How to mobilise the right audiences for innovation challenges

When putting your innovation challenges together, make sure you have a complete plan with clearly defined, targeted audiences, across cultures and business units, as well as key messages, frequency expectations and a communication and incentives strategy. The overall point is to know and hit your targets:

• Target your skills and expertise first: Within your organisation, you almost certainly have people with different types of expertise, from several areas of knowledge, studies and work fields and with different conceptual and practical know-how. It’s this diversity and richness that you want to connect to, and focus on, real business problem-solving. Still, according to your challenge’s specificities – more or less technical and more or less field-related – you may have to engage more restricted groups within your organisation, such as engineers, lab technicians, machine operators and analysts. You may also need to look outside your company’s walls to include suppliers, external experts and other stakeholders. Your innovation tools should allow you to do just that.

• Ask yourself what you are mostly looking for: The framework shown below may be of use to identify your challenge goals and target community.


• Remember innovation challenges do not capture all individuals’ interest in the same way: You have to create empathy, establish almost an emotional commitment. This is also of critical importance in geographically spread-out organisations. For example, inefficiency in a headquarter compound’s energy use in Switzerland is probably completely irrelevant to the same company’s Peruvian employees. Although corporate challenges need to intersect your entire organisation, remember to align them to local reality, also making room for more explicit priorities within specific industry and geographic focuses.

• Seek some balance: Use both specific geographic or know-how groups (i.e. targeted groups), if needed, but always launch more broadly-based innovation challenges, to increase the sense of community and improve transversal collaboration.

• Take into account again that, across geographies and cultures, people are different: Individuals can be more social or insightful, more creative or more logical and critical thinkers – skills that you also want to leverage. The most typical behaviours can be connected with four profiles used in the Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology:
Achievers participate the most with ideas and comments to gather as many points as possible. They become huge contributors.
Explorers, who love to look around, are great at helping the community discover other potential contributions. They submit insights and diversify overall participation by doing everything.
Socialisers stimulate others to enhance their contributions. They submit many suggestions for improvement and love to check out what is going on, as well as watch leaderboards.
Killers love to compete for the sake of competing, and they are very active in the selection and evaluation process of ideas. They are great at differentiating what is good from what is less good and even greater at clarifying those ideas that are no good at all.

Participating has to not only be attractive and entertaining but also inclusive of all these types of players. Idea management software can help you do this as long as it allows several types of participation, such as idea and insight submission, comments to improve ideas and individual and crowd evaluation. From the beginning of the initiative and over time, gamification techniques also will prove helpful to engage your audiences in the innovation challenges.

• Make sure also that you have an appropriate system of incentives and recognition in place: This meets your audience’s different aspirations and motivations, stirring idea generation and added-value contributions. Periodic cycles of incentives – connected to challenge cycles – will ensure people want to improve their participation and remain involved over time. Remember as well to align the incentives with your publicly communicated purpose.

• Communicate continuously, from the beginning and as the process evolves: Good communication will play a part in making the challenge attractive to those who are called to participate. The more individuals see the success of projects to which they have contributed, the more likely they are to remain mobilised. For this undertaking, involve your communication teams – on a country and business level as well – in developing more detailed and well-oriented plans.


‘The innovation challenges we launch for particular groups are typically more narrow because we are communicating to a target very familiar with a given topic or reality. We can then start from a more specific point and ask for answers that are more concrete. In more general challenges, we always chose more open questions, although we also guide these groups with insights to lead them and frame the challenge’s scope (explaining what exists, what is already being done and what has been tried without success).’

‘It’s important to match needs and competencies. Also, it’s very important to deliver feedback. Always.’


  • To whom is this innovation challenge useful, and who can benefit from meeting it? (This question supports you through alignment with country and department priorities.)
  • What incentives and messages should I use to engage my different teams?
  • Does it create empathy with the target?
  • Is the challenge being communicated in an attractive way?
  • Do I need specific skills or knowledge to meet this challenge?

Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO/
Francisco Bernardes, Exago’s head of Innovation Services/

Are you building your innovation challenges right?

Your ultimate innovation challenge – what works and what doesn’t

Why innovation drives engagement among Generations Y and Z

If given the choice, one in four Millennials would now leave their current employer to join a new organisation or do something different. In two years’ time, the number increases to 44 per cent, says a 2016 Deloitte survey. A Gallup report also shows that US companies are losing $350 billion in revenue every year due to employees’ disengagement.

As the Millennials/Generation Y, born in the early 1980s through to the early 1990s, take the place of Generation X at work, all this becomes even more challenging. And Generation Z (mid-1990s to early 2000s) is already following.

If you’re a manager these days, you know that this X, Y, Z mishmash means:
• Loyalty is gone
• There’s a new set of values and priorities
• Technology is everywhere
• Change and innovation become the way things are done.

Combining Human Resources and Innovation expertise, Aylin Olsun, managing partner of ASO Company, and Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO, share insights and recommendations on how to increase the engagement of these ever more demanding employees, while strengthening your company’s collaborative innovation culture. You can get the paper “Why innovation drives engagement among Generations Y and Z” here.

The challenge is on: ‘People@Liberty’ launched on Innovation Open Day

Liberty Seguros Portugal, awarded several times for being ‘a great place to work’ and promoting ‘excellence at work’, wants to take its employees’ creativity and engagement to a new level. The insurance company has set in motion the ‘People@Liberty’ programme, based on Exago’s innovation management platform, inviting all the staff to build the company’s future together.

To kick-start – and create awareness about – the initiative, all the company’s teams were invited to join in Innovation Open Day: a full-day event giving them the chance to get to know the programme and use the platform, encouraged by fun game dynamics.

Innovating to grow together
Everyone can now access the platform anytime to submit ideas and insights easily, as well as to evaluate and comment on the ideas employees believe will bring more value to the company. Liberty Seguros’s collective intelligence is thus being activated and focused on key challenges, while each participant receives rewards and recognition for his or her contributions.

Innovation has long been part of Liberty Seguros DNA. With this new programme, ‘we want to efficiently engage our teams, mobilising skills and knowledge, to take the best of each employee in terms of ideas, to seek innovative solutions and identify the best opportunities to grow and to achieve better results and returns. Through participation, sharing and common construction, we are looking to inspire our people with our shared mission and values, as we work together to draw closer to our clients and their real needs, delivering the best service ever,’ says Rui Barata, Liberty Seguros Project Leader.

Innovation-driven and marked by a strong social responsibility culture, Liberty Seguros is part of the Liberty Mutual Group and has been operating in Portugal since May 2003. Backed by the dedication of each of its 511 employees, the company constantly seeks the best solutions to protect Portuguese families, individuals and micro, small and medium enterprises.

Idea management is worth millions at Brazilian Fleury

A reference in innovation in Brazil from its beginning, Fleury is the largest group of clinical analysis in Latin America, with more than 10,000 employees currently. To stay ahead in the race, in 2011, the group introduced the “Central de Ideias” (Idea Market), an Exago idea management solution capable of unleashing the potential of Fleury’s staff. In just over two years, more than 900 ideas were implemented, generating millions of reais in value.

In addition to the increased involvement of employees in the company’s culture of innovation, the ideas proposed in Exago’s platform have also resulted in more efficient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly processes, reducing the costs associated with operations.

Exago’s idea management solution was adopted in September 2011, to promote organisational creativity and leverage the company’s collective intelligence. This “Central de Ideias” is a tailored enterprise social network, where all can participate and which not only collects and harnesses everyone’s ideas but also evaluates and values them.

Thousands of active employees, hundreds of ideas implemented

Fifteen months after implementing and disseminating Exago’s model, more than 70% of Fleury’s staff had joined in actively, a participation level exceeding even the most ambitious targets. Indeed, four months after the launch, participation was already three times the total participation in earlier initiatives. All this was achieved with half of the rewards budget needed before. In early 2014, over 6,800 participants were active and interconnected.

This high level of participation has borne much fruit. Throughout 2012, 480 ideas were introduced on average every month.

Patricia Maeda, in charge of innovation within the Fleury Group, says that “The number and quality of ideas implemented is greatly benefiting the company. We were able to involve the whole Fleury universe in the collaborative process, allowing different types of employees to participate in the program: creative individuals, critics, and executors.”

And what is the receipt for good results? “The successful results come from a combination of factors. One of them is the tool itself, a major component of the program, but this does not eliminate the importance of managing constant engagement and communication, as well as alignment with leaders. Without an integrated management of these factors, we would not have the results we have today”, Patricia explains.

To know the full story, download this case study in here.

TIP: How to build a winning innovation team?

You want to set the innovation ball rolling, but you need your team to come along. What’s the trick to engaging people and their enthusiasm?

1. First, a thorough and intelligent communication plan
Building a communication plan that promotes innovation is essential. When putting this plan together, be sure to consider a complete scope that includes clearly defined audiences, key messages, frequency expectations, and a media strategy. To have a good innovation management software is not enough. And do not forget to make the most out of your existing internal media (like newsletters, intranet, and internal TV).

Other non-conventional media can also be considered. When planning your innovation program, be sure to engage your internal personnel and any agencies you work with.

2. “What’s in it for me?”
This is the number one question most people will ask. Organizations, business units, and individuals are motivated by incentives. These don’t have to be tangible incentives; the most essential we’ve found is recognition. Being recognized and acknowledged motivates people to contribute to innovation programs at every stage of the process.

Insight: “The majority of senior executives (that is, C-level executives and vice presidents) and decision makers (that is, directors and managers) are satisfied with the return on innovation spending. In sharp contrast, little more than a third of other employees—36 percent of respondents—are satisfied.” Senior Executive Innovation Survey, BCG, 2010

3. Feedback, again and again
Be sure to tell everyone exactly what’s going to happen and what has happened. The times are gone when management could withhold information and expect everyone to continue to diligently contribute.

There’s nothing more annoying to a potential contributor than to be kept in the dark after dedicating his or her time to an innovation workshop, submitting an idea, or otherwise investing energy in the initiative. An absence of feedback will dramatically disengage people.

Remember: Engagement is the fuel for innovation.

Pedro do Carmo Costa, Exago’s director and co-founder

FROM THE START: Innovation looks easy – it’s not