Based on my experience, I have identified the following seven stages that underpin successful crowdsourcing projects:
- Defining the objectives, project planning and set up
- The launch event
- Going live with idea generation and submission
- Idea prioritisation and selection
- The Dragons’ Den event (or whatever is best suited to your company culture)
- Routinely communicating the business benefits from the implemented ideas
- Managing the ideas log (i.e. continuing the process of implementing ideas that did not make it to the Dragons’ Den finale but are still worthwhile implementing; periodically communicating the results back to the business)
Common pitfalls include: rushing through stage 1, insufficient guidance during stage 3, and ignoring stages 6 and 7! Placing too much faith in the crowdsourcing software is another common error - today's software is good, but software alone doesn't guarantee a flow of ideas.
This article covers the key activities during Stage 1.
If you are setting up a staff ideas scheme, here are the activities to include in Stage 1:
1. Set clear project objectives
- Gaining senior management sponsorship and buy-in is essential. Don’t start the project until you have the commitment of key stakeholders.
- Define the primary and secondary objectives, e.g. generate quick-win ideas for the business, solving a technical challenge, encouraging staff creativity, etc.
- Secure the right budget. If you’re going to do it, do it properly!
- Recruit the right project leader or the project will fail (see our blog on how to select the right project leader)
- Handpick a team of go-to people who can support staff and answer questions throughout the project. Choose people from different functional roles and make sure you include an experienced marketing communications person
- Give clear guidance on where you want staff to target their ideas. Articulate 2-3 real business challenges summarised in a short document and signed off by management
- Agree on the idea prioritisation criteria and the idea capture template
- Set targets for the volume of ideas needed per stage i.e. number of ideas submitted, prioritised, presented at the Dragons’ Den event, and implemented
- Decide whether to adopt an individual or team-based approach to idea submission. A team-based approach will deliver stronger ideas, better collaboration and create more of a buzz throughout your company. You will also need teams to implement the winning ideas!
- Install and test the crowdsourcing software, upload the idea capture templates, the voting criteria, etc
- Maximise impact by choosing the right time to launch the initiative e.g. at a company conference
- Prepare promotional videos, posters, etc, to engage staff and create a great buzz
- Agree incentives/prizes to motivate staff
- Make it fun and exciting, or you’ll have an uphill struggle!
Use the above as a reference guide.
How much time is needed for Stage 1? For a large-scale initiative involving 100s of staff, I recommend an elapsed time of a couple of months. To quote Benjamin Franklin: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Thanks for reading this article.
Click here for part 2 of this article: Key stages of successful online idea schemes (Part 2)
And here's another article that might be of interest: Making a winning Dragon’s Den pitch
Director of 3inno