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.

Introducing The SHOP – Innovating From the Inside Out with Jeff Ferreira-Pro of VSP Global

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 9:39 AM, September 12, 2014


Jeff Ferreira-Pro, Idea Curator at one-stop vision shop VSP Global’s innovation lab, The SHOP, addressed our audience at Birds of a Feather 2014, and we’ve made the video available for you to watch, here.

VSP Global is much more than an insurance and healthcare company that offers vision care to 64 million Americans. They also manufactured 3 million pairs of glasses last year, developed management software for optometrists, and launched a fashion company making stylish eyewear.

Jeff’s group launched The SHOP last year as a VSP-owned startup with the independence to pursue what the eyewear and vision care industry will look like in the next 10-15 years.

VSP’s units are divided into discrete silos, like 5 different companies, that Jeff and The SHOP are working to bring together for crowdsourcing innovation, using Brightidea. They began seeking areas of opportunity for disrupting the retail eyewear industry in the age of online shopping.

The SHOP believes wearable technology is the wave of the future and VSP is producing Diane Furstenberg prescription glasses with Google Glass. Their partnership with Google Glass spawned a tenfold increase in visits on their employment website, displaying the value of marketing and partnering with strong brands.

Alternative manufacturing is another area where they see great potential, embracing 3D printing and dynamic manufacturing to meet unpredictable demand. New technology such as mobile retinal scans and mobile prescriptions, might be seen as threats to VSP’s traditional business model, but The SHOP is working to embrace these new technologies and capitalize on them.

Their innovation program employs a cross-organizational team, with ideas divided into disruptive ideas, challenging ideas, and straightforward ideas. The straightforward ideas come organically, without the need for The SHOP. For the others, The SHOP employs a top down, bottom up, middle out structure that draws on resources from all departments, at all levels of the company to inspire innovation. They have seen positive response from including groups not traditionally associated with innovation, such as finance.

They facilitated eyewear manufacturing by having each unique prescription pair of glasses tagged with a smartphone-activated LED, so that each can be easily located on the assembly line, reducing costs by eliminating the need for five full-time “finders.” This innovation doesn’t just come from The SHOP. By sourcing ideas from across the organization, such as from these “finders,” they are able to get innovation from those working in the trenches.

These steps have created a thriving innovation program at VSP Global. What’s up next for The SHOP? Implementing a program to track and record their successes and failures to learn from their past mistakes. They are also defining new metrics to track disruptive ideas, which don’t lend themselves well to traditional metrics.

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.

Jacqueline Krain of Pearson Global Talks Innovation Management with Brightidea

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 9:17 AM, July 23, 2014


We sat down with Jacqueline Krain, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Pearson Global, for a few insightful minutes at this year’s Birds of a Feather event at Quicken Loans and discussed her experiences with Brightidea and innovation management.

Pearson Global first established their IDEA innovation program four years ago to gestate the full life-cycle progression of an idea from seed to fruit. Their task was to develop an innovation program for global clinical assessment, throughout their twelve intercontinental presences. The program had to manage innovation of their core intellectual property across their varied learning-product lines and services.

Paving the way for their innovation overhaul, Pearson underwent a restructuring last year, which included establishing the role of Vice President of New Business and Innovation, overseeing both a business incubator and innovation strategy. With efficacy the ultimate concern, Jacqueline and her innovation team established a critical framework of dimensions and attributes, which they integrated with the scorecarding and proposal features of Brightidea.

Initially, Pearson had previously depended on many discrete silos. After the restructuring, people from different silos did not know how to work together in the new environment. Fortunately, Brightidea facilitated collaboration in the new organization by connecting disparate functions within the company and different geographies for idea sharing on different calls-to-action.

Amongst many of the other benefits of using an innovation management solution, Jacqueline and stakeholders recognize that Brightidea has helped Pearson immensely with scaling of their program across the organization.

What does the future hold for Pearson’s IDEA program? Down the road, Jacqueline foresees that Brightidea’s scorecarding feature will help bridge the gap between qualitative and quantitative data. She also expressed an interest in employing the capability maturity and innovation maturity models discussed by Cisco at Birds of a Feather this year, and intends to integrate Kaizen and Six Sigma strategies with their innovation process.

After four years with Brightidea software in place, Jacqueline concludes that creativity, art and science are the core of innovation and in order to effectively manage ideation, you must have the appropriate discipline and structure in place.

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

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.

Birds of a Feather 2014 at Quicken in Detroit - Presentation Highlights from Innovation Leaders

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 9:20 AM, June 19, 2014


Recently, we held our 7th annual Birds of a Feather event in Detroit to engage innovation leaders with the latest practices, principals, challenges and opportunities within our industry. Our gracious hosts at Quicken Loans provided an inside look at how the city of Detroit is currently evolving as we toured and congregated in several beautiful, modern buildings throughout the town.

We kicked off this year's event with evening tours of innovative companies in the Detroit metro area, including Shinola watch and bicycle manufacturing facilities, and DIME (Detroit Institute of Music Education) where BOF attendees were treated to live music performances by students. View photos of each event here.

The next day focused on presentations and insights from industry leaders including Quicken Loans, Nielsen, VSP Global, Cabot Corporation, Bizdom, Fathead and Brightidea. Additionally, we held a segment on "BOF Shared Key Learnings" with 5-minute presentations on lessons learned in managing innovation from Nielsen, SAP, Kaiser Permanente, VSP Global, Cisco, Farm Credit Services of America, ACT, Inc., Panasonic, Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc. and The Strategy Group. You can see what each of the presenters had to say in the slides here.

All 2014 Birds of a Feather presentations have been added to our community page on Facebook and the following are some of the highlights from our wonderful presenters this year:

Dual presentations from Quicken kicked off the summit on Tuesday morning. CEO Bill Emerson shared deep insights on their innovation strategy and approach, posing the question: "How do you create that fire in the belly?" Through setting expectations, encouraging and recognizing people, Quicken ignites ideas and a culture of innovation within their organization.

Innovation Team Leader Bill Mirza presented "Cheese Factory: The Inches We Need Are Everywhere Around Us." Bill leads Quicken Loan’s Bullet Time initiative and is obsessed with the search to what he calls "Finding a Better Way." In his presentation, he shared more about their innovation program operations, including how their team of 6 members facilitates strong communication and organizational skills to execute and implement ideas. Learn more here.

Quicken-Loans-Bullet-Time

Nielsen Director of Planning and Governance Ann Marie Dumais presented "Create. Sustain. Accelerate. How to create a sustainable innovation culture through organization efficiency." As a 20-year veteran across various Nielsen owned and acquired companies, Ann Marie leads the development of a global company-wide innovation portal and a technology learning center. In this presentation, Ann Marie described how they've developed a mature innovation program and culture by applying six sigma around the ideation phase. View the full presentation here.

Nielsen-create-sustain-accelerate

Jeff Ferreira–Pro, Idea Curator for The SHOP, shared insights on the innovation pipeline at VSP Global.
VSP's Idea Bank Launched last summer with one question: What can VSP Global do to become more of a leader in the growing retail market for eyewear? Since then, Idea Bank has shifted focus to opportunity areas such as the billion-dollar wearable technology market and is currently exploring disruptive ideas and innovation around Google Glass products. Learn more here.

Vspglobal

Cabot Corporation is a leading global specialty chemicals and performance materials company. Head of Innovation John Jaddou joined BOF to present on "Focused Innovation: Connecting people and ideas to drive results." John discussed the importance of solving the right problems by engaging customers the right way and communicating effectively. Additionally, he shared how physical ideation sessions coupled with focused virtual WebStorms are essential to achieving this. View the presentation here.

Cabot

Lee Burnstein of Bizdom gave the presentation "Innovate, Incubate, Accelerate" to share how large companies can play a critical role in the startup community by providing resources and programs that encourage overall growth in the larger company's ecosystem. More than capital investment, accelerators can provide structured curriculum to help increase the speed of innovation and value of startups. Learn more about the acceleration process here.

Bizdom

Fathead provides life-sized, precision-cut vinyl wall graphics out of Detroit, and Lynda McFarlan joined us at BOF to give us an inside look at how they help organizations create spaces that truly inspire. For Fathead, the goals are to transform a space, evoke an emotion and tell a great story through imagery and use of space. To see more of how Fathead brings culture and philosophy to life, watch the videos featured in Lynda's presentation.

Fathead

Stay tuned for additional videos and highlights from the 2014 Birds of a Feather event!

Challenge Promotion Tools

Posted by Steve Bell at 10:21 AM, May 28, 2014


Innovation executives and program managers know that it can sometimes be a struggle to get and keep the attention of employees for the duration of an innovation Challenge. It’s not uncommon for a Challenge to start strong with a lot of idea flow, only to wane over time.

Enabling employees to innovate through their mobile device stimulates Challenge engagement, which is one of the main reasons Brightidea’s new Mobile 5 is being met with such enthusiasm.

Mobile 5 Adoption!

Mobile-Adoption

To ensure employees are taking full advantage of the power and convenience of mobile, they need to be made aware of it. That’s why we’ve recently released a set of new features focused on helping innovation managers promote their innovation Challenges and stimulate mobile usage. Here’s what’s new:

Mobile Promotion Widget Use the new Mobile Promotion Widget to promote mobile usage directly from your Challenge (WebStorm) or Enterprise home page. Your employees can click the iPhone or Android button to receive an email link that takes them directly to the app download. The widget image and text are fully customizable.

Mobile-promotion-widget

Mobile Promotion Newsletter Challenge administrators can now select a new out-of-the-box Mobile Promotion newsletter template to quickly and easily send employees instructions on how to get the Mobile 5 app.

Mobile-promotion-newsletter

Mobile Download Link in System Email Footer When your employees receive Brightidea system-generated emails, you can now include a customizable promotion in the footer, like “Try innovating on the go with your mobile device!” with a link to download the app.

Mobile-download-email-footer

Smart App Banners New Smart App Banners prompt the download of the Mobile 5 app when a user accesses Brightidea via their mobile browser. If the user already has the Mobile 5 app installed, it will prompt the user to open it.

Smart-app-banner

Invite a Colleague To encourage collaboration, you can enter a colleague’s email address to invite them to participate via mobile device. They will receive an email with a link to download the app and will be allowed to participate as long as they have been invited to the Challenge.

Invite-collaborator

Editable Push Notifications Push notifications have several important functions: first, they’re a great way to instantly mobilize hundreds or thousands of employees to participate in a new Challenge. They also play a critical role in keeping employees engaged over time with real-time updates on ideas, such as votes, comments, and tags. You can also use push notifications to create a sense of urgency with a note like “Don’t forget your Challenge is ending in 3 days – get your ideas in now!”

Push-Notifications

Challenge Managers can now fully customize notification text from the Challenge (WebStorm) setup page.

Webstorm-setup-page

With these new promotional tools, Innovation Program Managers can tap into one of the most significant trends of our time – the mobile workforce – to engage employee innovators wherever they are to collaborate and find solutions to pressing business issues across your organization. To learn more about Mobile 5 visit our webpage at brightidea.com/mobile5.

Merck Focuses on Innovation Strategy to Prepare for the Healthcare Industry of Tomorrow

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 2:37 PM, May 21, 2014


The healthcare field is a known hotbed of innovation and discovery, particularly as practitioners seek to overcome hurdles and challenges the industry faces. Forward-thinking healthcare companies today are striving to find solutions to patient needs that transcend medication, requiring great changes to the incumbent organizational structures. Such large amounts of innovation require an appropriate means of management. 

In a recent interview with Eye for Pharma, Samuel Pygall, Patient Services Manager at Merck, Sharpe and Dohme (Merck & Co.) discussses the many facets of organizations that first need addressing in order to drive innovation program initiatives.  

Using Interdisciplinary Expertise to Innovate Across Departments

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?

The organization of the future foresees "jack-of-all-trades" teams with expertise across many disciplines. Pygall asserts that by breaking out of the traditional structure, these independents will transcend organizational silos by working with points of contact within various departments, sharing and employing their interdepartmental expertise. By holding meetings with stakeholders of the various departments, an organization can increase transparency and progress with moving ideas forward, with the end goal being to benefit the patient.

Pygall has seen through Merck's telehealth initiative, that by getting participants involved in the earliest stages of a project, they enabled efficient progression in the new patient support system. Its stakeholders provided input into the design and development of the new system, which gave them a vested interest in success of the project.

Incentivizing Participation

To achieve big picture success, employees must understand the impact of the innovations on customer value and how integral each of them is to project. This means that the messages must hit home for each participant, by being properly tailored to each department, and avoiding genericized messages designed to inspire all. Each department must understand how important its involvement is and how it will benefit from the success of the program. Allowing employees to devote a percentage of their time to projects of personal interest is also a particularly effective means of inspiring eager participation.

By using these interdisciplinary experts to bridge the gap between departments and incentivizing effective participation in innovation programs, Merck and other healthcare providers can move forward into the medical system of the future.

For more information and the full text of this article, please refer to: http://social.eyeforpharma.com/

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

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