Generating Insights and Ideas Online
by Ideas First
Do online methods for generating innovative ideas really work? What tactics can a company employ to ensure that employees become fully engaged in an online innovation process?
Improved internet access, increased band widths and new Web 2.0 technologies have laid the foundation for “Smart Companies” to conduct more and more of their innovation research on-line. Leading companies are using these new technologies to involve a much broader base of employees in their innovation activities, rather than limiting such activity to a small, marketing function. This approach can maximise the creative talents of a much larger team and bring to life one of the winning philosophies captured in Karl Albrecht’s book, “The Power of Minds at Work”.
There are also significant cost and environmental advantages of using on-line or “on-phone” methods compared with more traditional approaches: flying people into one location has become increasingly expensive, time-consuming and environmentally unsound.
However, do on-line methods really work in practice and what tactics can a company employ to ensure that employees become fully engaged in an on-line innovation process?
Do Online Methods Work?
Ideas First® has been using on-line tools to support early innovation work for the past eight years. This includes the use of survey tools, to get broader consumer and internal feedback to early insights and ideas, combined with the launch of a new brainstorming tool called the virtualHOTHOUSE®. Our results with large companies clearly demonstrate that new tools can enhance the outcomes and effectiveness of innovation projects, helping to reduce time delays, reduce travel cost and, most importantly, enhancing the final quality of ideas and insights.
There is one important caveat however, and that is that the new tools themselves do not guarantee success, they are simply enablers. To achieve good results, a large company will still need to follow the fundamental rules for innovation success.
Online Brainstorming - Ten Ways to Win
Define the creative focus
As with traditional insight or idea generation, it is important that an innovation team takes time to define the creative focus for on-line activity. Once defined, creatvity and innovation can then flow in the right direction.
Leadership and clear communication
Based on experience from the last 30 on-line events, the most successful projects are the ones with the support and commitment from senior levels of management. These leaders normally lead the initial event communication, outlining the objectives and highlighting the importance of the project.
Block quality time
Give people the right amount of time at different stages of the process, and encourage delegates to block quality time, especially for idea and insight sharing activities.
Even though an event is run on-line, encourage delegates to engage with consumers during the process to help in the generation of new insights or to refine leading ideas.
Provide team with good stimulus and training materials
For example, leading insights; stimulus from R&D teams, old ideas from previous projects and different out of the box games etc. It is very important that this information is tailored to each of the agreed Innovation Pillars.
Select strong team leaders
The virtualHOTHOUSE® tool allows groups of individuals to work in smaller teams. To achieve success, it is important that strong leaders are appointed to each team to set an example to others and to encourage other delegates to take part throughout the process.
Encourage small team working
A big benefit of new, on-line tools is that they can allow individuals to take part in innovation tasks at a time that is more convenient to them, or when they are at their most creative. However, while individual working is productive, it can also be beneficial to encourage individuals to work locally in “mini-teams”.
Have good individual incentives
If the project is important, set up good incentives to encourage individual contributions. The virtualHOTHOUSE® tool is able to track the contributions of all delegates from the start to the end of the process, making it easy to identify the individual or mini-teams responsible for the winning insights or ideas.
Consider using external creative agents and copy writers
To broaden thinking, it may be appropriate to involve external agents or creative consumers to introduce alternative ideas and insights. In addition, using external copy writers can help to refine leading insights and ideas in a clear and objective way, ahead of final online evaluation.
Communicate the winners
Even without cash incentives, many people simply like to have their efforts acknowledged. Ensure that the winners’ names are published in bright lights!
Other content shared by Ideas First
by Ideas First
Insights, or consumer insights, are critical to the innovation process. They are statements that capture a clear and deep understanding of a consumer's attitudes and emotions, and they are one of the key building blocks for a company to generate ideas for new products or new services. Read Article »
by Michael Simpson, Managing Partner, Ideas First
This article focuses on the future of insight and idea generation, the starting point of the innovation process, and provides three observations of how “smart companies” will generate and identify winning insights and ideas in the future, in a context of a much tougher economic and environmental climate. Read Article »
by Ideas First
Innovating in an economic downturn can be tough. With sales under pressure and budgets tight, it can be all too easy for marketing teams to forgo any thoughts of future innovation activity. Minds can become overly focused on simply hitting short term sales targets or looking at ways of cutting budgets so that short term profit targets are met. Listed below are five cost-effective ways of “innovating for growth” in an economic downturn, when research and travel budgets are especially limited. Read Article »
by Ideas First
Top tips for creating winning ideas, including sources for inspiration and strategic thinking suggestions. Read Article »
by Ideas First
Many factors will impact the success of failure of an innovation project, however, one of the most important drivers of success is to ensure that a project has “a clear creative focus” to guide the overall process and to help inspire the development of winning ideas and concepts. The attached article provides direction in defining winning Innovation Objectives and Innovation Pillars. Read Article »