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 contact@ideaken.com 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.