, SPARKZ

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 8:33 AM, August 12, 2014


Brightidea took some time at Birds of a Feather to speak with Julianna Benedick, Director of Marketing for Panasonic, about the structure and breadth of Panasonic’s Brightidea-powered innovation program.

Julianna feels strongly that innovation functions best as a democratic process, and that mantra was employed right down to their program’s name, SPARKZ. The program relied on input from all levels of their organization to build a brand identity, starting with the name, color scheme, and communications platform.

SPARKZ is centralized in the operations arm of Panasonic’s marketing department, but they are working to expand collaborative innovation to other departments, so they play a role in managing the process. Heavily involving other departments furthers Julianna’s goal of creating a democratic innovation program that spans the entire organization, even seeking input from their ace sales force, the Shark Team.

In addition to drawing on the collective knowledge of the organization, SPARKZ is also designed to serve the entire company, facilitating innovation in all departments, from marketing to supply-chain.

They have seen that, using this wide-reaching approach, small teams of only a few people can achieve greater innovation by creating departmental challenges and leveraging the fresh views of others.

To achieve their desired results, Julianna has learned from experience that it is critical to have iron-clad back-end processes in place to handle ideation and leverage the knowledge of the entire organization, with persons in various departments having ownership of individual pieces.

Watch the full video and hear what Julianna has to say on running innovation at Panasonic.

Stay tuned for more great Birds of a Feather 2014 presentations and insights.

Nielsen Case Study on Achieving Innovation Program Success

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 11:52 AM, July 29, 2014


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Nielsen is the definitive brand in worldwide market intelligence and consumer media viewership information. As new media technologies developed quickly in the second decade of the new millennium, Nielsen faced the challenge of an increasingly complex innovation program and the inability to effectively manage its ideas. Their innovation program desperately needed some innovation. They sought a better way to track and visualize their innovation program in visible and accessible metrics, and increase employee participation.

Nielsen enlisted the help of Brightidea to develop a dynamic and autonomous, yet still intuitive, platform for idea management. They wanted a system that was so simple that users from any background and skillset could operate it without prior training. In restructuring its innovation process, Nielsen created one dedicated group for the entire company, with three program managers who provided each business unit with a roadmap of optimized innovation guidelines and direction. Brightidea implemented a WebStorm building platform for Nielsen, on which employees and customers are encouraged to submit ideas on specified topics and objectives, or “Challenges.” Managers evaluate submissions and drive participation by hosting 10-15 incentive Challenges at any given time. Employees and customers are reassured that their voice is being heard with regular updates to the status of their Challenge.

Over time, Nielsen has achieved widespread adoption of the program, churning out over 500 highly qualified idea submissions per quarter. Product development Challenges have already produced multiple ideas that are in the incubation or proof of concept stages. The “Cycle Time” Challenge was particularly effective at reducing development hours, thereby reducing costs and increasing revenue. In 2013, the “Cycle Time” Challenge saved Nielsen over four million employee hours, across all teams.

Looking forward, Nielsen plans to further restructure their innovation program to focus on critical business areas, including revenue, measurable quality enhancements, productivity and long-term sustainability.

For the complete case study download here: Nielsen case study.

Brightidea Talks with Jeff Ferreira-Pro of VSP Global’s Innovation Laboratory

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 8:53 AM, July 15, 2014


Jeff Ferreira-Pro serves as Idea Curator at leading eye and vision care provider VSP Global’s innovation lab, The SHOP. We caught up with Jeff recently at Brightidea’s annual Birds of a Feather Innovation Leaders meeting, held in June 2014 at Quicken Loans, and discussed his experiences in crafting an innovation program at VSP and how Brightidea has continued to help his organization.

In the months just prior to the 2013 Birds of a Feather meeting, Jeff’s team was just getting started deploying their Brightidea-powered innovation program, Idea Bank. At the 2013 event, the team was overwhelmed with different ideas and strategies from other leading organizations with more mature innovation programs. They took their insights home from the meeting and integrated them to their Idea Bank with Brightidea.

Over the course of the past year, through trial and error, Jeff and his team zeroed-in on a sustainable innovation strategy for VSP and re-launched their Idea Bank. They developed a top down, middle out, bottom up structure that stimulates innovation at all levels of the company and struck a chord with its employees.

Jeff’s team planned their Idea Bank to collect the deluge of great ideas that are generated in such a diverse company. VSP Global is a dynamically changing organization that houses insurance, healthcare, software, manufacturing and fashion branches. With such diversity of contributors, they needed a robust innovation program and created Idea Bank to manage all of the ideas. Jeff enables VSP to redefine the industry with their ideas, rather than let them slip through the cracks and watch someone else do it.

The SHOP has found Brightidea to be invaluable for crowdsourcing innovation across their vast network. Because of the diverse nature of VSP Global, with insurance, fashion and vision components, the Idea Bank serves as a cross-organizational tool to facilitate innovation among their intertwined businesses. Each element of their business structure has ripple effects on the others, which must be taken into account when innovating and growing.

VSP employees have an average tenure of almost ten years, creating the challenge of combating complacency and the assumption that the status quo will always remain. Aware of this tendency, Jeff is vigilant to keep abreast of changes in the industry and listens to customer needs to make sure that VSP doesn’t get surpassed by a startup that’s doing something novel. Customers often don’t know what they want until it is shown to them, which keeps Jeff and his team on their toes, always looking to the future and trying new directions in innovation.

Stay tuned to the Brightidea blog for more insights from the 2014 Birds of a Feather Innovation Leaders meeting.

Genevieve Wang Joins Brightidea as Senior Director of Product Management

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 10:40 AM, April 11, 2014


Just like our platform, the Brightidea product team continues to grow. Recently, Genevieve Wang joined the company as Senior Director of Product Management. Here’s a little more about Genevieve in her own words:

What were you doing before you joined Brightidea?
Early in my career, I learned that I love to build products, and that’s what I’ve spent the past 10 years doing. Most recently, I headed up the product team at the digital health SaaS company, Zipongo, where we built a personalized healthy eating platform for users, across web and mobile. Previously, as a design strategist at the innovation consultancy, Continuum, I applied design thinking principles to uncover user insights and drive product strategy for clients across industries - including pharma, consumer products, automotive, and hospitality. One of my most rewarding projects was for a home appliance company where we developed a product strategy that redefined air quality for users.

What does innovation mean to you?
Innovation can certainly mean new ways to make things smaller, faster, and cheaper. Yet, the innovation that excites me most is coming up with new products and processes that totally disrupt the ways that things have been done for years. These can be solutions to everyday problems that now seem obvious in retrospect. That’s what Zappo’s has done for the shoe buying experience. That’s what the Kong toy has done for dogs and dog owners. That’s what Brightidea is doing to help customers realize the value in crowdsourced innovation, too.

What gets you excited about working for Brightidea?
Having worked at a variety of different companies, I truly believe that just about any organization I’ve worked with would benefit from a crowdsourced innovation program to engage employees and unlock the value in their ideas. It is highly meaningful to me to be working for a company with tremendous ability to make large-scale impact.

Also, the people at Brightidea are incredible, and I am thrilled to be a part of this team. The culture is one of mutual respect, and the fearless “can do” attitude results in a determination to achieve just about anything that we believe is right for the product. Working in this fast-paced, positive environment motivates me to be the best that I can be.

What new innovation are you most excited about?
I am excited about any innovation that helps me save time. I have become a heavy user of delivery services like Google Shopping Express. For every 20 minutes that one of these services saves me, that’s extra time that I can spend on a much higher value activity, like a phone call to check in with my family in Boston.

I am also pretty excited about Brightidea’s new Mobile 5. You'll be hearing more about Mobile 5 in the coming weeks.

What do you do for fun?
My husband and I rescued a dog, Bentley, a few months ago, and we are having a blast welcoming him into our family. He gives us a fantastic excuse to explore the San Francisco outdoors - from Golden Gate Park to Twin Peaks to Ocean Beach.

Genevieve-Wang

Interview with Motorola Solutions Director of Innovation Development

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 10:27 AM, March 07, 2014



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In a recent interview with Chicago Tribune's innovation and entrepreneurship blog, Blue Sky, Motorola Solutions Director of Innovation Development Heidi Hattendorf discusses the framework and responsibilities of its innovation team that ultimately drive the success of their program.

The group consists of innovators and "innovation champions" operating within an incubator environment for crowdsourcing new ideas across multiple business units within the organization. To recruit innovation champions into the program, Heidi's team looks for natural, entrepreneurial leaders within the organization. It's a much sought-after position that also comes with the responsibility for delivering on KPIs within their business unit. In this model, the champion stands behind their idea and brings it to the next level.

Leveraging our Brightidea platform, Motorola Solutions' innovation team works closely with sponsors to design challenges for their business units, and then crowdsources ideas across a global team within Idea Space, delivers actionable opportunities, and ultimately builds a culture centered around collaborative innovation. Heidi's model for structuring the innovation team and integrating the Brightidea platform within the organization has had a substantial impact on the culture as well as measurable outcomes for the business units. For example, one of the outcomes from the program was the development of a head mounted computer, the HC1, which allows a field worker to be hands-free and more productive.

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As they have for the past two years, Heidi's team will continue to operate its highly successful innovations program leveraging both people and platform technology, building on a culture of innovation and delivering on better, new technologies in the data communications and telecommunications field.

Read the original Chicago Tribune article.

There's a Better Way to Manage WebStorm Requests

Posted by Steve Bell at 10:44 AM, February 05, 2014


When the word gets out how effective your ISS team is at driving innovation results across your organization, the business units will start lining up for your services. While popularity is a good problem to have, keeping track of all those innovation challenge requests can get unwieldy fast without the right tools. Our WebStorm Request Management feature helps you streamline the process of handling submissions, tracking and managing WebStorm requests so you stay on top of things and let nothing slip through the cracks.

Here’s how it works:

A new WebStorm Request Widget streamlines the request process. An administrator can easily place the widget on any WebStorm or Enterprise pages without technical assistance.

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After clicking on the “Request a WebStorm” button, the requester is directed to a new WebStorm Request form that collects all the pertinent information needed to create and schedule a new WebStorm – things like the topic, dates, sponsor, and target audience.

WebStorm-Request-Form

All actions are automatically captured and communicated through notifications and email.

A new management page makes it easy for system administrators to monitor, review and respond to WebStorm requests. From this interface, administrators can also create the new WebStorm.

WebStorm-Request-Management

After a new WebStorm is created from the WebStorm request, the requester automatically receives an email message with a URL to navigate to their new WebStorm.

We have received extremely positive feedback since rolling out the new WebStorm Request feature. If you have not enabled this beta feature yet for your program, we encourage you to do so and enjoy its benefits!

The Top 5 Most Important Articles On Innovation in the Past Year

Posted by Jesse Leone at 9:00 AM, January 29, 2014


With the passing of another year, I’m reminded of British novelist Leslie Hartley who once said, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” Looking forward to new beginnings in 2014, I believe it’s important to reflect on our forthcoming journey and what the future has in store.

Having worked with more than 100 innovation programs around the world, I’ve developed a habit of tracking trends that shape the global innovation landscape. Because this year was filled with such amazing content, I’d like to share what I consider to be the top five most important articles on innovation in the past year.

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#5 On Innovation and Disruption
“The common perception that disruptive innovations are occurring more frequently is based on something real.”

Jason Pontin, editor in chief of MIT Technology Review, riffs on the increasing pace of disruptive innovation throughout recent history, driving toward a list of the top 50 most disruptive companies according to the very reputable folks at MIT.

#4 How Corruption Is Strangling US Innovation
This presentation from Harvard Business Review masterfully summarizes the challenges faced when corporatism and politics cross paths. The same system that has fueled the engine of human development for centuries is quickly becoming the largest inhibitor of innovation in the United States.

#3 What’s the Roadmap for Innovation in China 
This article from Fast Company reflects on the state of innovation in China. Though the country has struggled to keep up with the pace of US and European innovation, China’s rich history of invention and its rapidly modernizing economy are positioning Chinese companies to become world leaders in innovation over the next century.

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#2 Taking the Measure of Your Innovation Performance
Several authors at Bain and Company illustrate what it takes to drive successful innovation inside your company. Through some really compelling research and examples, this article was a must read for anyone breaking into the innovation space in 2013.

#1 How To Really Measure a Company's Innovation Prowess
Despite strong examples like Google and Apple, those of us who study innovation understand that most companies are still coming to terms with their utter lack of innovation prowess. Scott Anthony, managing partner of the innovation consulting firm Innosight, writes a very insightful article noting some breakthrough methods for measuring innovation within your company. This article is truly geared for the innovation Jedis out there.

Jesse Leone is an Innovation Consultant in Brightidea’s Professional Services Team. His work includes management consulting with some of the largest innovation programs around the world, including General Electric, Motorola, Sony, and SAP. In his personal life, Jesse enjoys pursuing the creation of art, music, and technology.

Building an Innovation Management Office with Brightidea - Webinar, January 23

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 11:57 AM, January 22, 2014


A corporate Innovation Management Office (IMO) is responsible for setting up a formal Innovation-as-a-Shared Service (ISS) internally within their organization. We've brought together a panel of innovation management experts to share stories and insights during a live webinar session on how global leaders like LAN Airlines, CPMC, ELEMENTIA, and SAG have built their IMO. Join us to learn best practices on developing your own IMO. Additionally, all webinar attendees will receive a FREE IMO Toolkit to assist you in putting together your own innovation strategy.

Watch a recording of the webinar on the Brightidea Vimeo channel.

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Our panel of innovation management experts includes Transforme USA Founder and Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez Professor of the Innovation Master´s Degree Program Guillermo A. Beuchat,Transforme USA Innovation Expert Timothy J. Rowe, and Brightidea Director Paul Tran.

In this webinar you will learn how to: 

  • Structure an Innovation Process
  • Focus on Measureable Outcomes
  • Engage and Sustain User Participation Over Time
  • Define Your Innovation Key Metrics

Watch a recording of the webinar on "How to Build an IMO: Innovation Management Office Using Brightidea".

Webcast on Erasing the “Fuzzy” from The Front End of Innovation

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 2:32 PM, December 30, 2013


Recently, Brightidea Senior Innovation Consultant Kristen Jordan Fotter joined Carrie Nauyalis, New Product Development Solution Evangelist of Planview, to share how companies can take their innovation program to the next level by leveraging best practices during the front end phase of the innovation process.

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You can view the webcast in full here: gotomeeting.com

Additionally, here is an overview of the 8 key areas of the front end of innovation highlighted in the webcast:

Identify the Problem and the Opportunity
From the very beginning, it's important to set the precedent for the key challenge you're going to set out to solve among employees, colleagues, and subject matter experts. Rather than creating a general bucket to collect ideas, you can provide direction and a goal for your participants by creating multiple challenges to solve - for example, cutting costs in production, going green and more.

Engagement: Enticing Participants with Incentives
To bring the desired participants to the table, you'll need to develop an engagement plan to attract and draw in people. As you're developing your engagement plan, you'll need to understand the key aspects of your audience. Where are they located around the globe, and in what time zones? What are the demographics of your desired participants? What positions do they hold within the company?

Engagement: Attracting Participants with Marketing
If you build it, they will come...well actually, just creating an innovation campaign on its own won't necessarily draw in participants automatically. You'll need to uncover key motivators for engaging people to participate. This may include positive feedback from their direct manager, attention from leadership, opportunity to lead a team, and more. And, have some fun with it! We encourage you to engage campaign sponsors, idea submitters, idea evaluators and those supporting the process for ideas on how to engage participants.

Idea Generation, Collection and Collaboration
Brilliant innovations come from collaboration and the merging of ideas. The science behind innovation is creating the environment and bring the right audiences together to develop and cultivate those ideas. The right tools will offer an environment, a digital space where people from all over the world can come together to share, collaborate, talk to each other and develop innovations that will solve those key challenges.

Idea Evaluation: SME Scorecarding
During the front end of innovation, you'll be collecting thousands of ideas for a campaign with the objective of narrowing these ideas down to around 100, and you'll work with subject matter experts during this process. It's important to have multiple campaigns around a specific problem, so that you can compare responses and vet the ideas to become more streamlined. In the scorecarding process, you'll answer a lot of questions, such as patent availability and potential costs.

Establishing a Workflow
Ultimately, no one standard workflow will apply to every campaign you run as every topic, every participating audience is unique. We suggest taking a look at the topic and who is behind the generation of ideas, and build the workflow from here. After you've identified the workflow, make sure that you have also estimated the budget based on ideas to implement as this will also set a precedent with stakeholders.

Measuring ROI
You have to be able to measure the performance of your innovation campaign. Start with the end in mind, talk about what you want to achieve with each campaign, and what you want that outcome to be to define your ROI. Is it cost savings? Employee satisfaction? Time savings? For example, one of our customers, a global telecom company, was able to measure cost savings and new revenue generated in excess of $150 million during lifetime of their innovation program. Whether you're looking for new revenue or improvements on loyalty and retention, develop your plan with how you'll measure ROI and you're one step closer to getting your challenge off the ground. 

For more insights on the front end of innovation, please feel free to contact Brightidea anytime with questions and stay tuned for more webcasts.

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