How Crowdsourcing Innovation Culture Creates Value
Crowdsourcing is a topic of great significance in the world of innovation management. This is partly because crowdsourcing and open innovation have the same core principles. Like open innovation, crowdsourcing techniques like crowd voting and crowd creation are built upon the value of the distribution of knowledge.
Accordingly, seizing crowdsourcing opportunities can help businesses align their values with their innovation initiative. The following article will explore one commonly overlooked but nonetheless essential application of crowdsourcing: crowdsourcing innovation culture.
What Is Innovation Culture?
Innovation culture is the backbone of any innovation program. Without the culture to uphold your innovation initiatives, your program will be floating around like an aimless, spineless jellyfish. Except, instead of stinging you, it’ll just eat up your company’s resources and waste everyone’s time. Which is much worse, unless you factor in that someone might try to pee on you to ease the pain of a jellyfish sting. Anyway, here’s a few quick facts about innovation culture:
- It’s built upon two things: collaboration and transparency in business processes - Your innovation program must be accessible and supportive enough to take the uncertainty out of ideation and validation. An innovation platform is crucial to this aspect of your initiative.
- It helps strengthen the bond between employees and the company by recognizing the value of their contributions - Employees that feel like they’re part of the team are more likely to act like they’re part of the team by participating in innovation initiatives.
- It alleviates the pressure on those in leadership roles by involving more people in decision-making processes. Providing employees with a voice to influence changes in the company improves the quality of work for them and provides team leaders with more confidence in their choices.
An established innovation culture reduces turnover, boosts employee morale, and ultimately results in successful innovation.
How Can You Crowdsource Culture?
When you think of crowdsourcing, your mind probably drifts to the tangible things that it generates. For instance, crowdfunding sources money while crowd wisdom seeks to gather ideas. Crowdsourcing innovation culture works in exactly the same way. It helps innovation leaders guide their cultural shift by collecting feedback from those who will be most affected by it—the employees.
Pete is the innovation leader at his company. He’s been tasked with the cultural shift towards innovation. As an avid fan of sports and pepperoni pizza, he knows precisely how to go about rewarding the top participants in this week’s innovation challenge—a pizza party and football-watching bash! Unfortunately, the turnout is meager. The following week, participation is down. After gathering feedback from the winning team, he learns three things:
The example above may be slightly dramatized, but the lesson might be more applicable than you think. Often, those in leadership roles are siloed from the departments they oversee. This disconnect can lead to misunderstandings that may negatively affect company culture, like rewarding employees with something they don’t even see as a reward. Employee engagement is a challenge for many organizations. Crowdsourcing innovation culture can help.
How Crowdsourcing Innovation Culture Creates Value
Now that we’ve covered the basics of crowdsourcing innovation culture let’s examine how it can create value. In this context, value can be broken down into two categories: market value and moral value. Typically, one or both of these types of value is the driving force behind innovation programs as a whole. Crowdsourcing innovation culture works by addressing moral values (or the lack thereof) to influence the creation of market value through your innovation program. Essentially, it’s a tool for building a better brand image, encouraging intrapreneurship, and bettering business processes overall.
How to Approach a Cultural Shift
The first action item for innovation leaders crowdsourcing innovation culture is to prepare the company organizationally. Your innovation initiative can only be as successful as the business processes that support it. We’ve previously written a guide to evaluating organizational transformation readiness that contains a step-by-step guide to the process, which we highly recommend that you check out.
That being said, we’ll spare you all the juicy details in favor of providing a brief description. Efficiency is kind of our thing. In short, a cultural shift requires you to devise a plan, support it with the appropriate technology, and put it all in motion with incentivization. I know what you’re thinking, easier said than done, right? In the next few sections, we’ll provide a few concrete examples cultivated by the innovation experts at rready.
In light of the shift towards remote work, collecting feedback has become a bigger stumbling block than ever. Feedback is essential to crowdsourcing and innovation, meaning it should take precedence in your organizational preparation plan. Overall, there are three areas you should aim to pull feedback from:
- The market - Don’t underestimate the value of customer-centric innovation. Consumers have become increasingly concerned with ensuring their purchases and partnerships align with their values. Find out what those are and how your innovation culture can support them. Hint: ESG standards are an excellent place to start.
- Employees - They’re driving the boat, and you’re putting fuel into—the thingy. Whatever, I don’t know how boats work, but you get the idea. Employees will drive your innovation program, so their input is invaluable to its structurization.
- Your innovation ecosystem - An innovation ecosystem is a network of entities working cooperatively and competitively towards innovation. It could be made up of academic-industry collaborations, other businesses, or any other relevant organizations. Typically, it takes a great deal of time and effort to build this type of network. rready sought to change this by inviting each of our clients to join a pre-built, collaborative innovation ecosystem of KICKBOX* users.
*If you’re unfamiliar with our brand, the KICKBOX is our comprehensive innovation management solution—it comes with software as a service (SaaS,) crowdsourcing methodology coaching, employee engagement incentives, and an innovation ecosystem.
You know the saying, “Two heads are better than one?” By that logic, 100 heads providing feedback is incredible. Unfortunately, organizing and responding to all that feedback can get tricky. A feedback collection and organization software will support your efforts and help track the success of your innovation program as a whole.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: it’s always easier not to do something than it is to do it. Accordingly, innovation leaders will need to rise to the challenge by incentivizing participation. Crowdsourcing innovation culture will provide you with many of the clues you’ll need to piece together engagement initiatives. If you get stuck, rready has a few tricks up our sleeve that can make it easier—like gamification (a tangible approach to innovation). The goal is to improve the outlook your employees have not only on your company but their career as a whole.