14 December 2011

Idea management software and social networks
We are all familiar with Facebook and Twitter and the ‘general’ social networking sites available to all. For businesses, organizations, and even political movements, these tools provide a method for creating brand awareness and engaging people with similar interests. However, generic sites such as Facebook and Twitter do not provide the tools necessary to focus the audience. There are too many distractions (games, photos, videos, other posts, etc) and your followers might not share the same beliefs or passion for your topic. Essentially these sites provide a shotgun approach to engaging your audience. What I mean by ‘shotgun’ is that for every topic you post, relevant to your business and organization, only a small subset of those people networked through your Facebook page or Twitter account will likely be engaged by the post… and not all will likely be ‘positive’ contributors.

Another drawback is that sometimes organizations may want to explore topics that are suited for specific people and thus are too private to discuss on public sites. Not having the ability to control who is engaged in the conversation takes away from the flexibility needed to discuss truly relevant topics. Engaging ‘irrelevant’ people into the discussion only detracts from your mission and adds noise which needs to be filtered out.

There is an alternative, nevertheless, to public social networking. Private social networks are quickly becoming the tool of preference for many organizations. The most common varieties of these are idea management systems. Depending on their setup, they allow users who share a passion for the organization to post and discuss topics regarding improvements, requirements, and innovation… all while keeping their “sister’s-friend’s-cousin” from engaging the conversation.

Dell (IdeaStorm), Adobe (Acrobat Ideas), and many organizations are using idea management software to further enhance their marketing efforts through crowdsourcing. They use them to gauge and harness their customers ideas and sentiments in order to provide better products and services. The benefit of this method is that only people interested in the organization’s products, services, or mission will engage the conversation thus eliminating the ‘noise’ factor created by out-of-topic comments by the “sister’s-friend’s-cousin”.

Posted on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 by George R.

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21 September 2011

A classic example of failing at yokoten (transversalization) that I like to share frequently is American Airlines suggestion system. As much as consultants and subject-matter-experts like to share stories of success about AAs IdeAAs program, the truth is that it was not as rosy as they make it appear. Not only was the program not delivering the type of results known possible from good employee suggestion programs where according to page 105-106 in Robert B. Tucker's book  (Driving Growth Through Innovation: How Leading Firms Are Transforming Their Futures) AA saved $36M/yr with revenues likely exceeding $20B, but it was likely due to low employee participation, too many roadblocks, and poor knowledge sharing - Yokoten.

Here’s my example based on two suggestions engraved in “suggestion Systems Lore”… In 1987 a flight attendant proposed removing the Olives from all salads after realizing most passengers were not eating them. This saved, according to popular culture about $80,000 (and the term –The $80,000 Olive – was born).

American Airlines IdeAAs
In 1991, another flight attendant proposed reducing the serving size of Caviar in first class from 200g to 100g after noticing that large amounts of it were being thrown away. This idea saved nearly $500,000/yr according to popular culture.

But here’s the lesson, yes it was great that employees identified these savings, but one has to wonder why it took 4 years before an almost identical idea was implemented.

In fact, while most experts like to point to and credit the IdeAAs program for its success in discovering a $500,000/year savings, I like to point out that the failure of the IdeAAs program to enable Yokoten and engage everyone while making knowledge readily available cost them $2,000,000!


Posted on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 by George R.

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15 May 2011

One of the biggest questions faced by innovation managers is how to measure success. Finding the right combination of KPIs which deliver relevant and actionable information can be difficult for the unseasoned Innovation Manager. Most organizations require a different set of data since their strategies will differ; however there are a few ‘core’ KPI that no innovation strategy must be without.

Our philosophy at INCENT is not to focus on the end result as much as the execution phase of the innovation process. Ensuring execution of your strategy will likely guarantee the end results. A good starting point in defining the KPI for your innovation strategy, (and more so if using idea management software across a vast group of users) is to measure the following items:

1) Participation
     a. The more people are engaged the likelier the chance of finding the 'diamond in the rough'.
     b. Recurring participation will indicate the team continues to be motivated to participate.
2) Idea Quality:
     a. Is your team proposing very random ideas or are they focusing on specific challenges?
     b. Are most ideas discarded? Or are they turning into actionable items?
3) Aging:
     a. If it takes too long to process an idea participants may lose interest.

If you can stay on top of these then they will ensure the other KPIs (financial gains, patents achieved, or any other end result KPI that you want to measure) show consistent progress.

Posted on Sunday, May 15, 2011 by George R.

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16 February 2011

From USA Today 2/16/2011.

Facebook has managed to unite people across the world and open up communication amongst humanity to a level not imaginable just a few years back. The power of Social media and social networking has unleashed a level of collective collaboration powerful enough to topple governments. As impressive as this is, the majority of Facebook’s community has remained largely engaged in chatting with friends and relying on its well tuned algorithms to connect with lost ones.

For organizations looking to harness that level of collaborative power in order to drive continuous improvement and innovation, the new breed of idea management solutions feature Facebook-like interactivity while offering secure settings and tools designed to harness their team’s collective intelligence. Teams can collaborate across desks, walls, borders and even the general public while game-mechanics help drive motivation to engage in the conversation.

Front-end tools and back-end algorithms help link talent to ideas to ensure the best ones are identified, developed and ultimately driven to implementation. Idea management systems are like Facebook… with substance.

Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2011 by George R.

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