As an innovation leader, you must have heard of numerous organizations holding innovation challenges on a regular basis. They create a social forum and invite ideas and inventions from everyone, or they specify eligibility criteria. Basically, they leverage talent across the globe to solve a business problem or simply find a next-gen innovation to a social problem.
For example, Accenture innovation challenges.
Even at the moment, they are accepting applications for their 2024 innovation challenge. It’s an opportunity for college students across the U.S. to help an NGO solve a business challenge. It has three rounds, a detailed challenge description, a set of specific instructions, a team-based assignment, and at the end, a Summer 2024 internship and a cash prize!
It’s just a genius way to capture innovation and win at business and social innovation.
The good news is that you can do it too!
You can reap the same benefits, if not more, and that too, without additional budgeting.
By starting internal innovation challenges and harnessing the innovation of every individual in-house.
It’s not easy, but we are here to help!
Launching a successful innovation challenge
To get started with your innovation challenge program, you must:
Have a medium for the entire innovation challenge process
It’s an overstated yet overlooked fact that everything is digital and automated nowadays. When it comes to capturing innovation, leaders fail to recognize the need to up their game. They expect their employees to share their ideas but provide no process, best practices, or platform to do so.
On top of the daily tasks and operations, innovation becomes an additional task and not something natural that their workplace imbibes.
At the same time, individuals who do want to share their ideas, challenge or no challenge, do not know how to do so. They get confused in the hierarchies and organizational silos and eventually give up.
So, you must introduce an idea and innovation management software that:
- Streamlines the entire innovation pipeline, right from capturing an idea to disclosing an invention.
- Supports innovation anytime, anywhere. Plus enables you to run innovation-focused challenges to come up with solutions for critical business problems.
- Makes employee participation possible on a larger scale, regardless of how large and scattered your employee base is across the globe.
- Automates every process in the pipeline. There shouldn’t be any reliance on outdated methods, such as long email threads, lost chat spaces, hackathons, no-record calls, unstructured meetings and discussions, and so on.
- Simplifies adding a business challenge, collecting solutions, prioritizing ideas, evaluating them, and implementing swiftly.
Describe the challenge in detail
More often than not, the reason why innovation leaders fail to get the best results from organizing a company-wide challenge is because of ambiguity.
Although Idea Assist enables you to define even an extraordinary challenge effectively, say you aren’t using a professional tool for the purpose. How do you get literally everyone in your organization on board? Can you state that every one of your employees has the same perception of the goals and the roadmap to achieve them?
If yes, well, you can move forward to the next step. Otherwise, create clarity across departments, roles, time zones, and cultures for business innovation. Here are a few tips on how you can achieve it:
- Add a concise and to-the-point title to your innovation challenge.
- Since you have already identified the business aspect that needs immediate attention on a priority basis, describe it to your entire workforce.
- Ensure that they understand why a particular obstacle has been picked up for the ongoing challenge and why their efforts are necessary.
- Attach sufficient references, multimedia, and additional information to support a quicker uptake.
- Mention the business unit their innovation will benefit and by what proportion.
- Provide a deadline by which they need to complete the challenge. Convey that this challenge has a shelf life.
- Convey the impact you’re trying to make to everyone.
Give specific instructions on why they must submit ideas
Just because they are on your payroll, it doesn’t mean people are blindly going to follow whatever you say.
We all understand that innovation cannot be forced. But you can motivate individuals to go out of their comfort zone and take intrapreneurial initiatives.
Related Read: Benefits of an Intrapreneurship Culture
You can do this by being honest. Any innovation challenge can be productive if employees understand why they need to go beyond their daily objectives and participate proactively. Here is a list showing a few of the benefits you can educate your employees about:
- Monetary and non-monetary incentives
- Alignment of their individual and business goals
- How their expertise is essential to the challenge
- How every employee brings a fresh perspective, regardless of their expertise or designation
- Their career-growing opportunities
Foster real-time collaboration
When you launch an innovation challenge, if it is designed aptly and supplements your innovation program, you’ll receive hundreds and thousands of ideas within your challenge timeline.
You’ll need a system that makes swift implementation of priority-based ideas possible without compromising their real value. And it will only be feasible if everyone pulls the same rope. There must be real-time collaboration and feedback loops for incoming ideas. Here are a few features of a good collaboration process in innovation challenges:
- Everyone receives real-time notifications
- A timeline feature to literally trace every event created in the innovation process that creates transparency and accountability
- In-built Chat feature
- Relevant segmentations for effective implementation
Write to us at email@example.com to learn more.
Must have integrations
Another major factor that helps you organize an effective innovation challenge is providing integrations with the existing tech stack. Don’t make your employees move out of their existing systems to contribute their ideas to your business solutions.
The more you look after them, the more they’ll reward your company with their efforts.
Acknowledge valuable ideas
You may think about how does acknowledgment fits into a technical process of gathering ideas and turning them into business solutions. But remember, it is not going to be your only business challenge that you need to tackle. You will regularly have to run innovation challenges to stay ahead of the competition. Granted that some challenges will be small, of short period, with not so much traction, but then there will be the other set of challenges (the hard ones).
If you think you can create and maintain a place in an ever-evolving market without consistency, we have news for you.
You need to make innovation a part of your culture, and innovation challenges are a regular process. And if you fail to acknowledge, recognize, and validate the efforts of your top innovators, you’ll see a drop in their interest and contribution every time.
So be attentive, empathize, and communicate. Encourage your innovation challenge winners! All in all, make it a positive experience.
Launch your first innovation challenge
Have you ever heard of the phrase paralysis through analysis? It basically means that no good would come out of analyzing every little thing. You need to take a leap of faith and begin with your innovation challenges.
You will get better with every challenge.
Your employees will engage more and more every time they see healthy competition in-house.
With a professional tool, you will receive a daily analysis of your innovation program and about its success. So you can make upgrades.
Related Read: How to build an innovation strategy?
To run a successful innovation challenge:
- Have a medium for the entire innovation process
- Must support integrations
- Identify the area that needs immediate improvement
- Describe the challenge in detail
- Give specific instructions on why employees must participate in the challenge
- Foster real-time collaboration
- Acknowledge, appreciate, and reward valuable contributions
- Take a leap of faith and start innovating