Friday, December 24, 2010

Architecting an A-Ha ecosystem

"An A-Ha" moment - for a problem that you have been grappling with for a long time. Interestingly the solution once arrived at, starts to look like a obvious one, and you wonder why you didn't think of it before. Enterprises all over the world are interested in institutionalising this and so wonder "Can we make the A-ha moment repeatable and produce it at will?" Of course, it is not possible to architect these moments, but instead you can architect an ecosystem which can foster these moments.

Depending on your enterprise DNA, there are various steps you can take, we describe some below to pick from.

Maintain inventory of problems – Most organizations miss this step. They might have KM system to capture the knowledge and idea management to capture the ideas but there are few enterprises that maintain a list of problems. This when carefully planned, pays by providing road map for enterprise innovation.

Creativity attracts creativity – Be innovative in how you approach the process of getting your problems solved. Idea boxes may not be the best way to go, instead illustrative challenge definition is one way of telling others that you are looking forward to and are serious about the solutions.

Break hierarchical model of problem solving – A problem does not need to be solved by the lead scientist or by someone who has tendency to come up with ideas. Find ways to democratise the innovation process. However don’t attempt this unless you create a buy in from R&D folks and the management.

Onboard the ‘A-ha’ moment owner - Dare him to expand on the idea and as far as possible and bring him onboard when you take the idea forward. It’s nice to make deserving person feel important. Not only will this add value in rolling out the solution but will also send an immensely positive message to others to ideate for you in the future.

Think about it, how many precious sparks might have faded and how many are about to meet the same fate. The least enterprises can do is to provide an ecosystem which enables a-ha moments to arrive, and assure proper treatment, when they do arrive.

ideaken helps enterprises build this ecosystem of collaborative innovation.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What can innovation seeking enterprises DO with LEGO set manuals?

LEGO pieces can be converted into far more variety of structures in addition to what is given in its manual. The outcome is usually unusual, and ranges from having no significant beauty to having an extraordinary beauty which has not been created before; and an originality which could carry a class and a value of its own.

Seems quite obvious. Let’s examine it a little closer and see what goes on to make this obvious - the obvious.

1) The child or a parent needs to think that maybe she should try to build something without referring the manual. (Innovative organizations always have involved leadership who understands the unstructured nature of creativity and facilitate this direction.)

2) The child might behave clueless at first, but show him once even the three piece structure done without the manual and see how she takes it further from there. (Besides providing vision, leaders know the importance of enablement.)

3) You won’t fail to notice the pride in her voice when she finally shows it to you. (It is of utmost importance to encourage and reward the effort, in however small or insignificant ways.)

4) You have kept the manual and she does refer it for the fundamentals like - what fits where, once in a while. (Building innovation culture efforts does not need to change the ways you run your company, however it might need a tweak here and a tweak there.)

Hiding them occasionally is what innovation seeking enterprises can DO with the LEGO set manuals.

ideaken team can help your enterprise in planning & implementing points 2,3 and 4 mentioned above and benefit from the power of co-creation and open innovation.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

FINISH uses crowd sourcing to find solutions for Indian sanitation problem

ideaken's journey with FINISH began with a chance meeting over the internet. However as we have continued our journey, we have been humbled to meet some great people who are committed to the cause of total sanitation system in rural India. We are proud to be associated with FINISH and sincerely hope that the ideaken platform helps FINISH to meet their noble and worthy objective.

A search for a rural toilet design begins on 19th Nov – the World Toilet Day

FINISH is launching an “innovation contest” to create new and improved sanitation systems for rural India, with rewards up to Rs. 620,000 (or 10,000 Euros) is up for grab. The contest is being launched on World Toilet Day - 19th Nov 2010. FINISH will incorporate the best innovations generated by the contest in thousands of toilets being installed in rural India under its programme.

November 17, 2010 - India / Netherlands / France
It is often said that Safe Sanitation Systems form the last chapter of human development. 1 in every 4 person in the world does not have access to Sanitation. India is a prime illustration.
Indian Space scientists have put machines on the moon, yet 1 in every 2 Indians does not have access to toilets. Everyday 638 million people or about 50% of the population in India resort to open defecation.

There has been progress, from the “Central Rural Sanitation Programme”, which was initiated in 1988 by the Government of India, to the “Total Sanitation Campaign” launched in the year 1999. However, according to the 2010 report by UNICEF, on progress in sanitation coverage, even in 2008, 69% of rural Indian population did not have access to toilets.
All private and public sanitation drives suffer from some common problems.
  1. The quality of constructed toilets is very poor due to budgetary or time constraints.
  2. Toilet designs are often not appropriate for the targeted ecological terrain.
  3. A lack of clearly defined “standards” for toilet design is leading to toilets that pollute the environment.
  4. Stakeholders do not have adequate awareness and knowledge of sustainable sanitation models.

The FINISH ‘Sanitation Challenge Contest’ is a serious attempt to find solutions to some of above problems. FINISH, which stands for Financial INclusion Improves Sanitation and Health, with the help of - a collaborative innovation platform provider and other network partners – WASTE, FIN Trust, Ethos India and the World Toilet Organisation have launched an innovation competition to generate new designs in sanitation systems.

The contest is open to all individuals and institutions. Its objective is to arrive at significant, even revolutionary improvements in toilet design, and safe disposal system, specifically suited to different climatic, soil, water table conditions, which will ensure sustainable and safe management of the human waste. This new toilet design will be used to diffuse 1 million safe toilets in India.

The 3rd toilet was constructed by the NGO even though 2 unused toilets already stand in the same house.” (This tells us that just building toilets won’t solve the issue)

You can help too

Please diffuse this news to sources you think can contribute to designing this new sanitation system. (Including but not limited to social media sites, news sources, NGOs, SMEs in Sanitation, WC/ Restroom and waste management areas, and Engineering and Design crowd)

Please click here to participate in the contest

Please click here to view complete press release

Monday, November 8, 2010

A slice of new products and services via vendor co-creation

Beside your enterprise and your customers, there is a rich layer of vendors your enterprise deals with. You deal with these vendors as they fulfill certain purposes of your business. Invariably these vendors develop fertile characteristics which are a mix of deep understanding of your business, solid technical know how and awareness of what else is happening in the industry you operate in.

Above attributes put your vendors in a unique position which you may not like to ignore.

There are various ways you could benefit from this, and the most promising could be how you could tap into this relevant talent beyond your primary reason of engaging with these vendors. For example you might be dealing with your vendors to provide you with a spare part, raw material, a particular service or a piece of software. Now is there a way you could tap into the peripheral talent of these vendors and their employees to add credible value to the tasks which you do in-house?

Obviously the first question to ask and to figure out is if your enterprise has such vendors; with whom you have been dealing with for a while, and over the years have developed a potential which could be tapped?

Second important question to ask is – is it possible to tap into this talent without being intrusive with your vendor’s talent and w/o violating contractual or IP issues. Part of the answer for this question could be to do this co-creation along with the existing projects / contracts. When co-creation is done as part of bigger engagement, it has a lesser chance of being looked as intrusive. When co-creation is implemented with a clear purpose, IP issues could be addressed upfront and hence managed better.

Clients have been always asking for additional value (and that additional slide on value proposition has been part of your selling deck ever since), now it appears that clients have started to look into more systematic ways of getting there, and vendor co-creation seems to be paving the way for it.

As a vendor, being partner in co-creation can add a tremendous differentiators, which can help you create client stickiness you always welcome, and a value proposition which can elevate your bid vis-à-vis your competition.

As usual only a win-win proposition stand a chance, both you as a vendor to your client, and you as a client to your vendor can benefit from Vendor co-creation.

This article is inspired by my recent discussion with Vikesh Mehta, General Manager Enterprise innovation and Pavan Soni, innovation evangelist at Wipro Technologies.

Thursday, October 21, 2010 and partnership aims to place Asia onto the Innovation World Map

Two years back, when ideaken team was doing their business planning, we had listed as one of our top competitions! Today we are glad to partner with  –  Jayesh and partnership aims to place Asia onto the Innovation World Map

India / USA 21 Oct 2010 - and today announced a partnership to jointly scout innovative solutions from individuals and technology SMEs for their enterprise clients.

Open innovation and Co-creation is the fastest emerging way to procure & supply innovation in a world of diminishing boundaries. This partnership will help both and to expand their innovator solver base and get faster and better solutions for their enterprise clients. This partnership will also provide a greater opportunity for individual innovators and technology SMEs to access bigger market of innovation seekers from around the world.

Head quartered in US, is world’s largest intellectual property exchange. is a leading open innovation intermediary and co-creation platform provider in Asia.

Dr. Eugene Buff, Vice President of Consulting for, said, “Asia is a developing powerhouse of innovation that is of immense importance to the rest of the world. It’s also one of the world’s great markets for technology. is very happy to be partnering with an organization of ideaken’s stature.”

“We look forward to a long partnership with ideaken,” said Ben DuPont, president and co-founder of “Innovation is not regional. Developments from Bangalore or Delhi can easily find their way to the shelves of New York or Tokyo, just as innovations from Berlin or Johannesburg may help companies in Bangalore. Organizations like ideaken and exist to make these connections happen.”

Jayesh Badani, Founder and CEO of ideaken said “ and are in the business of tapping into innovative technology providers who are somewhere out there. It makes lot of sense to join forces and create a larger community of innovation seekers and innovation solvers, everybody wins this way. We help our clients collaborate to innovate; this partnership is about applying this principle to ourselves!”

Please click here to view complete press release

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How to get ideas that are not 'a dime a dozen'?

Today, every enterprise has or plans to have some sort of an idea management initiative to capture the ideas of their employees and customers.  This could be because of a very strategic vision or the result of the hype about tapping into the wisdom of employees & customers. Some have mastered the art, but the rest end up being me too. Throughputs - some get as many as 150,000 ideas in a year and some just 15 from the same number of employees and customers. The effectiveness is equally extreme; some making real money from it and it becoming a main stream process for them, while others are completely clueless about the direction to navigate into.

Question is how organizations get hold of ideas that can elevate them to the next level, help them create a service or a product that could define a new market. In other words how do organizations harvest ideas which can make substantial & positive difference to the organizations’ objectives?

Part of  the answer lies in following two strategies, this is with an assumption that all other operational aspects are taken care.

Before you ask for ideas
  • Shift your pitch from “Do you have an idea  ... “ to “Do you have an idea FOR  ...” Basically shift your pitch from generally asking for any idea to asking for an idea for a given challenge.
  • If you can’t think of a challenge then run a challenge to find a challenge, you will be surprised how many you unearth!
  • Stop behaving like you have the right to ask for ideas, instead create an atmosphere of co-creation.
  • If you do not genuinely intend to read each of the ideas received and try to figure out the intent behind each idea then stop right here (It saves your time, yes theirs too!). Often the intent of the idea provider will lead you to the ideas you are after. 
After you get the ideas
  • Lookout for the possibility of combining two not so good ideas to get the good one out of it. Or pick up the clue to make the not so good one, a really good one.
  • Make the review team a mix of someone who could see the bigger picture and also someone who may not. 
  • Refrain from judging the idea on the basis of how easy or difficult it is to implement it.
  • Look at the act of rewarding the person with a good idea as an act of encouraging the innovation spirit and not as an act of buying out the idea.
In short addressing the points relevant to your enterprise from list above, a well defined challenge with an incentive and a committed evaluation team could fetch you ideas which are not a dime dozen.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Enterprise Culture & Enterprise Productivity, what is the connection?

Enterprises wanting to improve the productivity will typically show the signs of Six sigma and Lean. Six sigma and Lean are great tools and they produce great results, the only catch is they do so when in the right hands. The real power of these tools is to create the right culture, a culture of measurement and improvement; productivity improvement is the by-product which usually follows.

Similarly, when you want your employees to be innovative, don’t go and ask them to be innovative, create a culture for it, nurture the ecosystem, the results will soon be visible.
An enterprise which is on the path of creating this innovative culture for their employee shows the following signs.

1. They often provide opportunities to employees, which convey that the management trusts the employees.
2. Some of these opportunities are given away to all at the same time irrespective of the levels or grades of the employee.
3. There is a genuine public encouragement displayed and conveyed for every failed attempt in trying to do something new. (and the same for a successful outcome!)
4. These companies have established the connection between employee satisfaction and in providing an opportunity to express the creativity.
5. They are putting up systems and processes in place to actually take the ideas and solutions forward and benefit from it.

There is increasing evidence that an outlet for employee creativity can add to employee satisfaction and the productivity, over and above the employer benefits from implementing the employee ideas and solutions.

More enterprises are joining the league, creating an innovative culture for their employee. In this list of signs and the league, which stage are you in?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Anatomy of Rewards!

Innovators innovate for the passion of innovating, yes that is true. Then why give away rewards?

Between the guy who won’t innovate for you and the guy who will anyway innovate, there are a large number of people who are capable of innovating. To get the attention of this large number of people - you need upfront mentioning of reward. And for the guy who will anyway innovate, it is one way of saying ’you care’.

How much should be the reward?

This does not matter as long as you make it in some way proportionate to the benefit you will derive from the innovation. There is no right or wrong answer for what should be the proportion, the key is that you value the contribution and you are being fair. The best way to get the answer is ask these questions a) Will you yourself work on it for the given reward b) What is the innovation budget?, and c) How much will it cost me if I get it done from a third party innovation firm?

Having found how much I should reward, how do I decide between monetary and non-monetary rewards?

Monetary rewards are quite a safe bet in most of the cases. However if you decide to go with non-monetary rewards like fully paid vacation for two, then you must make sure that the winner is able to use it without any additional cost. Similarly if you are rewarding a Gadget, then you must consider how you will transport it to the winner. It is best to choose the non monetary rewards like Amazon gift coupons which are redeemable from anywhere in the world.

I am only partially satisfied with the solution and I like more than one solutions.

It is likely. Award partially and distribute it among the top three solution providers.

Should I distribute the reward to all who participate, this way I can be safe from any conflicts?

Once, to prove the issues with socialism, a professor agreed to average the grades. After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test results rolled out, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little. By the time 4th test rolled around, the average was D. When reward for merit is taken away, no one will try or want to succeed.

The greatest indirect benefit of giving away rewards is, it builds trust and curiosity, both of which can immensely help in your subsequent innovation challenge.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

RESULTS = function (SOMETHINGS), here are few SOMETHINGS for an Open Innovation Seeker

The more we participate in the challenge definition exercises for our clients, the more we learn about what works and what could be improved.

In our endeavor to share the learning on how the best results could be achieved for an open innovation or co-creation challenge, below is the checklist cum scorecard for innovation seeker.

Checklist for an open innovation seekerYes = 1
No = 0
1. Did more than two individuals, not reporting to each other, have a say in formulating your innovation challenge?
2. Did seeker team discuss what would be their plan of action if they end up getting what they are requesting from the solvers? (Doing this upfront can seriously alter how you go about executing the solution seeking)
3. Is your reward (monetary, non monetary or both) proportionate in some way to effort required by solvers?
4. Does your promotion campaign for current challenge leverage the positive memories of previous challenge run by your enterprise?
5. Does your challenge clearly mention the "must meet" expectations and the "solution evaluation criteria"?
6. Do you have a plan for monitoring progress of your challenge and promoting it accordingly?
7. Have you given a thought around NOT making challenge duration too short (that you can't reach out to right solvers) or too long (that solvers postpone solving it)?
8. Is your challenge title to the point and convey what you are expecting in very direct words?
9. Does your solver composition plan for a given challenge include solver diversity with respect to skill set, age group and geo?
10. Do you have upfront time commitment from innovation sponsor & designated reviewers for evaluating the outcome?
11. Did you test how a typical solver might perceive your challenge brief? (Get your challenge reviewed by at least 2 independent reviewers, who have no clue whatsoever on what you are after before reading the brief)
12. Is your innovation seeker team prepared to tolerate people and ideas "worse than theirs", "as good as theirs" and "better than theirs"?
13. Open innovation will throw some bad ideas at you, is your innovation seeker team ready to trash those ideas without creating an opinion of any sort?
14. Has your innovation seeker team gone past "not invented here" mind block and embracing "proudly found elsewhere" culture?
15. Is your innovation seeker team agreeable that they may not always receive exact blue print of a solution and they might have to take the ideas received to the next level?
16. Is your innovation seeker team committed to NOT use any ideas or solution received without compensating and acknowledging the idea or solution submitter?

We leave it to you to interpret your score, just in case you ask us our opinion, it would be as follows.

Score 13-16 You are doing great
Score 9-12 Good going, scope for improvement
Score 1-8 Must improve the score

More than getting you a score, this check list helps you initiate the thought process that could address some of the essentials around seeking a solution in an open innovation way, thereby increasing the probability of success.

If you have a suggestion on additional points for the above list, then please feel free to send it across to us at

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Employee co-creation: an elevator pitch

Employee CO-CREATION is an act of innovating with the help of talent which is primarily NOT employed as INNOVATORS in your enterprise.

Be it the culture, the education, the upbringing or the personal interest - sheer DIVERSITY of talent available within the enterprise has huge untapped potential, and this latent talent is more than willing to collaborate and make a difference for the enterprise.

We are used to executing the given task as a project, where we apply control and a kind of PUSH to get things done. When it comes to creativity, the exact opposite works. Co-creation works on the principles of a PULL, where one creates a right challenge and puts in a right incentive for someone to provide the solution. The solvers (employees or non employees) are NOT hard pressed to deliver; in fact it is a voluntary act on their side, is done with far more willingness, with a passion to make a difference, and for intellectual satisfaction.

Today innovation is no longer a geek thing happening somewhere behind the closed doors. Now every individual gets excited by a new idea, and is in search of an avenue to share it. Small could be the idea, but the pride it delivers remain high.

‘But in our business we don’t need to innovate a lot’ is fast becoming the thought from the previous decade. Fundamental reason for this shift is the emerging knowledge from WITHIN which tells the enterprises that innovation has given them good returns, dollars has been made or dollars has been saved, brand has a better positioning and employee morale has seen a boost. Best part is - these benefits come from small, incremental and continuous innovation, not from a rare path breaking one.

Enterprises are deriving several ways to leverage this newly discovered POWER OF COLLABORATIVE INNOVATION. Be it through an innovation competition, seeking new service lines to enhance the revenue, cost cutting, productivity improvement, employee satisfaction & retention, for co-creating with customers or even for a latest trend around corporate social responsibility (CSR). The list ends only where the imagination ends!

Employee co-creation is one of those few LOW hanging phenomenon where it’s a WIN-WIN for both employers and employees.

ideaken enables enterprises when they need to collaborate to innovate with employees, and optionally with customers, research vendors, academia or with the global pool of talent. Enterprises can run ideaken platform with their own branding accessible only to their employees, and optionally and selectively open up to outside world.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

ideaken exhibited at Silicon India, Bangalore and Echelon 2010, Singapore

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Does OPEN INNOVATION equal outsourcing innovation?

Contracting out a business function; be it IT services or Innovation; to an external provider will qualify as outsourcing. So what’s the big fuss about, why is open innovation being mentioned in all innovation forums?

On the face of it – there isn’t much difference.

While the traditional outsourcing based on Cost saving and  on demand resources; allows one to focus on their core business, it is also true for open innovation. However why open innovation is getting popular has more reasons than what meets the eye.

a) Outsourcing focuses on repeatable tasks, open innovation focuses on one- off task. (One would most probably try to open innovate when the answer is not a phone call away; at Bangalore or Beijing)

b) Outsourcing focuses on the getting job done, open innovation focuses on increasing the probability of getting that complex job done. (There are no guarantees in open innovation, but one can surely reduce the risk of not reaching out to a possible great idea)

c) Outsourcing success is based on identifying the right partner for medium to long term, open innovation success is based on having the right processes in place to leverage the long tail phenomenon. (Here the quantity of solutions does not matter, but the relevancy does and this relevancy may not be possible to be bought  from a predefined source) 

d) Outsourcing helps enterprises improve predictability, Open innovation helps enterprises improve novelty in their offerings. (Predictability is hygiene, consumers now want to be delighted)

e) Outsourcing is based on push, open innovation is based on pull. (Push works better for traditional business function outsourcing, Pull works better for creativity and innovation)

Reasons to go for open innovation could be a subset of reasons to go for a typical business function outsourcing, but the former has lot more underneath it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Seeking a method for attaining extreme cantilever using a coilable material

The Seeker needs to extend horizontally the loose end of a small coil of lightweight stored material without external support -- essentially, achieving a cantilever supported only at one beam end. Material, beam cross-section, and beam structure are on the table -- but your solution must meet strict criteria in terms of size, weight, cost, and coilability.

The seeker envisions that there may be a better engineering or materials solution to our problem than the one we now use. We store a small coil of lightweight material (the coil size can fit in the hand), the loose end of which must extend horizontally from the coil for well over 168 unsupported inches without deflection anywhere along the extended length or at the root of the beam. There is no additional load on the cantilever beam other than the weight of its own material.

All potential solutions must face tight cost constraints. Exotic materials or difficult-to-manufacture options may be non-starters (even if successful solutions) because of costs. Your solution to this cantilever problem will need to be manufactured hundreds of thousands of times, and must cost accordingly.

Some of the constraints applicable
  • Tight cost constraints.
  • Able to extend horizontally 168+ inches without deflection or support except at one beam end. A greater cantilever extension would be even better.
  • Able to store 168+ linear inches of material in a small coil (or in another compact storage form able to be held in one hand) no more than 3-to-5 inches in its largest dimension.
  • Gross weight under 1 pound.
Note: Please make sure that only non-confidential information is submitted as part of your solution. You can submit a summary of your solution, however the solution summary should be elaborate enough to convince seeker that you have a solution.

Sign In to read more about the challenge or Sign Up Now and start solving.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Seeking to improve thermoplastic (especially polyolefin) performance properties by using additives

Our client is looking to improve the performance properties of polyolefins, polyethylenes, and thermoplastics generally. Additives, ingredients, fillers, modifiers, agents and other methods are all of interest. We are open to new additives that enhance any of a long list of properties, or that can enhance the performance of additives already in use.

Our client's focus is on finding new ingredients, modifiers, or agents that improve the balance of properties of a thermoplastic (in particular, a polyolefin) over what is currently used today. The list of properties of interest includes:

o Lighter weight
o Higher modulus
o Increase tensile strength
o Improve impact resistance
o Improve heat resistance
o Decrease density (while maintaining the same or greater strength)
o Minimize shrinkage
o Improve surface finish, feel, optical appearance, and similar aesthetics
o Improve scratch resistance and surface hardness
o Improve stiffness
o Minimize or eliminate abrasiveness (causes problems during extrusion)

Ideally, your proposed additive would provide new properties in plastics or improvements over anything currently available; or, your additive would maintain current-equivalent properties but at a greatly reduced weight or much lower cost.

Early-stage technologies are acceptable, but it is preferred that you have reduced the technology to practice at least at the lab scale.

  • Safety is important to us. Any new ingredient should not create safety hazards when inhaled during mixing or cause harm during incineration or processing.
  • Your additive must work with an extruder (or possibly a compounder). An additive that is too abrasive -- over 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale -- may be harder than the steel in an extruder. We may make an exception for a true nano-scale additive.
  • No restriction between organic or inorganic additives.
  • We are NOT currently interested in new polymers (unless the polymer is added to polyolefins), new processes, or new machines.
Note: Please make sure that only non-confidential information is submitted as part of your solution. You can submit a summary of your solution, however the solution summary should be elaborate enough to convince seeker that you have a solution.
    Sign In to read more about the challenge or Sign Up Now and submit your solution.

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    This workshop had a single point agenda - define the challenge for open innovation

    We recently participated in a 2 day workshop organized by one of our clients. This client is a consortium of agencies funded by United Nations, working towards providing solutions for sanitation and clean water in India. Approximately 50 delegates participated from France, Netherlands and fifteen different states of India.

    Here we share some of the best practices followed during the workshop in formulating a challenge for open innovation.

    First the no brainer, Schedule a long listening session – Put forward a guideline that only challenges and issues faced are being discussed and not the solution. Make sure to have involvement and participation from all stake holders. The best ingredient to have a right problem is to listen up from a diverse forum with respect to age, geographies, departments, designations or social status, whichever is applicable.

    Conquer challenge articulation by dividing it in logical groups – This will help you express the challenge in a way which is much easier to understand by the individual who is likely  to solve it for you. Some of the examples of logical grouping for this workshop were related to culture and mindset, raw material availability and cost. Also this could help you divide the challenge into multiple smaller challenges to be solved independent of each other.

    Try not telling the truth! – Telling what you need solved is the best way to get to solutions, but see if you can abstract it from the domain of your challenge. For example if your  sole interest is in reducing the cost of sanitation by reducing the cost of toilet roof then instead of calling it a sanitation challenge call it a “how to reduce the cost of roof” challenge. This way you are keeping it open for the people from construction domain as well, who otherwise, on seeing it as sanitation challenge could end up not considering it.

    Simulate the outcome - Know your evaluation criteria well and convert them into specific expectations. Further categorize your expectations as ‘must meet’ and ‘good if met’.

    Allocate Reward only after formulating the challenges – Having overall budget for the solution is ok, but put the exact reward only after you have the complete challenge in front of you. The only rule which should be applied while deciding on the reward is making it proportionate to the effort and skill required and the benefit it will deliver to you once obtained. There is no right or wrong answer for this one, but needs a bit of deliberation at the minimum.

    Don’t overload the challenge – Don’t add up all the expectation into the challenge such that solvers are confused by too many requirements, perceive it to be too complicated, and don’t take it up for solving. At the same time make sure it has a good enough stretch factor and highlights all your must have expectations.

    Do share if there are any additional best practices that worked for you while formulating a challenge for open innovation.

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Innovative approach to attract niche talent

    The deeper we dig, more ways to leverage collaborative innovation surface.

    Companies in search of niche talent all over the world face hurdles in two folds – a) how to reach out to the right forum where the required niche talent frequent and b) how to screen and shortlist.

    Here are some of the challenges which are frequently encountered and a possible way out.

    Companies like Google have been organizing competitions to lure the right candidates. These competitions provide candidates the flavor of what the company expects and thus attract only the candidates who are genuinely interested. After all one won’t attempt to solve a complex mathematical problem unless she has a personal interest in the subject.

    ideaken, offers a SaaS platform for companies to host such recruitment competitions. Companies can define a competition challenge, define an appropriate reward and open it to the entire world. The right reward creates the right pull for the candidates to showcase their skills. Even if you do not end up hiring the winning candidate, you create an impression about your brand and organization culture.

    Once the potential candidates put in their solutions, a team of reviewers can screen the solutions, and shortlist the right fitment of candidates. The companies can subsequently take the process forward with these candidates offline.

    Usage of ideaken platform for running a competitive requirement campaigns for niche skill provides certain distinct advantages 

    a) Smart Short listing - No longer shortlist the candidate just because they have certain keyword in their resume.  
    b) Keep the branding - You can hire the platform and brand with your logo and content.  
    c) Web Based - everything being web based allows companies to post challenges and recruit people from all over.  
    d) Central but not co-located Review Team – as the platform is web based, all the solutions can be reviewed by one review team which effectively brings uniformity to the entire process  
    e) Schedule based – since the challenge will follow a certain schedule, the whole process becomes much more streamlined and predictable  
    f) Real time dashboard – at any time, you know how many candidates are solving your challenge. Meaning you have a fair idea of the response and may want to promote the challenge in other places  
    g) Rewarding the top solution – allows to build brand equity within the community by sending the right message about the innovative culture in the enterprise  
    h) Ability to run multiple challenges - platform allows companies to run multiple challenges at the same time.
      If you want to move away from the clutter of job portals and resume sourcing consultants and want to directly be in touch with your future employees. If you want to explore a new and innovative way to hiring then, you need to engage and start collaborating with your future employees. ideaken, collaborative innovation platform can help you take your first step towards this innovative hiring.

      If you would like to evaluate how this concept could be utilized for your enterprise, please send us a mail at for your competition hosting by ideaken.

      Tuesday, April 6, 2010

      Enterprise FAQs on collaborative innovation

      Enterprises long ago realized that unless ‘Quality’ is part of every employee at work, on the ground and not in the books, just having a focus group for ‘Quality’ is a waste.

      The pageant has reached focus group for ‘Innovation’. If you want to be an innovative company, you better have everybody who can innovate innovating for you, and there better be an established way for doing so. Though there are no arguments on why the leaders or the employees want collaborative innovation, there are few frequently asked questions? We present three of them here.

      Would members of innovation focus group of an enterprise be ok with losing some control?
      No and then Yes! No because it’s but natural to resist change. However the same team will find themselves benefiting from this change. When they have access to more raw ideas, more diverse solutions, access to more talent, the focus group will realise that they have more time to supervise and align the innovation to the business objectives. The change will allow the focus group to work on implementing the innovation in a manner that benefits the organization, in turn improving the productivity of innovation group.

      How can I pick the right solution from all the noise?
      Collaborative innovation is all about getting lots of solutions, good ones, bad ones, sometimes even pure trash, but this is part of the deal and needs to be dealt with. Here is how. a) Select the right solver base, even if you have selected all employees or whole world, promote your challenge in a right forum. b) Describe the challenge and be clear on what you want, explicitly state must meet and good if met expectations c) Distribute the task of solution reviews, let there be crowd sourcing even in the evaluation phase.

      How can I, as a solver, be sure that my ideas will not be used without paying for it?
      There is some possibility of one misusing the spirit of collaborative innovation and not paying for what they use. However there are ways to avoid it, here is how ideaken makes sure this misuse does not happen. a) ideaken makes serious effort to know who is posting the challenge b) innovation seeker accepts terms and conditions where they agree to allow audit on request. c) ideaken encourages enterprise usage of the platform, that means the challenge submission is always from a credible source. d) The entire transaction happens online, so there is an audit trail of everything which is said and shared.

      Overall the benefits of collaborative innovation surpasses the challenges it throws at us. And that is one of the reasons why collaborative innovation, open innovation, co-creation is topping the list of innovation agenda of every leader in the enterprise.

      Tuesday, March 23, 2010

      Can a bit of insanity nail down the solution?

      We all are good at trying the acknowledged path to get to a solution. My question is - will it help if we add a bit of insanity to it?

      What if we imagine that the constraints for solving the problem do not exist? If a solution requires air to be passing through the glass, assume it can. If your solution needs a vacuum to operate in the open sky, assume it is available.

      Get hold of such multiple imaginary solutions, then start working backwards. Ask what are the alternatives to get those unachievable constraint(s) replaced by something which is practical, while moving your insane solution towards a more practical one.

      Reduce one constraint at a time and note down the ideas you get during this elimination. Don’t eliminate your constraint from being there, to not being there in one step, reduce it gradually (if vacuum was the assumption, then assume vacuum available only for one minute in twenty four hours, if it can’t work out, then say it is only available in the closed environment, then, only if there is no way to create the vacuum where your solution will play; then say vacuum is not available).

      Reduce the insanity in your solution only when you and your team give up on that particular insanity! Check out if the ideas, the arguments you had during this time are useful to you, if it is, then put it back in your acknowledged path of getting to a solution.

      Let’s try an example. A new axe design is required, an axe should be heavy so it can create impact, and light so it is easy to handle. In other words we have contradicting requirements - Axe should be both heavy and light!

      What could be insane to think while designing the new axe?
      1) Keep on increasing the length of the handle, till the swing provides the desired impact.
      2) Make the iron weigh nothing during the swing, but make it heavy when near to the impact.
      3) Have an axe filled with heavy liquid, which moved towards the head at the time of impact.
      4) One impact creates a ripple of impacts automatically.
      5) Grow pre-cut trees, so the axe itself is not needed.
      6) The handle does not cut the wood, get rid of the handle.

      We do not know what went in the minds of innovator for this new design. But after a few iterations of working backwards, a new axe was designed which sort of achieved both the results of being heavy and light simultaneously.

      The center of gravity was moved towards the head by reducing the weight of the handle. Now the axe has more impact and due to hollow handle overall weight of the axe is reduced.

      Insane thinking by sane people can lead to a long tail within, and to a desired solution. Give it a try.

      Wednesday, March 10, 2010

      Seeking solution for the TRAFFIC JAM (how to avoid and ways to clear it off faster)

      Most of the urban cities in India today have a traffic jam problem which results in loss of person hours, causes environmental damage, and increases fuel wastage.

      There are thousands of suggestions received to resolve traffic issues by the planning authorities and traffic management agencies across India, however most of them lack either the impact (return on investment), solve too little of a problem or underplay the dependencies which exists to implement those solutions.

      Seeker is expecting a comprehensive solution for the “Traffic Jam” problem in the urban cities.

      Seeker is expecting solutions for one or both of the following categories.

      Category 1 - High impact, low cost, practical, implementable
      Category 2 - High impact but DOES NOT NEED TO be low on cost, practical or implementable

      Category 2 needs a theoretical solution. Can the solution of traffic Jam come from the problem itself? How do we make the traffic jam problem self heal? Feel free to go WILD with your imagination without thinking about how it can be implemented (Applicable only for category 2)

      Sign In to read more about the challenge or Sign Up Now and start solving.

      Tuesday, March 2, 2010

      Concept overview – collaborative innovation

      This concept overview in approximately one minute, tries to convey the When, Why and How of collaborative innovation.

      We are compiling the top questions  that enterprises frequently ask when embracing collaborative innovation, open innovation or co-creation. If you have a question on the same then please submit as a comment to this post or send it to us at

      We will respond individually to each question, and publish our take on some of the questions in subsequent posts here in this blog.

      Tuesday, February 23, 2010

      Why won’t Joe solve my problem?

      You might assign the problem to someone, but chances of you asking Joe is real slim.

      You may have estimated the effort this solution might require, some of that already used up, but you may not know when you will get a solution or if you will get a solution.  You have a bad problem in hand, but worse is Joe who has a solution for your problem won’t solve it for you.

      Here is why - Joe works for a different division!  Joe won’t solve it for you because you won’t ask him, and sure enough Joe won’t get to know that you have such a problem.

      Is it possible to find how much an elastic band will stretch without actually stretching it?  Probably yes, a good guess could get you close enough.

      Is it possible to find out by how much harder an employee can work for you? May be yes, at least you would know the limitations & boundaries.

      But is it possible to find out what your people can solve for you in addition to the work you pay them for? Bit tough, may be you can’t.

      In an attempt to leverage this untapped potential - enterprises are now creating a two way specialized pipe within the enterprise, for example a pipe for collaborative innovation. You broadcast your problem to all including Joe via this pipe. All, including Joe tune into this pipe for the challenges the enterprise is seeking solutions for.

      Joe is happy to share the solution, provided someone asks for it, a reward of fully paid two nights vacation only makes him happier! 

      So is this the end of all innovation challenges enterprise face? maybe not. But if Joe exists somewhere out there, then you will surely not miss out on Joe’s solution.

      ideaken enables enterprises when they need to collaborate to innovate, with employees, customers, research vendors, academia or with global pool of talent.

      Tuesday, February 16, 2010

      "Good" & "Bad" of being "Part-Time" creative

      Parallelism – is the “in” thing, enabled by the technology, connectivity and the evolution of human brain which has progressively learned how to switch off from the previous task and focus on the next.  Over the years this switch-overs has sped up, so much that it has attained parallelism. The best of the parallelism is applied in being creative. Never under estimate the idea you end up getting in a shower! 

      If you love chocolate ice-cream the most, and if you are thinking of trying a new flavor today, ‘you are being creative’ even if you end up having a chocolate one in the end. Creativity is all about thinking differently, only criteria is being truthfully spontaneous!, no point thinking of a strawberry  flavor for the sake of it.

      You either know that you are creative or you do not know it yet, there is no such thing as not being creative.  You either have the right audience who appreciates your creativity or you do not have it yet, it is not possible that such an audience does not exist. 

      You may not be creative, between two of your creative spells. ‘Part-time creative’ - that’s how most of us are.

      If you are wondering what could be the “Bad” of being part-time creative, then you are wondering for the right, there isn’t any “Bad” in being part-time creative, as long as you are capitalizing on it.

      Thursday, February 4, 2010

      Eureka moments, now smaller, incremental and widespread

      Path breaking innovations are few and getting relegated to a once in a decade phenomenon. What we see all around us are small and incremental innovations. The benefits delivered or dollars saved from these small and incremental innovations are turning out to be worth taking a note of.

      Water tanks provided a quick solution to personal water storage problem, but putting wheels on it provided a solution for century old water transport challenge in remote villages of Africa.

      Today, a solution for your challenge or your need, might already be getting discussed, sought, worked on - in another part of the world, in just another corner of your enterprise, or sitting idle in somebody’s mind. You need to collaborate with these sparks, which most probably are eager to collaborate with you as well. What you need is - a mechanism to connect.

      In the past, innovations came out of eureka moments, then came people with fancy titles who would innovate for you, now we are back to where we started – it has become increasingly acceptable for anybody to have a solution which solves a given challenge.

      Today, enterprises are adding up these small solutions, ideas and innovations rather than waiting for one big bang.

      Saturday, January 30, 2010

      Seeker looking for a device that allows a player, to set up dominos faster for a toppling game

      Seeker is looking for device design, which should allow a player to set up the dominos faster than any other traditional method of setting them up possible today.

      The device design should allow the user to create interesting patterns, including but not limited to circles, trees where one row becomes two and two becomes four, curves. Also allow predefined shapes, which could connect to each other to make a longer domino queue. Patterns and shapes could be created by using the device multiple times (in other words, the device does not need to release the pattern or design in one go)

      Player should be able to repeat the whole process for any number of times, which means that once the dominos fall, it should be easy to set them again.

      Solver need to submit the technical design for the device with details.
      A video capture of a) technical design with explanation and b) the design at work; is must.

      Read more about the problem here or Sign Up Now to start solving.

      Thursday, January 28, 2010

      Little book of collaborative innovation by ideaken on display at Odyssey outlet

      Thursday, January 21, 2010

      Seeker is looking for a solution to save stranded Whales, Dolphins, and other big fish

      Every year more than 2000 fish/mammals around the world get stranded and majority of them do not make it back to the sea. The occurrences of big fish/ mammal stranding and the causes are still a subject of scientific research and debate. Current known ways of rescuing, results only in saving a few, smaller and younger ones. platform is hosting a challenge to identify  practical solution to save stranded Whales, Dolphins, and other big fish

      The challenge is looking for a solution in following areas.

      Point 1) Identification of the reasons that causes stranding and ways to fix those reasons.
      Point 2) a) Keeping the stranded big fish / mammals alive, far longer than possible today b) solution to move them back in the deep sea, and c) ways to avoid re-beaching
      Both Point 1) and Point 2) above.

      Your solution will be reviewed by the experts in big fish/ mammal rescue field for applicability and suitability.

      Read more about the problem here or Sign Up Now to start solving.

      Monday, January 18, 2010

      Putting the theory of collaborative innovation to practice - is live!

      ideaken logo
      We call it a beginning of  how power of social media shifting from instant gratification to creating a sustainable value.

      ideaken team is excited and proud to announce the launch of a platform for collaborative innovation.

      We believe our platform offers many firsts on how software as a service (SaaS) is getting rolled out to the world. We also believe that we offer the best possible platform to date which facilitates innovation via collaboration. And we are committed to keep it that way.

      Check out collaborative innovation concept overview and how the platform works

      Welcome onboard!