Defining goals is critical to running successful ideation challenges. This may seem like an obvious statement, but it’s not uncommon to skip or rush through this crucial step when creating challenges.
I’ve been working with several ideation program managers recently to launch their first crowdsourcing challenge and noticed that many try to bypass the step of defining goals.
Some think they can bypass goals for their challenges because they know (in their minds) what they want to achieve. Others have a hard time articulating a quantifiable success measure and want to give up.
At Planview IdeaPlace, we help some of the most successful companies in the world drive their innovation agenda and create cultures of innovation through ideation. We’re fortunate to have a behind the scenes look at what works and what doesn’t.
When it comes to defining goals, the best practice is to start with a goals template to help challenge sponsors document their objectives, success measures and specific targets which then crystallizes into a clear challenge topic and problem statement.
My experience shows that setting clearly defined goals is a critical task in ensuring alignment and desired results for the following reasons.
Reason #1: Goals help prioritize topics if you’re trying to decide between multiple topic areas.
For example, if you have a list of problems based on your strategic roadmap, you may want to start with the area that will generate the most value or high visibility impact.
Reason #2: Goals force you to think deeply about why you’re using a crowd-based method.
Like any project or strategic initiative, it’s important to understand why you’re spending time on this activity. It helps to keep yourself and the relevant stakeholders motivated when everyone is clear on the rationale and ultimate benefit that will be gained.
As you open up challenges to broader audiences, it’s necessary to set clear expectations and provide transparency all along the way. You want to convey the importance of tapping into the unique perspectives and experiences that each individual can bring to this challenge topic. I’ve also found that in taking the time to do this, most clients have a clearer picture in their minds which allows them to make decisions and/or answer questions faster.
Reason #3: Goals provide purpose for the challenge.
There’s a myth about innovation and ideation that people will be more creative when there are no boundaries or limits, but that can be overwhelming for the average employee. In fact, one of the key drivers of engagement is purpose and knowing that you’re contributing to a meaningful goal.
As a final check, I suggest seeing how the challenge topic links back to the company’s strategic priorities or corporate values. This helps unify the messaging and demonstrate how the ideation program supports the overall enterprise culture. By clearly defining the objective, target and success measure, I’ve witnessed higher participation rates and increases in overall employee engagement.
Reason #4: Goals serve as a target to aim for.
In this busy world, we need a way to cut through the clutter and stay focused on what’s important. A related exercise, once the goals are articulated, is to list out all the tactics that will help you achieve them. Make sure to consider potential obstacles or roadblocks that you will want to tackle as early as possible. For example, if you know that fear of failure is part of your culture, you can incorporate messages about rewarding and encouraging risk-taking behaviors.
A final tip, is to check your completed goals template throughout the challenge planning process to make sure you’re decisions are staying true to the stated objectives. Launching broad crowdsourced ideation challenges is new to most enterprises and this planning task can set the tone for a clear and compelling message for all participants.
Maggie Riad is the VP of Strategic Services at Planview IdeaPlace