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Social Innovation Management Thoughts

by: Will Klopp


February 28, 2013

For the past 20 years I have been coaching, mentoring and managing at some of the most innovative companies in the US across a spectrum of industries that include government, high tech, wireless/ mobile communications, real estate and finance. Through those experiences, Ive had a unique window into the processes that businesses have historically employed to generate ideas and drive growth. What Ive found is that the rate at which those ideas need to be cultivated has quickened significantly, and its continuing to accelerate. Currently I am planning my next endeavor into an arena I am passionate about: Social Innovation. Social innovation sometimes referred to as crowdsourcing, innovation management, mass collaboration or idea management is changing the world as we know it. Social innovation allows forward thinking companies to leverage the scale of their organization as well as integrate knowledge from outside resources. By empowering the edge and engaging employees with a purpose, they tap into the collective genius. Engagement is paramount to the overall success of social innovation so elements of fun and rewards are part of the game plan. As Spigit CEO, Paul Pluschkell stated We dont learn from the worldWe learn from engaging within the world The social innovation process engages the crowd to address strategic business challenges, which may include areas like revenue growth, process improvement or better engagement with employees, partners, and customers. Most organizations will minimally have the need to develop new vertical markets for their current product" and/or "reduce costs and increase operational efficiency.

So How Does It Work? It starts by having the required executive sponsorship truly committing to the process of social innovation. Leadership must be willing to take the good with the bad, potentially opening the organization up to what might be perceived as disruptive change. The continuum of innovation must be part of the corporate DNA. The process of social innovation cannot be executives merely checking off a checkbox that says we utilize innovation management tools but who dont really want to give up control. In most cases this way of thinking is contrary to the traditional methodologies of management pushing down ideas and direction, and shifts more towards a focus on pulling from the edge to the core. Social Innovation due to its reliance on engaging the crowd must keep that crowd involved and entertained. Social innovation engines, like Spigit and others, use gamification or game mechanics to achieve this result. By essentially taking the addictive elements around what makes a game work and incorporating them into the technology platform it makes the ideation and innovation management process fun and entertaining. These engaging elements keep the crowd engrossed in the process and that is what effectively drives results for the organization. Implementation methodologies which may include leader boards, virtual currency, recognition and reputation building are keys to success.

Where Does All The Data Reside (Single System of Record)? Innovation management solutions, products like SpigitEngage and BrightIdeas Innovation Suite, are Software as a Service (SaaS) but also offer Services. They provide an innovation engine that acts as the single system of record for innovation across your organization, client base and vendors. Engagement leads to massive amounts of data that should be stored in an intelligent repository or what can be referred to as a Single System of Record. A robust, searchable system that allows your organization easy access to the information you need, when you need it. The front end of a social innovation platform is typically where engagement challenges are posted, ideas are shared and commented on and validation of the ideas or solutions surfaces.

The back end is where the science, text mapping and text mining, filtering, synthesizing of data into useful information, detailed analysis and alignment with corporate processes take place. Market leaders in innovation management solutions are typically integrated or compatible with many social and business platforms including Sharepoint, Yammer, Facebook, and Jive to name a few. When selecting a social innovation solution the ability to integrate with many social platforms is important. Crowdsourcing and collective intelligence may not merely apply to a collection of people, but could be applicable to a collection of systems on a more global scale.

"Innovation is inherently a creative and social activity, and tracking innovation has emerged as the first 'killer app' to demonstrate the transformative impact social software will have on business." - Matthew Greeley, CEO of BrightIdea.

Avoid Implementation Pitfalls


In an emerging market such as social innovation understanding the difference in solutions and capabilities is of paramount concern. In this space there is a wide array of product and solution offerings that are not all created equal. Organizations that recognize social innovation as a competitive differentiator (i.e. key to survival) and have implemented innovation management and engagement solutions number in the thousands. Launching a social innovation platform requires knowledge and experience as well as the ability of the solution provider to understand key performance indicators (KPIs) and internal processes. To achieve success on a professional scale it will be imperative to work with a solution provider with decades of combined experience in the innovation arena. Value must be the driver!!! This is not a commodity purchase. Caveat Emptor: There are a lot of companies that use social innovation terminology and even offer software as a service (SaaS) but dont offer services in the form of partnering with you to bring their collective experience to the table. All I can say is buyer beware. Make sure you do your due diligence and choose a

partner to work with that has a proven track record for success. Most cutting edge companies in the social innovation space have numerous case studies detailing their prowess in multiple industries including, but not limited to, financial/banking, government, industrial, healthcare, telecom, consumer products groups and utilities.

Elements to Optimize Social Innovation Return On Investment (ROI) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Executive Sponsorship Seamlessly link innovation engine to existing business processes Define Success ( Specific Quantifiable Goals) Engage the Crowd - Sustain and Grow Employee, Client and Vendor participation (recognition/feedback/commitment/follow-thru) Utilize Innovation Champions to insure ideas are well developed. Ideation Evaluation and Analysis (prioritization meaningful and actionable) Implementation Focused should be the end-game from go. Without Executives taking the ideas from concept to implementation reality, programs will likely fail due to frustrated employees who actively engaged in the process but management failed to act on their efforts. Measure Success you cant manage what you cant measure. Benchmark results against industry averages. Understand your engagement metrics and participation rates so you can build on them. Determine how effective your challenges are and dont be afraid to review and modify your process as you grow your social innovation programs.

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Social innovation is changing the world and, from where I sit, will create a marketplace larger than that of the CRM arena. Working together by engaging the crowd will allow us to change the world!! Join the movement today!! Will Klopp 408.483.2900 (cell) wklopp@gmail.com