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.

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• 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.

HERE’S WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY ON THE SUBJECT:

‘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.’

 

FINALLY, TRY THESE ACTIVATION QUESTIONS:
  • 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/ dnc@exago.com
Francisco Bernardes, Exago’s head of Innovation Services/ fmb@exago.com

READ MORE:
Are you building your innovation challenges right?

FROM THE START:
Your ultimate innovation challenge – what works and what doesn’t

The ultimate innovation management success factor

Most innovations come through steady, continuous improvement. We’ve seen how engagement and efficiency are key in your idea management processes. Yet, embedding innovation as corporate culture takes time and perseverance.

That’s why you have to capture every single tangible and intangible win at the beginning and throughout the process. Share and celebrate individuals and your community’s achievements.

Periodic and other ongoing cycles of urgent, meaningful challenges; clear owners and good resources; updated incentives and communication plans and game mechanics – they all work together to create a desire to come back and participate, ensuring your programme’s continuity.

Strive also to make the most valuable ideas come alive as soon as possible, to give your programme credibility. Remember that experimentation and a (low) level of risk have to be part of this continuously evolving process.

Finally, this process needs to deliver value. Otherwise, your initiative will die. The software is a means, not an end, and it should make your life easier. Sustainability is your ultimate key success factor, as well as a goal in itself.

READ MORE:
What we’ve learned about the idea management challenge

FROM THE START:
Can you master the 3 key success factors of innovation management?

Pedro do Carmo Costa, Exago’s director and co-founder
pcc@exago.com

Gamifying innovation: stay ahead of the game

Photo: Pawel Kadysz@unsplash.com

Exago’s model proves that gamification can successfully be applied to innovation, as we have seen these last few weeks. As a result, the ideation process becomes highly engaging, highly efficient and sustainable over time.

These are precisely the main benefits gamification brings to innovation initiatives. They become entertaining and inclusive to all types of players, appealing to specific aspirations and motivations. While prediction markets make decision-making more effective, harnessing the collective intelligence of all participants, periodic cycles of challenges and incentives assure users want to improve their participation and remain involved over time.

Still, if you are ready to gamify the way you innovate – using a collaborative model for the participation of a large and diversified group of people – always make sure you have the right process and tools in place (communication, appropriate system of awards and recognition, etc.).

Remember also that the challenges themselves, the positive incentives provided, have to be aligned with a common and clear purpose that is publicly communicated. The process has to be transparent and democratic. It has to turn the best ideas into projects.

At the end of the day, compelling results are only achieved when you succeed in engaging your people and multiplying that engagement through a strong and shared sense of purpose. When making the future happen, this much seems sure: Companies that take on gamification in their innovation efforts are ahead of the game.

FROM THE START:
Gamifying innovation: How to engage your people in key business challenges

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s CEO and co-founder/ pdc@exago.com
Francisco Rhodes Sérgio, VP Inbound Strategy and Sales – Latin America / frs@exago.com

 

How exactly do we gamify innovation?

Photo: Hans@pixabay.com

Exago’s model applies game design techniques and covers most game elements we’ve identified: quests (challenges), points, avatars, badges (opinion leader, etc.) and social interaction with the sharing of knowledge and information. It also promotes collaboration (co-creation, commenting and peer evaluation) and competition (the best ideas are chosen by the crowd) – including a system to reinforce a sense of progression and levelling up among participants.

All participants (investors) have access to the same amount and quality of information. Everyone has the power to influence the evaluation and selection process. The ideation management process becomes democratic and has no hierarchical limitations.

Specifically, our solutions are based on expert services and a software platform that mimics a stock market – an incentive-driven and engaging corporate network that rewards and recognises participants. This market mechanism is supported by a sophisticated algorithm, providing infinite liquidity to the market at any given time. But it’s quite simple and intuitive to participate. It’s inclusive and dynamic. Here’s how it works globally.

Let’s go through it, in more detail:
I. The challenges: The business challenges are defined and communicated to participants. The challenges have to be adjusted to fit the organisation’s needs and participants’ motivations and aspirations.

II. Initial points assigned: All participants start with the same amount of credits (a kind of entry bonus, like in a frequent flyer programme), that they can use in the platform.

III. Gathering points: Everyone can participate by submitting valid ideas and co-creating and adding value to other participants’ ideas. They can also invest in the ideas they believe are the best for the organisation. The more they participate and the more they create value, the higher they score.

IV. Evaluating and selecting the best ideas: It’s a perfectly gamified mechanism. People are driven to be truthful in their choices because if they invest in a bad idea, they lose credits. The collective intelligence of the community is gathered in this way, not only for idea generation but also in co-creation and, above all, through evaluation and selection. The wisdom of the crowd acts to handpick top ideas via participants’ investments.

V. Committee’s approval: At the end of the cycle, the ideas that the crowd believes to be the best are taken for a closing evaluation by the steering committee. The committee decides on their implementation or non-implementation based on the feedback provided to the crowd.

VI. Time to auction: Participants can then redeem the credits they previously earned for real incentives. The redemption process is based on an auction mechanism – again, a gamified system – that recognises those who truly brought more value to the process.

Since people have different needs, the incentives available can address different motivations: from simple Amazon vouchers and charity donations to training in specific areas.

VII. Crowd tasking: After the final evaluation (V), implementation is ready to start. All are invited to join in and be recognised for their added-value participation. Ideas become projects, and successful projects can mean a higher return on investment.

VIII. A new game: A new cycle can begin.

The gamification mechanisms implemented by Exago’s solutions are a demonstrated way to boost management of innovation initiatives within a company or outside of it, delivering real results – be it increasing staff motivation, conquering customer loyalty or crafting new and innovative solutions.

(to be continued)

FROM THE START:
Gamifying innovation: How to engage your people in key business challenges

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s CEO and co-founder/ pdc@exago.com
Francisco Rhodes Sérgio, VP Inbound Strategy and Sales – Latin America / frs@exago.com

 

Gamifying innovation: all can play, all can win

Photo: Abigail Keenan@Unsplash

One of the recurring preconceptions to overcome in any innovation management effort is that only experts are able to innovate. In a sense, it’s someone else’s job, not mine. This makes it difficult to bring people into the process and keep them motivated throughout the journey.

Typical innovation processes also too often fail in their communication strategy, and this can compromise: the process; the confidence treat between organisers and participants (and the possibilities to efficiently use a bidirectional mechanism to reinforce alignment between both parts); as well as the value of the incentives provided.

Knowingly, a weak communication plan or the misalignment with participants’ desires tend to make incentives less efficient – more than any tighter budget ever could. Processes that aren’t inclusive (only the creative ones are able to participate) and weak recognition and rewarding systems (only best X ideas get a prize) are likewise frequent culprits of failure.

How can we, then, gamify the innovation process to make it more inclusive, attractive, enjoyable, efficient, transparent and sustainable? That’s exactly what we’ve done.

Making it work
Exago’s innovation management software and services use collective intelligence to solve key business challenges. Our model uses gamification mechanisms to sustainably engage participants, harnessing their knowledge. From cost reduction or customer engagement to behavioral change, we help companies unleash their people’s hidden potential to achieve real results.

Step by step, we prepare the organisation for the process, by defining a governance model, a communication plan, an incentives plan, and by assuring the alignment and commitment of the leadership with the process. And we make sure this preparation has consequences on the mid-long-run.

The best governance model or a great communication plan attract people to participate, a vast portfolio of incentives is a strong driver for engaging people, but if the process doesn´t meet expectations and desires, they’ll soon quit. The dynamics fades away.

Our solutions, therefore, are thought to:

  • Fulfil people’s desires;
  • Be inclusive, motivating different players’ profiles (remember Bartle Test framework?);
  • Be transparent, so that participants realise its rules and constraints;
  • Provide (immediate) feedback for people to remain engaged and understand how they can improve their participation;
  • Provide social interaction, since competition, sharing and collaboration are decisive stimuli for people to contribute;
  • Have clear incentives and recognition mechanisms;
  • And finally, to be entertaining.

Our solutions also welcome all kinds of people. The most typical behaviours remind us of the four gamer profiles:

  • The achievers are the ones who participate the most with ideas and comments to gather as many points as possible. They become huge contributors.
  • The 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.
  • The 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 the leaderboards.
  • Last, the killers love to compete for the sake of competition and 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.

CONTINUE READING:
How exactly do we gamify innovation?

FROM THE START:
Gamifying innovation: How to engage your people in key business challenges

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s CEO and co-founder/ pdc@exago.com
Francisco Rhodes Sérgio, VP Inbound Strategy and Sales – Latin America / frs@exago.com