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.

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.

Erasing the “Fuzzy” from The Front End of Innovation - Upcoming Webcast, December 4

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 2:42 PM, November 25, 2013

Many people believe that innovation is a form of art, and solely occurs in creativity sessions among post-it notes, squishy toys, and beanbag chairs. While this may be true in the ideation process, innovation successes are in fact driven by structure, metrics and methodology. An effective innovation program combines the art and the science, which can sometimes make understanding the front end of the process.....a little fuzzy.

Planview_logoJoin us Wednesday, December 4 from 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM CST for a lively discussion with Carrie Nauyalis, New Product Development Solution Evangelist of Planview, and Kristen Jordan Fotter, Senior Innovation Consultant of Brightidea, to learn how you can take your innovation program to the next level by leveraging best practices from leading global companies that have successfully balanced art and science when it comes to innovation.

Kristen Jordon FotterSign up for this exclusive webinar on Erasing the “Fuzzy” from The Front End of Innovation today.


Introducing Innovation as a Shared Service (ISS) in the Fall 2013 Product Release

Posted by Steve Bell at 3:01 PM, September 24, 2013

As a leader in the collaborative innovation software space for over a decade, we’ve done a lot of our own collaborative innovation with industry-leading companies like GE, SAP, Motorola Solutions, and Bosch. With today’s breakneck pace of business, these organizations understand the imperative to innovate or be left in the dust.

Along this innovation journey, we’ve worked with many different forms of innovation from new product development to six sigma to R&D. Recently, one model has surfaced as a highly successful approach for getting innovation programs up and running, and delivering consistent innovation outcomes across organizations. It is a form of dedicated innovation group that we call Innovation as a Shared Service – or “ISS”.

ISS is similar to an organizational service like IT and HR because the team is tasked with servicing various stakeholders in diverse business units across the company. The goals for the ISS team are to create a culture of innovation, oversee a corporate innovation center of excellence, and coordinate a network of innovation champions.

Since Brightidea and our customers have experienced first-hand the value of ISS, today we’re excited to announce new capabilities in our Fall 2013 release designed to support and drive ISS team success. Here are some of the highlights:

WebStorm Scheduler: Auto-pilot for the Innovation Program Manager


ISS teams are nearly always managing concurrent innovation campaigns on behalf of multiple business unit sponsors. At the same time, they are nearly always budget and resource constrained. They need to be energy efficient – to do more with less. Campaign Scheduler provides set-and-forget scheduling of routine activities such as start and stop dates for challenges, ideas, voting, comments, newsletters, and blogs.

Social Collaboration Tools: Draw your employees into innovation


The beauty of collaborative innovation is that you can tap into your corporate “wisdom of crowds” to develop solutions to challenges, improve processes, or discover the Next Big Thing. For this to be successful you need an interested crowd that is motivated to participate. We’ve introduced Social Collaboration Tools including User Tagging, Notifications, and Action Item Alerts to drive campaign participation. This is all enabled under a new consistent Global Navigation paradigm that that spans our product suite end to end.

Idea Boards: Showcase your best ideas


Collaborative innovation extends beyond just coming up with ideas. Companies collaborate all the way through the innovation process. It starts with the ability for people to find and evaluate ideas in an easy, engaging way. Idea Boards are a Pinterest-style interface that lets you easily sort, filter and showcase your best ideas. Because after all, you want people to decide on your best ideas, not algorithms.

WebStorm Feedback and Reporting: Show the true value of your programs


Working with our ISS clients, we know that they need to justify the value of their programs to upper management and stakeholders. Since the outcomes from these programs may not materialize until a much later implementation date, ISS teams need a consistent way to track their effectiveness every step of the way. Webstorm Feedback enables innovation teams to capture and share instant satisfaction feedback from business unit sponsors (the customer) on program status, activities, and results.

Another critical way to monitor campaign effectiveness is through reporting. The Fall 2013 Release delivers new reporting and dashboard capabilities to help innovation managers track their innovation program effectiveness through the entire lifecycle from idea to outcome.

Ongoing Innovation at Brightidea

There are numerous additional new features rolling out with the Fall 2013 release. Fall 2013 is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s on our roadmap to support collaborative innovation and ISS.

These are exciting times for Brightidea. While one of our main competitors has recently thrown in the towel and been acquired due to financial woes, we’re not only expanding our platform and services – we’re accelerating our innovation momentum. Stay Tuned!

Announcing the Brightidea "Executive Roundtable" Webinar Series and First Webinar

Posted by Kate Pietrelli at 9:32 AM, September 16, 2013

We at Brightidea are always looking to provide our customers and partners with a wealth of information on innovation management best practices as well as connecting innovation experts to learn from one another in the field. In our new "Executive Roundtable" Webinar Series, we will be bringing together proven innovation leaders to discuss a variety of topics pertaining to innovation management.

For our first webinar in this series, please join Forrester Research, Humana, and Brightidea on Tuesday, October 8, 2013 1:00-2:00 PM ET for our session on, "Getting Started with Innovation as a Shared Service" where you'll learn about best practices for structuring a team and innovation program.




Harvard Business School recently released a study showing that up to 90% of innovations fail, but not all innovation initiatives should be doomed to die on the vine. With the right structure, processes and technology, innovation can become a repeatable, scalable process that nets more success than failure. Innovation as a Shared Service (ISS) isn’t just some new fluffy buzzword; it’s an emerging practice that is proven to scale and drive measurable results.

Leading Forrester VP and Principal Analyst Chip Gliedman will discuss why making a true commitment to innovation with resources and budget is absolutely critical for success. Sabrina Prouty, Insights Strategic Consultant with Humana, will share how their team achieves success with a shared services approach to innovation.


Learn from leading industry experts on the following topics:
  • What causes innovation programs to fail?
  • What is Innovation as a Shared Service, and how it leads to successful outcomes?
  • What are the best practices for structuring a team and innovation program?

Space is limited so we encourage you to sign up now! "Getting Started with Innovation as a Shared Service."

Video Highlights and Successes from Birds of a Feather 2013

Posted by Sandra Ponce de Leon at 12:00 PM, August 13, 2013

Last month’s Birds of a Feather (BOF) event in Chicago brought together innovators from all over the country, and a wide variety of industries. Attendees were provided the opportunity to exchange ideas, share experiences and find new ways to solve innovation issues their companies are facing, which we captured in video at the event.

Strategic innovation leaders from Humana, WMS Gaming, VSP Global, Quicken Loans and more sat down with us and shared their personal experiences and touched on what they gained from the various presentations, panels and informative, impromptu conversations at BOF.

Some memorable quotes from the event are below:

"It's just so inspiring talking to other colleagues in companies in very different industries just to get different ideas, see what works, what hasn't for folks, and really where things are going. I think it really helps all of us on our journeys for innovation management."
Heidi Hattendorf, Motorola Solutions

“It’s really focused on delivering something that is going to make business and life better and easier.”
Greg Thompson, Autoliv

“Everything that we wanted to achieve, that we had gaps or deficiencies in the process prior to, Brightidea was able to accommodate that.”
Lori Zapanta, Interactive Intelligence

Also featured in the video is our CEO, Matt Greeley, who was excited about the new faces in attendance as well as being able to reconnect with previous attendees noting the common thread among participants: "Everyone has the same passion for fighting the good fight for innovation."

Watch the full 2013 Bird's of a Feather Highlights Video on the Brightidea Vimeo Page.

Account Manager Rod O'Connor Joins Brightidea

Posted by Sandra Ponce de Leon at 10:38 AM, August 06, 2013

Brightidea keeps growing! Today, we're excited to share that Rod O'Connor has joined Brightidea as our newest Account Manager, bringing with him a wealth of experience in managing customer relations in fast-paced inside and outside sales environments. Here’s a little more about Rod in his own words:

1. Where were you before you joined Brightidea?

For the last 3 ½ years I was in new business sales, selling corporate foreign exchange payment and check elimination services for Western Union Business Solutions, a division of Western Union. Most people know Western Union services as sending money from consumer to consumer, but they are also the world’s largest non-bank provider of foreign payment services for businesses as well. We provided customized solutions for law firms, financial institutions, higher education, NGO’s and corporations.

2. What does innovation mean to you?

For me, innovation is about continually advancing products and services for the greater good of the end user. It's all about progression, improvement and creating a better experience for customers.

3. What gets you excited about working for Brightidea?

I really enjoy the open collaborative environment, and I appreciate how everyone on the team has been accessible and driven to make this the best company with the best Innovation Management platform in the industry. I also enjoy helping Brightidea customers solve their innovation challenges to continue being the best in their respective industries.

4. What new innovation are you most excited about?

The Taylormade R1 Driver! Finally, someone built the “swiss army” of drivers, allowing you to change the loft, ball flight path and face angle of your driver with the twist of a small wrench.

Rod5. What do you do for fun?

I enjoy playing golf with my friends as well as playing in tournaments with a golf club that I run called the East Bay Hackers Gentleman’s Club. I also enjoy brewing beer, and to date, I have brewed close to 500 gallons. Brewing is a very innovative process because the recipe is completely developed in your imagination, and just by adding a different hop varietal or grain combination, you can completely alter the flavor even though it may be still classified as a pale ale or a stout, etc. Additionally, I enjoy seeing the world and experiencing different cultures, finding new restaurants around the Bay Area, and spending time with my wife and family.

9 Tips From the Trenches: Innovation Leaders Speak

Posted by Sandra Ponce de Leon at 1:36 PM, July 11, 2013

Our recent Birds of a Feather event in Chicago did not disappoint. Now in its 6th year, drawing innovation leaders from around the globe, this year’s event took place at WMS Gaming’s facilities just outside of Chicago – a modern and technologically innovative building in its own right.

BOF attendees flocked together the evening before the event to network, partake in casino games, and compete passionately for the ultimate prize of the night – a new Brightidea platform feature to be coded and delivered to the winning party just 24 hours after the announcement. Read more about the new feature developed by Brightidea.

The next day was filled with juicy insights from WMS Gaming, Autoliv, ACT Inc., Quicken Loans, and Humana. Here's 9 tips our innovation practitioners shared to ensure a successful innovation journey:

#1 Take an incremental approach to introducing new technology
Larry Pacey, Head of Global Product Strategy for WMS Gaming, spoke about the company’s unique corporate culture – a culture where innovation is embedded into its DNA. Over the course of its long history, WMS Gaming has brought many significant innovations in casino and social gaming to life for millions of enthusiasts.

However, having a long-term vision and the desire to commercialize it is not enough. Consumers need to be ready for innovative products, and sometimes, it takes a building block approach to get there. For example, in 2003, WMS was the first company to put a video overlay into their slot machines appearing in front of the original mechanical reels. This created a visual familiarity that consumers were used to seeing, while also still advancing the consumer experience.

Keepinitcheesy #2 Keep it fun and cheesy
Both literally and figuratively, Quicken Loans’ irreverent and fun culture shines through in the way they approach innovation. Kathy Ternes and Drew Butler’s presentation showed us how they infuse fun into everything they do. Starting with the name of their innovation platform, The Cheese Factory, the program takes its brand inspiration from a cartoon mousetrap and even has its own mascot, Simon the Mouse. Recently, Quicken re-launched The Cheese Factory with a tongue-in-cheek video that shows employees that no idea is too small and that anyone with an idea can participate the company's innovation initiatives.

#3 Dedicate time to innovation

"We think that in the brain economy, innovation and creativity are key in developing ideas and creating jobs and wealth…" Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loans Founder and Chairman

Quicken Loans maximizes its “brain economy” by dedicating 4 hours every Monday to innovation. While this time doesn’t reflect full 100% participation, these 4 weekly hours alone have created new revenue and cost savings opportunities because it asserts a mandate across the team to focus on innovation.

#4 Make innovation culture part of the program strategy
Presenters Laura Frisby and Kari Stillman at ACT, Inc. shared the importance of making a cultural shift to an innovation mindset which fosters creativity and new ideas. This starts with a strategy that builds a bridge for team members – taking them from their legacy thinking to a new perspective that is built on sharing, collaboration and ideas. ACT started their innovation culture review by taking an innovation maturity survey by Braden Kelley. This helped them set a benchmark and understand exactly where they were in their innovation program’s maturity scale. From this point, they were able to implement new challenges that helped evolve and accelerate their innovation initiatives.

#5 Communication and feedback is key to success
ACT created the Bloom Out Loud Award, presented in an awards ceremony four times throughout the year to showcase the best new ideas, provide transparency into the ideation process, accelerate rapid prototyping and create a platform to share concepts with the entire ACT staff. Transparency and a physical forum where new ideas are recognized and rewarded is key to supporting a culture of innovation and creating a foundation for more collaboration.

#6 Recognize and reward to keep participants engaged
WMS Gaming ensures that rewards are an integral part of the process. The company created a traveling trophy “light bulb” that resides for one quarter with the team that received the most points for ideas submitted. Additionally, each quarter, the team with the most implemented ideas gets a group lunch where executives and challenge leaders have a chance to mingle and discuss the ideas in person with the group.

Across many different organizations, gift cards, a certificate and recognition by peers are more than enough to keep employees motivated and participating.

#7 Define roles and responsibilities from the beginning
For WMS Gaming, governance is critical to ensuring that ideas move effectively through the pipeline. It’s important to create a process upfront and communicate expectations. Specific timing related to idea response, the types of ideas that will be accepted and agreeing to approvals are all set within their innovation platform to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Brightidea’s rules engine ensures compliance with WMS' commitment to acknowledge all idea submissions within one day as well as the obligation to make a decision on new ideas within 72 hours.

Sabrina #8 Approach innovation as a shared service
Sabrina Prouty, Insights Integration Strategic Consultant at Humana, shared how her innovation team is structured much like a consulting organization that connects business units and ensures innovation initiatives are aligned with high-level corporate strategies and priorities.

The innovation team consults with various business groups, spending a significant amount of time planning and securing key resources from the teams. A Statement of Work (SOW) is created for every idea challenge that details out the scope, “problem” statement, agreed-upon criteria for submissions, projected impact to organization, and a timeline to launch (usually 8-10 weeks). All involved parties, such as the project lead and the champion, must sign off on the SOW prior to the challenge being adopted.

In the end, the team delivers a Results and Recommendations packet for every challenge that includes the identification of potential cost savings, trends and insights, a summary of groups that participated, and a cost / benefit analysis that identifies how many years it will take to achieve a return on the idea.

#9 Put your marketing hat on
Greg Thompson from Autoliv shared that each challenge needs to be treated as a unique project, and marketed in a similar fashion to a typical new product go-to-market strategy. From developing a catchy brand and name to staying in touch with participants – the challenge needs to be fun and resonate with the audience. Engagement can be achieved through communications channels, such as blogs and newsletters managed on the Brightidea platform that keep the challenge top-of-mind with audiences to encourage participation. Greg also recommends ensuring challenges are based on a real need. Making a challenge meaningful, especially as it contributes to the long-term strategic health of the company, which will infuse that innovative and collaborative spirit into your teams for the long haul.

For more Birds of a Feather insights, stay tuned to the blog! We’ll be sharing more great content, including videos from this year’s event.


Steve Bell joins Brightidea as the Director of Product Marketing

Posted by Sandra Ponce de Leon at 12:22 PM, July 08, 2013

We’re thrilled to announce a new addition to the Brightidea team. Steve Bell has joined Brightidea as the Director of Product Marketing, bringing with him an impressive and extensive product marketing history. In his new role, Steve will be responsible for product evangelization, sales enablement and product messaging. Here’s a little more about Steve in his own words:

1. What were you doing before you joined Brightidea?

I’ve been a product marketing professional for over 16 years, mostly in the cloud CRM/Contact Center software market, and more recently in the collaboration and social big data space. At RightNow Technologies I drove product marketing programs for what became the company’s most profitable and industry-leading product, the Dynamic Agent Desktop – think of it as a Zendesk for the enterprise call center.

More recently I ran the Solutions marketing program at Mindjet and the Product Marketing program at DataSift. Mindjet is a leader in mind mapping and collaborative work management software. DataSift is a startup with a social data mining platform – something I’m sure the NSA is already using.

2. What does innovation mean to you?

Pretty basic and broad – innovation is coming up with and applying a new “thing” to meet a need. “Things” can be products, services, technologies, etc. Needs can be known problems to solve, or yet-to-be uncovered needs.

3. What gets you excited about working for Brightidea?

Lots of things! The Innovation software space is really interesting and the market opportunity for Brightidea is huge. I’m excited to be part of such a great, collaborative team. It’s nice to work for a company that has the size and vibe of a startup but the organizational and product maturity of an established company. I see tons of opportunity to apply my experience to evangelizing Brightidea through differentiated messaging, great marketing content and collateral, customer advocacy, and sales enablement.

4. What new innovation are you most excited about?

  • The Lytro is a camera that captures the entire light field with each shot, so you can do your focusing and other photo manipulation after you actually take the picture.
  • The Vinturi aerator – near and dear to my heart (see next answer below), until this little gizmo came along wine drinkers had to wait hours for wine to “breathe” before drinking. The Vinturi aerator sucks air into the wine as it is poured through the device, and “Voila”, your wine is ready to drink.
  • The whole “shared service” thing. A recent example comes from 3 teenagers who passed up Harvard scholarships to start FlightCar. It’s the AirBNB model applied to car rental service. It’s one of those innovations that makes you wonder “why didn’t someone think of this before?”

5. What do you do for fun?

With a family of six (four boys ages 13-18), there’s always something going on in the Bell household – going to lacrosse games, weekends at the beach, hikes, etc. However, one of the most fun (and sanity restoring) activities is actually GETTING AWAY from the kids with my wife Colleen and exploring wine country. We like to get away to the lesser known wine regions like Amador, El Dorado, and Anderson Valley. We also hang out in Healdsburg and Russian River. Living in the Oakland Hills, I also enjoy hitting the local Oakland and Berkeley restaurant scene for interesting global cuisine.


We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Steve join our expanding team of industry experts bringing our clients’ innovation programs and Brightidea into the next phase of growth.

BOF 2013 Hackathon Delivers Innovation at Customer Speed

Posted by Sandra Ponce de Leon at 1:24 PM, June 27, 2013

Dogfooding: a slang term used to reference a scenario in which a company uses its own product to demonstrate the quality and capabilities of the product.

It stands to reason that at this year’s Birds of a Feather - an event dedicated to sharing and promoting innovation best practices – Brightidea would give itself an innovation challenge by way of an overnight hackathon.

This year’s opening event held at WMS Gaming was a themed Casino Night and the stakes were high…in more ways than one. Customers Motorola Solutions, Humana, Autoliv, WMS Gaming, Quicken Loans, and many others had their eyes on the prize – the winner with the most chips would get the new feature of their choice developed by Brightidea…within 24 hours.

Humana won. And the hackathon was on.

JasonanddevteamThe feature? Humana wanted the ability for admins to search and filter by tags and admin labels, to provide greater idea search refinement. Tags are being leveraged increasingly within the Brightidea Innovation Suite – for example, end users will be able use them to categorize ideas, subscribe to specific tags on ideas of interest and see notifications whenever they log in to their platform. We also decided to add advanced functionality that will allow admins to further organize ideas with sorting as well as new admin-only labels. After speaking directly with Humana to learn their pain points and business need, Brightidea’s VP of Product Jason Hardy-Smith huddled with Brightidea’s development teams to plan how to design and implement the solution.

After a furious all-nighter by the Product & Technical Services teams, the new feature spec came together and the new beta feature was brought to life.

Users can search ideas based on Tags and Admin Labels. Two new columns - for tags and admin labels - were added to the WebStorm™ admin ideas grid. A new dropdown box in the search area allows the user to specify the tags or labels to include or exclude in the search. The search results can even be bookmarked and exported into Excel.

Search-typeahead-tagsHere’s an example screen shot:

The beta working feature was demo-ed to the BOF audience the very next day – to great response.

While this innovation example is less about the wisdom of crowds and more about luck of the draw, nevertheless it’s a wonderful thing when a great idea comes together spontaneously to delight your customer.



This blog post was written by our new Director of Product Marketing, Steve Bell. Steve joins us with an impressive and extensive product marketing history, driving messaging and positioning, product evangelization, and sales enablement for enterprise SaaS vendors across CRM, Social Big Data, and Collaboration markets. Steve is an avid oenophile, foodie, and father to 4 teenage boys. We'll be hearing more from and about Steve in future blog posts.

The Road to Innovation Results: WMS Gaming chats with Brightidea

Posted by Sandra Ponce de Leon at 8:38 AM, May 29, 2013

Dave_paul_smilesOur Director of Business Development, Paul Tran recently sat down with David Detlefsen of WMS Gaming, a company with a rich history of innovation in digital gaming entertainment for the casino industry. WMS started their innovation program 5 years ago, during a time when they were experiencing strong revenue and employee growth. WMS wanted to ensure that it preserved its special corporate culture through this period and specifically maintain itself as a company of ideas.

For WMS having a platform that could support its vision…for every employee to share and to contribute to its innovative company voice was extremely important. It wanted to stimulate internal employee collaboration to help its managers solve real business problems and increase invention disclosures with IP patents groups, while keeping a focus on its core culture.

Using Brightidea's technology platform, the program has been hugely successful since its inception in 2007, resulting in 64 patents being filed and the creation of 110 continuous improvement ideas that include efficiency improvements, cost savings, waste reduction, and safety advances. Deploying Brightidea's Idea management platform onto the manufacturing shop floor means WMS can harness its employees' creativity and empower them to take steps to improve their work life, while also creating cost savings for the company.

The program has evolved and continues to improve over time through valuable learnings gathered through its history, here's just a few of the many nuggets David shared with us.

  1. Do not start with an open suggestion box, keep challenges focused and aligned with your corporate strategy. While it may seem like a good idea at the time, an open suggestion box will actually cause more pain by opening up a firehouse of hundreds if not thousands of unfiltered ideas to sort through, many of which will have no tie back to corporate objectives. And by not responding to all ideas, your submitters will get frustrated, causing ideas to dwindle in the long run.

  2. Use a solution pull strategy over idea push. This requires some thinking on problem statements and an understanding of business challenges. However, changing to this kind of focused challenge paradigm will guarantee ideas are on target with company priorities.
  3. Ideapull

  4. Respond to every submission that comes in, having a focused challenge will make this easier. Idea submitters don't mind being told NO, but they like to know why. Keeping the two way dialogue alive will ensure that ideas get better over time and continue to encourage participation. If submitter's ideas go into a black hole, this will make them less likely to participate over time. Providing a simple explanation for the idea not moving forward is much better than not hearing anything at all.

  5. Set a schedule and market your campaign. Leveraging your intranet, using a blog and a newsletter to communicate will keep your campaign top of mind and keep employees participating, collaborating, commenting, and elaborating on ideas. Develop a schedule that has multiple campaigns running at once so that each is in a different phase of execution and review at any one time.

  6. Develop a top level strategy deployment. This can be scheduled longer than a standard campaign period and is a business process developed in partnership with the CEO or President to set audacious goals for the entire company to strive for in the year. This is a stretch goal challenge that requires the entire company to be in alignment and work towards, to try to attain something the company isn't currently doing.

Daveandpaul_hhDavid ends the interview by sporting his Innovation hard hat, tapping into the metaphor that innovation is fun, but at the same time can be messy like a construction site and also a little dangerous. You should always start with a blueprint, but in the midst of the construction, you should be comfortable getting your hands dirty but above all staying safe. And don't lose sight that it's okay be silly and have fun!

The interview is loaded with many more ideas for how to best structure an innovation program, how to set expectations and above all ensure success that will keep the program running for years to come. He reminds us to take things slow, establish a process and nurture it along the way, which will leave room for wider expansion that builds upon program success.

We're thankful to our partner Planview for providing a forum for our conversation. If you're interested in hearing best practices from more innovation practitioners, our next Birds of Feather (BOF) event is happening soon in Chicago on June 24, 25th. If you'd like to apply for an invitation to attend, please contact Celia Seib for more information.

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