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.

READ MORE:
Fighting for your audience? Take on the right incentives

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

FROM THE START:
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.

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

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.

READ MORE:
The ultimate innovation management success factor

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

The idea management challenge. How do they do it?

The Brazilian company Fleury – a leading provider of clinical analyses in Latin America – has currently more than 10,000 employees. All can participate in Fleury’s innovation efforts. In 2007, the company initiated a programme to encourage suggestions for how to improve its operations, allowing all employees to submit ideas on paper, which were then evaluated by an innovation committee. A software platform helped, in general, to collect ideas, supporting the programme.

But, the significant amount of work involved in evaluating these ideas led Fleury to consider an alternative. To optimise the process, in 2011, the Fleury group next adopted the Central de Ideias (Idea Market). Created by Exago, this innovation management solution is a software platform where all stakeholders can make their contributions – not only collecting and harnessing everyone’s ideas but also evaluating them.

Within a single year, the results overtook even the most ambitious targets:

  • Ideas submitted – escalating from 1,809, in 2011, to 7,269, in 2012, when the new model was implemented (an increase of more than 400%)
  • Ideas approved – more than doubling, from 443 to 946
  • Ideas implemented – increasing from 225 to 300
  • Stakeholders involved – growing from 712 to 3,309 people (and 15 months after implementing and disseminating Exago’s model, more than 70% of Fleury’s staff had actively joined in).

Fleury’s innovations have generated millions of reais in value. They’ve reduced operating costs and introduced more efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly processes. So far this year, almost 8,000 participants are still interconnected and actively participating, and 600 ideas have come to life. People have become the centre of Fleury’s culture of innovation.

In this way, the company has managed to tackle the three central challenges identified above: to create high levels of mobilisation and engagement, to be extremely efficient in the process of idea evaluation and to sustain high levels of participation over time (i.e. avoiding creating an initial peak followed by a drastic fall in participation).

At Exago, we’ve worked with extraordinary clients, such as Fleury, and others from pharmaceutical, banking, utilities and telecommunications industries – across four continents – to help them mobilise targeted communities to solve key business problems by learning from them and with them. What do we then believe to be the 3 key success factors of innovation management? We’ll see that next.

READ MORE:
The first of 3 key success factors of innovation management

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

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

A little over a year after implementing a new innovation management solution, participation at Fleury was nearly five times higher. This real company has generated real value through innovation. What can you learn from their experience? No single secret software and algorithm opens all doors, yet, by combining the right ingredients, you too can unlock the full potential of your innovation initiative.

If you’re implementing a programme, particularly ‘idea platform’ or open innovation solutions on a national or international scale, you can expect ups and downs. Road bumps come with the territory. Any innovation manager has felt some (or all) of these anxieties:

We’ve built it . . . but no one’s coming.
You have your programme in place, you’re filled with energy to make it happen, but no one joins you. You’ve hit the most challenging of all walls: a lack of engagement. For things to work, you need to have your people with you. How do you engage them and their enthusiasm? How do you increase the stickiness of your innovation efforts?

We’ve created a process monster.
On the other end, if you’re lucky, you’ll attract many people, creating high volumes of information – too high to be handled by any single manager or even an innovation team. All of a sudden, you find yourself trapped inside processes rather than creating value. Instead of having an engine that lets you focus on bringing the best ideas to life, you’ve become a slave to the machine – and you’re all too aware that this lack of efficiency will end up killing the engagement you’ve captured.

So, you need a model that can process all content generated in the platform – ideas, insights, comments and investments – rapidly and efficiently.

One way but down.
Finally, you’ve had your one success, but the budget is inelastic and enthusiasm begins to fade. How can you make sure your programme continues to deliver results?

Countless ‘traditional’ innovation programmes actually fail. The causes are diverse but diagnosable as:
// The programme is not inclusive – you can only participate if you have an idea.
// It lacks focus – you haven’t established the scope of relevance.
// Evaluation is inefficient – you’re wasting time and money.
// Incentives are unbalanced – you have too many or too few.
// Results are cloudy – only a few people are involved in the process of evaluating the suggestions of the ‘crowd’.
// The process requires facilitation – your software can’t stand by itself alone.

READ MORE:
The idea management challenge. How do they do it?
The first of 3 key success factors of innovation management
The 2nd key success factor of innovation management
The ultimate innovation management success factor
What we’ve learned about the idea management challenge

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