Creating the right Conditions to stimulte innovation and Creativity in the workplace

I did some work with a new client which offered some fascinating insights into what is required to create the right conditions to stimulate innovation and creativity in the workplace.

I had the opportunity to launch the initiative at our new customer’s conference – their top 100 managers were in a luxurious hotel in Scotland for two days. Innovation was a key theme.

I did a short presentation to follow-up on the keynote from a Board Director and introduced the task which was to use the TalkFreely software to respond to some strategic challenges with ideas, comments and votes. I then showed them how to do it. Every table of 10 people had an ipad and instructions on how to use their smartphones or laptops and asked them to enter, comment and rate some of the existing ideas before the next session the following morning.

Before I reveal the results, I need to introduce a model that we use to explain what we call the Adoption Challenge.

here is the the adoption challenge











The graph above basically says that if you offer people the option of doing their day job AND participating in idea sharing or just do their day job, most people will just do what they are paid to do and adoption is likely to be low, ie, most people will defer and do nothing (none), some people will View, a much smaller number will Rate, an even smaller number will comment and very few will offer ideas. The left hand activity (none) is easy and by comparison and the further right you go, the harder it gets. I think this model works for all corporate comms, not just ideas.

The graph below shows what happened in the first morning. Remember, they were sitting amongst their peers of the most qualified, highest paid managers in the business. The numbers are per table, so out of 10 managers, there were 15 page views so each person looked at just over one page before they gave up. There were just 11 ratings (the strategic challenges had some ideas against them already), 5 comments were put against these ideas, and 3 new ideas were offered.

the adoption challenge, here's what happens if you provide and pray people adopt










The following day I had another opportunity to present, but this time we got completely different results as you can see from the graph below. There were three times more views, more than ten times more idea ratings and more than three times more comments and ideas.

adoption improves if people see a purpose, permission, fun and a prize










What was the difference? The difference was simple, but provides a powerful lesson in what you need to do to motivate people to participate. The second time around I;

– Had the CEO introduce it, make it compelling and give it context

– Made it fun and rewarding (I had a range of prizes – mostly fun)

– Made it collaborative (I gave them an introduction to some innovation techniques and they had time to work together)

– Carefully showed people how to do it so as to remove any barriers (perceived or real)

The last nugget of insight I got from this experience which I believe is useful to share is the same graph, but just showing the activity from the person that offered the most ideas – 7 in total in one session. But notice that they didn’t rate or comment on other people’s ideas. They were very creative, but also very selfish. This is quite normal.


The rise of the co-creation business model

Love it or loathe it, social media has changed how businesses need to interact with their current and future customers.

Most organisations now have a facebook page, and the rest are probably thinking about. In reality however what the vast majority have done is to simply create another channel that they need to ‘feed’ – both to recruit ‘likes’ and then to keep them engaged. A browse of the facebook presence of the top 10 selling brands in the UK – so products that shift millions of units a year have, in some cases a few hundred ‘fans’ on facebook (indeed why on earth would you ‘like’ the Branston Pickle facebook page).

The smart organisations are figuring out that social and collaboration platforms like facebook, rather than being just another channel, are actually facilitating a shift in how consumers want to consume.

There is no better example than in the music industry – an industry that has been ‘disrupted’ beyond recognition by the internet age. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have demonstrated that a sizable and growing ‘fan’ base want something more – they want to be involved in the creative process whether it is a film or album.

New fan-centric businesses are emerging all the time – Spotify is as much as fan-based music library than it is an online music store. Songkick’s Detour service takes it one step further as does and Richseam.

The media industry is also reeling from the disruption from the shift to digital forms of content delivery is, in my opinion going the same way. Unless they too become fan-centric, what future do they have?

The next leap is to disrupt idea-creation and sourcing from the niche of the creative industry and into the mainstream.

lego cuusoo

We all have the ability to come up with ideas and in the same way that platforms like Kickstarter give the ‘crowd’ the ability to bring those ideas to life by attracting a fan base, platforms like Lego’s Cuusoo are doing the same in that they provide the opportunity for people to collect fans for their ideas.

For those that have not yet seen Lego Cuusoo, it’s a way that you can get your idea built and sold by Lego and in return you earn 3% of the global sales. The process is simple, you offer your idea to Lego and if it is something they believe they could make you then need to build a fan-base using social networks. If you get 10,000 ‘likes’ they will make and market your idea.

The really clever thing is that when people ‘like’ it they need to register with their social network profile (which imports demographics about the user) and then they are asked who they would buy the product for (age and gender) and how much they would be willing to spend. Not only do Lego get ideas therefore, they get ideas that have already attracted a 10,000 strong fan-base AND a whole load of demographic information about who would buy the product.

skoda coreation platformAnother example is the co-creation platform from Skoda for the Chinese market called Congming Zhuyi (聪明主义) which means “Clever Together”. To participate, users need to log into the website (which again allows Skoda China to collect demographics about their target market) and submit inspiration or ideas about different topics such as travel and romance. Inspirations can be submitted with text and images, and these can serve as a springboard for other visitors to submit their ideas.

This is more than product testing or customer feedback, this is about putting the fan / customer at the heart of the creative process. The smart organisations will recognise the opportunity to differentiate their products and services by finding ways to create very personal and unique products and experiences. We know that fans will pay a premium for unique and engaging experiences.

The challenge for organisations is to understand how to let go of what they have traditionally done and engage their consumers to co-create.

Brilliant Idea #45. TV program that creates products from crowd-sourced ideas

Here it is, Brilliant Idea #45, a TV show that crowd-sources ideas and turns them into real products

The call to action for the TV viewing members of the public is to offer those ideas, inventions, solutions that they’ve had nagging away away at them for years, but didn’t know what to do with. They submit these online for review. You would expect to have a lot of submissions, so stage 2 is to get the ‘crowd’ to vote in order to select one per show.

The show then takes the inventions / ideas / concepts through a development, prototyping, testing and build process. All of the items can then be sold online.

Every channel has a number of these ‘transformation’ shows and I’ve been toying with ideas about new formats for years. Whether its renovating an old car, cooking something, gardening, decorating, it’s the same basic narrative – you start with something and turn it into something else.

The brilliance of this idea (even if I do say so myself) is that the audience co-creates the show – not just the people with the idea, but the people that vote for the idea, collaborate on the idea and even buys the product that results in the process.

Brilliant Idea #6 Head cameras for sports officials

No-one would envy sports referees and officials. They do a very difficult job, under extreme pressure and inevitably mistakes are made which, such is the nature of the media today, is trawled over by pundits and journalists.

There is a really simple solution to this, which is to equip them with googleglass style cameras so the viewing public and pundits can see what they see?