Innovation Exploration – Unlocking Potential in Uncharted Territory
The great American oceanographer Edith Widder once said: “Exploration is the engine that drives innovation, and Innovation drives economic growth… So let’s all go exploring.” ? Of course, exploring unfamiliar territory – Edith herself participated in over 250 deep-sea dives– can often be a daunting proposition. However, with the right toolkit, training, and support, success becomes almost guaranteed. As the Head of Customer Success for Qmarkets, it’s my job to give our clients everything they need to explore the often-treacherous depths of corporate innovation with certainty and confidence.
As a leading supplier of idea management software, Qmarkets allows large organizations to gather, develop, evaluate, select, and implement ideas which can deliver bottom line value across the company. While this might sound simple enough, when you’re dealing with thousands of participants, hundreds of ideas, and dozens of unique workflows… things can sometimes get a bit complicated.
Of course, a sophisticated solution isn’t a problem for us – in fact, some might say it’s Qmarkets’ speciality. However, we understand the need for guidance and so we’ve developed a set of resources, practices, and principles to make sure our customers never feel lost. In this article, I’d like to focus on five of the most useful best-practices I’ve identified in my experience working on cutting-edge innovation management projects with leading companies across the globe. Let’s dive in!
Our 5 Innovation Best Practices for Launching Your Idea Management System
1. Wondering how to start? Firstly, don’t reinvent the wheel.
When starting out on an innovation initiative, it’s far better to make use of the resources you have at hand than to start totally from scratch – that is, it’s advisable to try to adopt lean practices wherever it’s possible. I know there may be instances where you need to incorporate cutting-edge technology or form strategic partnerships. However, building upon your current strengths will help you reach your goals in a quicker, more cost-effective way. Keep these factors in mind:
Your Past Successes: Look at previous company activities that engaged internal or external audiences, and consider how the successful aspects of these can be replicated for your launch. This will give you a clearer picture of what will get your innovation initiative off to the best possible start.
Your Participants: Consider how your current resources will enable you to tailor the message of your innovation project to different target audiences. You’ll need to assess how well equipped your enterprise is to tackle the barriers of language, geography, and culture when crowdsourcing ideas.
Your Scale: Depending on your current resources and corporate structure, it may be helpful to launch an idea management pilot that targets a specific audience. In my experience, I’ve found that this helps clients achieve results and achieve scalability with greater ease.
2. Feeling stuck? Remember, innovation is an ongoing process.
Having long-term goals for your innovation project is important. However, it’s equally important to recognize that reaching these goals often involves a slow and steady series of incremental – and adaptive – steps. I’ve found that as clients work on implementing incremental changes, their ideas for larger, overarching innovation efforts become more fleshed out.
A great example of the power of incremental innovation in action can be seen in the development of submarines for deep sea exploration, which I referenced in the opening paragraph. During the first half of the 19th century, most industries dismissed the bold idea of developing a workable underwater craft as a waste of time. After all, designs and prototypes for submersibles dated back as far as the 16th century, and none had produced any groundbreaking results. However, by remaining true to their vision and gradually incorporating emergent technologies – such as sonar and motor-powered propulsion devices – the early pioneers were able to bring their visions to life. The results led to major paradigm shifts in global politics, economics, and scientific exploration.
So, what lesson does this hold for corporate innovators? It reinforces just how important it is not to give up because you don’t see immediate results. If you lay the foundations for your project correctly, and gradually increase the scope to involve more participants, use-cases, and tools, you will be creating a path to success that is both safe and sustainable.
3. Got innovation trepidation? Don’t be afraid to embrace simplicity and enjoy the ride!
Tolstoy once said, “there is no greatness where there is no simplicity”, and this holds true when it comes to innovation best practices. I would like to stress that it’s often much more effective to implement a system that is tailored to your unique process than an intuitive but stock-standard approach. However, the simpler you make the phases of your initiative – from incentivizing the submission of ideas, to refining them for implementation – the more likely users will be to use your platform regularly.
Using the best-practice features of Qmarkets’ ideation platform will help you achieve this desired simplicity. However, here are a few additional steps that will make participating in any innovation initiative easier for users:
Establish a Well-Structured Training Process: It’s important to give your users quick access to relevant training resources (tutorial videos, manuals, etc) so they can use the platform to full effect.
Keep Your Workflows and Submission Forms Lean: By communicating your innovation challenge clearly and concisely, you are more likely to enhance the quality and quantity of ideas. Qmarkets software has features for the creation of custom submission forms to make the process simple. Qmarkets also enables you to add additional layers of configuration for more complex operations as you gain a better understanding of how your system will be used.
Make Collaboration Effortless: To easily filter the ideas with the most value – and promote user engagement – make use of the platform’s built-in voting features. This could involve implementing ‘thumbs up’ buttons or star-rating options.
4. Want to see results quickly? Harness the power of habit.
Using new technologies to power innovation is critical for securing a competitive edge. However, implementing an innovation platform doesn’t necessarily mean you have to dispense with the assets of your existing infrastructure.
If you have an existing portal or enterprise social network that your employees are familiar with, integrating these systems with your platform will help maximize engagement while also saving you the time and resources that might be spent on onboarding employees to a totally new system – once again, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel ?. For example, Qmarkets software easily integrates with enterprise social networks like Facebook Workplace, Jive and Yammer, as well as portal providers like SharePoint SAP NetWeaver.
I recommend leveraging all avenues of corporate communication –both online and offline– to promote your innovation platform and the initiatives run on it. This can involve everything from building the hype on company social media accounts, to sending company-wide emails and portal notifications, to placing flyers and posters in office common areas.
5. Worried about stagnation? Make the most of your momentum.
A successful platform launch is the first step towards boosting productive collaboration, improving employee engagement, and generating more ‘eureka!’ moments. However, if the day-to-day management of the campaigns on the platform are neglected, this initial momentum will soon be lost.
The following practices will help make sure your innovation platform yields continuing results:
Establish a Communication Plan: Ensure you regularly communicate innovation challenges to users in engaging ways (regular newsletter updates, ideation competitions, etc.).
Contribute to Discussions: Campaign managers should take as active a role as possible on the platform, regularly upvoting and commenting on ideas.
Acknowledge Achievements: Incentivize greater participation by rewarding the top contributors, or at least providing feedback to idea submitters who have not been successful.
By continuously promoting your platform as a go-to ideation resource – and not just another ‘one-off’ project – you’ll make the process of scaling up your innovation endeavours far smoother.
Qmarkets’ Customer Success Road Map – A Guaranteed Pathway to Innovation Excellence
Here at Qmarkets, we’ve always been committed to helping clients achieve major ROI from their platforms. That’s why we’re constantly building upon our customer success services to support them, regardless of what stage of their innovation journey they are at.
The following are just a few of the far-reaching offerings Qmarkets’ customers can expect.
✔ Expanded Webinars Covering Innovation Best Practices: Giving you easy access to winning strategies for getting the most out of your platform
✔ Embedded Tutorials: Guidance sections will soon be embedded on the platform, allowing your users to discover new features on-the-fly
✔ Video Tutorials: An efficient means to get you and your target users familiar with the core platform functions
✔ Qmarkets’ Open Innovation Community: A dedicated space for disseminating tips and best practices for crowdsourcing initiatives
With disruption posing a threat across every industry and geography, there has never been a more exciting – and pivotal – time for enterprise companies to concentrate their efforts on innovation. Thanks to the ongoing customer success services we provide at Qmarkets, it’s easier than ever to take the plunge with peace of mind.