Exago’s team puts creativity at play at Productized Conference

From 19 to 21 October, our services team is joining managers, designers and product leaders from around the world at Productized Conference, taking place at Lisbon Congress Centre. In three days of ‘insightful workshops and inspiring talks’, participants are working and discovering together what it means to create and manage cutting-edge products. David Fradin, former project management at Apple and HP, and Bruce Nussbaum, one of the world’s top Design Thinking advocates, are among the invited speakers.

‘Service Design Crash Course’, ‘Accelerating UX’, ‘Building insanely great products’ and ‘VCW – Value Creation Wheel®: Be the owner of the best solution’ are some of the workshops Exago’s team is taking part in. ‘We are here to shake up and challenge our creativity and get fully equipped to improve our services and product offer’, says Francisco Bernardes, Exago’s head of Innovation Services.

Know more on the conference here.

Exago at INDEG’s Executive MBA

Why is collaborative innovation imperative for companies today? Exago’s CEO, Diana Neves de Carvalho, met with students from the INDEG-ISCTE Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) programme, in Lisbon, to debate innovation management’s main challenges and opportunities for businesses. Diana also shared insights into how to ensure success in implementing idea management software, based on customer examples.

‘Incremental collaborative innovation is a cornerstone of any resilient innovation programme, offering many possible focus applications: from process, product and service improvement to customer experience enhancement, cost optimisation and digitisation of core business,’ Exago’s CEO told the audience. She also explained how idea management software can be a powerful lever in this process ‘if well-tuned to a company’s innovation maturity level’, and by incorporating the wisdom of crowds and a predictive market mechanism.

Diana was invited to present real case studies, share insights and discuss the potential of innovation management solutions for companies. Isabel Caetano, who teaches innovation management classes in the EMBA, further underlined how ‘innovation management is a crucial competence to improve our students’ ability to nurture an innovative organisation, as well as to enable a more global career’.

Now in its thirteenth edition, the INDEG-ISCTE EMBA gives its graduates the skills to reach leadership positions and leverage their organisations through value creation and business development. INDEG-ISCTE was the first business school in Portugal, and it is a leader in executive education, with several MBA programmes well positioned in global rankings.

In 2015, INDEG-ISCTE also launched its Executive Master in Innovation Management, in partnership with CTT, R&D Nester, Siemens and VORTAL – this year joined by Nokia. The programme is designed for innovators, professionals and entrepreneurs seeking to develop a more structured approach to driving innovation towards value creation.

How to conquer your audience

Giving you easy access to new sources of innovation, open innovation practices allow you to ask different questions of different communities. As we’ve seen, many companies are embracing these initiatives. More will do the same soon.

So, how can you capture a big enough audience? How can you make sure it is the right audience for your challenge? And, how can you keep participants engaged until you achieve real outcomes?

The solution is to craft your initiatives carefully. You need to maximise your target community’s contribution, taking into account relevance, incentives, communication and good process governance, as I explain next.

1. Find relevance
Many companies have launched ‘suggestion box’ websites, where hundreds, even thousands, of customers can leave their insights. This may seem an easy way to get free ideas. But beware.

How will you decide which ones to implement? Most ideas may prove utterly irrelevant to your business and you’ll strongly affect your returns if you fail to find significance.

Therefore, you have to align your open innovation challenges with your strategic business needs and priorities. To make your efforts worthwhile, you and your leadership team have to define clear timelines and goals, both tangible (projects, ideas and so on) and intangible (culture, positioning, collaboration behaviours and more).

You must not only establish specific and relevant purposes beforehand but also engage those who identify with your cause. Contributors need to share an intellectual and emotional commitment. They have to believe they’ll have an impact on the ability to provide value and have a stake in the value produced.

You should also ponder on Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), pre-establishing a disclaimer/ agreement for idea ownership. IPRs are designed usually to exclude others from using your ideas. So you have to learn how to reconcile the need to assure idea ownership with the need to attract insights from beyond your company’s boundaries. Legal counselling is also advisable.

Fighting for your audience? Take on the right incentives

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s co-founder/ pdc@exago.com

Open innovation and the fight for your audience

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.

What we’ve learned about the idea management challenge

Can you master the 3 key success factors of innovation management?

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

The 2nd key success factor of innovation management

When developing your innovation initiatives, you too often run the risk of getting trapped inside processes rather than creating value. Technicalities and bureaucracies enslave you, absorbing your energies and leaving little time to make things happen. We’ve seen than your people’s engagement is critical, but so is process efficiency.

We’ve learned that the wisdom of your crowd is invaluable to make your efforts effective. In his book, The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few, James Surowiecki explains that, ‘under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent and are often smarter than the smartest people in them.’ This means that your organisation can find the answers to many of its current challenges by harnessing your people’s ideas and experience.

Your people need to trust the process and get constant feedback. The procedures have to be clear, from idea generation through to content validation and idea evaluation, selection, crowdsourcing, implementation and acceleration – based on task bidding to identify the most appropriate resources. Only then can you have true peer collaboration. Exago makes sure this runs smoothly.

Different evaluation mechanisms, such as voting, multidimensional rating and prediction markets allow for a more proficient process, as well. We have adopted a sophisticated model of prediction markets that generates, screens and selects ideas. Processing high volumes of information, these prediction markets are the most efficient and transparent way to select the best contributions out of the vast array submitted by participants in idea management platforms.

The US Patent Office has officially patented our ‘System and method for adjusting asset value and availability in data records, for mitigating speculative trading in a prediction market’. This model encourages relevant participation and promotes the best process output in idea management initiatives.

But there’s a third key success factor of innovation management. We’ll see that next.

The ultimate innovation management success factor

Can you master the 3 key success factors of innovation management?

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