Having a well-defined innovation strategy is more important than ever. To keep up with the modern professional landscape, companies must create an innovation culture that constantly looks for new ways to meet the needs of the customer. One way to do that is through crowdsourced innovation.
There’s going to be a time when you don’t have all the answers. It happens to every company at some point or another. Executives and stakeholders can lose touch with their customer base and, despite their best efforts, fail to innovate. The good news is that you can prevent this slump from happening by looking for ideas beyond the boardroom, crowdsourcing employees, partners, and customers for innovative ideas and solutions.
In this article, we’re going to look at crowdsourced innovation and how it can enhance your organization.
Crowdsourcing Innovation Effectively
Innovation drives companies into the future. According to a survey by McKinsey & Company, a whopping 84% of CEOs believe that innovation is one of the most important components of a successful growth strategy.
But recognizing the importance of innovation and actually innovating are two different things. Ask any executive what their biggest concern is, and the majority of them will say it’s coming up with new, innovative ideas. Most CEOs are struggling with developing a well-defined innovation strategy that can help them bring their company forward.
This is where crowdsourced innovation can help. And believe it or not, most organizations already use it—just not as effectively as they should. You might see it in the form of a suggestion box or an annual company meeting, but neither of these efforts really tap into the wisdom of their employees and make them a core part of the innovation strategy.
So, how do you use crowdsourced innovation effectively?
It all starts with a plan. A well-defined innovation strategy that:
- Is scalable across participants and geographical location.
- Is managed and measured.
- Employs multiple techniques and approaches.
- Uses technology to deliver maximum efficiency.
- Is woven into the fabric of your company.
- Connects to your organization’s ecosystem.
Innovation must be a collaborative effort that everyone within your organization contributes to. As such, employee engagement acts as an essential ingredient for creating a culture of innovation within your organization. Once you’re able to partner with employees and capture their ideas and solutions, you can use these ideas to enhance your organization in every possible way.
Here are some suggestions to get started.
Look Outside the Box
The silo mentality is one of the biggest obstacles between companies and continuous innovation. It restricts the flow of information and ideas throughout the organization, preventing teams from learning other perspectives and gaining valuable insights outside their group.
Just how detrimental are silos to your culture of innovation?
We surveyed program managers in various industries and found that 31% of their solutions came from outside of the assigned group. That’s nearly one-third of a company’s ideas and solutions, which probably wouldn’t have been implemented had innovation been confined to departmental silos.
But crowdsourced innovation doesn’t have to be confined to employees within your organization. Customers, suppliers, and strategic partners are all excellent sources for finding ideas and solutions. You can even collaborate with your competitors to innovate and create maximum value that you both can benefit from. Yes, you read that right. Partnering with competitors is known as coopetition and it’s a real and effective collaboration tool.
Turning Ideas into a Reality
You’ve crowdsourced innovation and gathered some excellent ideas. Now it’s time to actually implement those ideas. Of course, this is easier said than done. Too many times have companies implemented changes, only for them to fizzle out once the newness wears off.
How do you maintain enthusiasm and see your ideas transform into innovations?
For starters, you should track the progress of ideas throughout their life cycle, following their progress from start to finish. One way you can do this is by looking at the value your ideas bring to your organization, measuring:
- Indirect value: Value in the form of improved behaviors and attitudes. Things like culture change and improved employee engagement.
- Direct financial value: Value that can be measured monetarily, looking at things like profit and revenue. Metrics like reduced cost or how new features impact your bottom line are other examples.
Along with that, it’s also important to remember that innovation is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone, from the chief executives to the employees working on the ground, have an equal share in driving innovation across your company. And this works best when crowdsourced innovation is approached as a means to transform the company’s culture, rather than a method of simply churning out ideas and solutions.
Finally, you need to leverage technology to ensure that ideas and solutions are captured and shared across your organization. You can do this with the help of an innovation management platform like Planview® Spigit.
Here are a few examples of how a crowdsourced innovation platform can bring value to companies:
- A global aerospace manufacturer reduced maintenance costs and times and improve customer experience. A professional accountant in the finance department came up with the idea of using endoscopes to inspect engines. This ended up cutting maintenance costs by 85% and reducing inspection times from eight hours to one hour.
- A Fortune 500 consumer packaged goods company used crowdsourced innovation to help with coming up with ideas for saving money. They ended up finding an opportunity to cut costs by $10 million as a result.
- A healthcare insurance company created a culture of innovation that set out to transform and disrupt the industry. Leveraging innovation management software, they created $180 million in new revenue and added six new companies to their portfolio in a three-year period.
The right innovation management software empowers organizations to crowdsource innovation from employees, customers, partners, and anyone else who can bring value to your company. You can then choose the best ideas that align with your business objectives and track their performance through all stages of the idea pipeline. That way, you can assess the effectiveness of your innovation strategy, as well as identify various areas you can tweak to help you reach your business goals.
Learn more about crowdsourced innovation and how you can use it to inspire your organization by watching the Crowdsourced Innovation in the Real World webinar. You can also visit the Planview Spigit website to learn more about Spigit and how it’s helped hundreds of companies around the world adopt a culture of innovation.