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.

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A colourful idea increases the quality of customer service

“Check the yellow cable connection, please” – by simply changing the colours of the cables, set-top-boxes and routers, Portugal Telecom (PT) was able to effectively simplify procedures and improve the quality of its customer service. It became easy to promptly and remotely identify the source of different problems by just asking the client to follow colour-oriented instructions.

The idea is one of the many that was suggested, evaluated by all and chosen to be developed and implemented in the “Idea Market” platform, a tool tailored by Exago to engage PT’s employees in collectively creating innovative solutions for the company. Almost 10.000 employees have participated, more than 14.000 thousands ideas were registered, a little over 3.000 passed the validation stage and nearly a hundred were implemented or are in the development stage.

Since its adoption in march 2009, “Idea Market” has had a very important impact on employees’ satisfaction rank, empowering them, while providing a decentralized, transparent and democratic network to voice their creativity.

Innovation has long been a part of Portugal Telecom’s DNA, one of the most traded stocks in Euronext Lisbon and national leader in telecommunications, often referenced for its strong contributions to the progress of the Information Society. Exago’s customized “Idea Market” has become a fundamental tool to support this process, with a solution that is highly engaging, highly efficient and sustainable over time.

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Idea Market – rejecting ideas through market devaluation

Not every idea submitted in Idea Market is worth implementing. Some ideas need improvement because they lack feasibility while others simply don’t have the potential or scope to succeed. Accordingly some ideas should be appraised negatively so that their true value is reflected.

In Idea Market participants can do exactly this. Should an idea unfit for implementation be submitted users may invest in the opposite direction. This extremely important feature enhances market efficiency through uncovering hidden knowledge while reducing hierarchical analysis costs by filtering out ideas that are low quality or need improvement.

This concept is not unlike short-selling in financial markets. If an investor believes that a specific asset is overvalued he may short it at the present market price, buying it at a lower price in the future and therefore making money – winning credits in Idea Market – when the price decreases.

It’s worth noting that there is a degree of risk when investing in ideas on the Exago platform. This was specifically implemented so that participants assess carefully and only invest in the best ideas. By constraining their money supply the participant is discouraged to invest randomly as doing so would generate continually upward-moving ideas and therefore risk-free profits by buying up every new idea on the market.

Idea Market – validating ideas

Individuals who use Idea Market contribute with ideas that are then channeled through a predictive market system driven by the collective intelligence of individuals. Participants are motivated to create innovative solutions for their companies and are driven by recognition and material incentives. By interacting with each other and selecting the ideas that are viable and have the most impact, innovation initiatives are driven forward.

The cornerstone of success in this process is the hierarchical validation stage which immediately follows crowd assessment. Managers with decision making power are able to select the best ideas and fast track them to implementation. This process – which may otherwise be extremely complex – is simplified by the efficient filter of collective intelligence.

While similar, there are critical differences between predictive and financial markets. Keynes (1936) metaphorically referred to financial markets as a “beauty contest” where investors trade on the basis of what one thinks others think. In financial markets there is no a posteriori validation of the quality of an asset, therefore some investors go with the flow and try to react rapidly to changes in expectations (short-term market timers are included in this group). Conversely buy-and-hold investors can be an example of people waiting for an implicit “second-stage validation” with good rates of return and dividends. This is where predictive markets and financial markets meet.

With Idea Market, the goal is for a participant to invest in the best ideas (according to his own personal belief) and hold his investment (unless he thinks that at a certain time the idea is overvalued and a correction is needed) until the implementation decision.

It should be ensured that incentives for the subsequent implementation of ideas have more weight than in-market incentives. Keeping to this rule will ensure that participants meet the primary objective of Idea Market: to create value. As per the above discussion we see this is a stark difference from the standard beauty contest of picking the most popular ideas.