Innovation Through Competition: Effective Innovation Systems Encourage Ideation
Whether the focus is on product development, service delivery, customer satisfaction, or market share capture, competition drives a company to improve its performance. Taking this to the next level, effective competitive systems encourage outstanding innovation, by allowing the best and brightest to tackle an organization’s biggest challenges.
Creating an internal competition is an excellent way to motivate your workforce to develop innovative solutions and new business opportunities. The most common structure is to form teams which compete to develop concepts, often working with mentors who provide guidance as needed. The teams present their projects to a panel of judges who select the best innovations for implementation. This process has the advantages of:
- Encouraging teamwork;
- Demonstrating trust in internal expertise; and
- Developing pathways for employees to participate in innovation regardless of job title or department.
The significant downside of this process is that it keeps innovation solely as an organizational process, which limits a company’s ability to develop a network of global contributors, which leads to improved market response.
External and Open Competitions
External competitions invite outside innovators to present their solutions to a given problem. Open competitions allow for both internal and external concept submissions. When external submissions are accepted, it is critical that the organization have an intellectual property protection system in place. This should be part of a comprehensive open innovation program that is supported by effective tools to manage the process from scouting through resolution.
External and open competitions give organizations the ability to
- Identify a broader range of solutions;
- Expand partnership opportunities with outside innovators; and
- Improve market responsiveness.
For companies supported by open innovation management technology, there is no downside to deploying an external competition.
Elements of a Successful Competition
A successful internal, external or open competition requires thought and planning. Be sure to:
- Identify a specific need or problem to be solved. Broad statements of need will result in ambiguous results. Be specific about what you want to accomplish, but give participants room to innovate.
- Set a specific timeframe. This can be two months, six months, or more, depending on the complexity of your problem. An open timeframe is only practical when you want to innovate a disruptive technology, rather than solve a specific challenge.
- Establish the evaluation criteria. This may include manufacturing requirements, the utilization of current capabilities, ensuring projects must project a specific ROI or other measures or demands.
- Encourage participation. Generate excitement for the competition by using scouting software, social media, and other resources to attract participants. Share the benefits of entering submissions, which could go beyond a declared “winner,” especially for companies with gamification programs in place.
Ezassi supports every type of competition with IP protections, scouting software, gamification processes, and more. Our Open Innovation Management Software Solution manages the entire workflow system, allowing you to maximize competition results. Request a demo or contact us to learn more.