WHITE PAPER – CROWDSOURCING INNOVATION
“I am looking for a lot of people who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.”
Too many times innovation is hindered by the internal perception that “this has already been tried and can’t be done”. As Henry Ford stated, with the right environment a lot of people can and will share ideas on things that sometimes experts consider are not feasible, either because they have a partial perception of the market place or because their views on what is needed is limited by second hand reports.
This is where crowdsourcing innovation comes into place.
A medical device company realized that they were losing market share to a competitor for one of their products–a bone healing device– because its mechanism of action (MOA) could not be used on patients with casts.
In order for the machine to work effectively, the transducer needed to touch the patient’s skin to accelerate the process through every stage of healing. Their most loyal customers reported to the sales force their current dilemma: when a casted patient needed the intervention, they would choose an alternative product and had already slowly begun to switch their orders to the competitor.
After spending time with R&D trying to find a solution, it was evident that the various proposed solutions were either too expensive, too complicated to implement, or they would have needed a complete redesign of the device and associated procedure.
Until the day when an employee of the company came up with the idea of “windowing” the cast. A simple concept: to create window the size of the transducer, which would permit the device to touch the patient’s skin and to work as before; a safe, effective and painless treatment clinically proven to speed up the body’s natural bone healing process.
The solution and the outcome were clear, the representatives had a new tool to sell (a windowing kit) and the company’s market share went up
INNOVATION IS UBIQUITOUS
Although many companies still think that innovation relates mainly to their products, it can in fact be found everywhere: Distribution, Customer service, Manufacturing, Processes, Operations and even overall company environment. In another example, one of our client, a biosimilar manufacturer, was searching for ways to make their product better. By the own nature of the product, innovation was not to be found at the molecular level or in the manufacturing process. Listening to technicians on the way they compounded the drugs, asking them to share what innovation they thought could be added to make their life easier, and even to take pictures and videos of the way they were preparing their drugs, we made them establish a list of potential innovation and vote on the most interesting ones. A quick study of cost-feasibility with our client enabled us to recommend “low hanging fruits” that could be implemented immediately and at little cost, to the greatest satisfaction of the final user.
ASK YOURSELF THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
Crowdsourcing innovation is a process whereby you leverage communities on the internet to ask large quantities of people to contribute to your innovation process. Before using the crowd you should ask yourself the following questions(*):
- Will the expected output answer key business needs?
- What will be the value proposition towards participants?
- Will the organization be able to motivate and incentivize participation?
- Are there adequate resources and capabilities within the organization to manage the process?
- Are there effective filters, such as the crowd itself, that can effectively identify what is valuable?
- Will the business benefits exceed the added costs and risks?
- Should the invitation be open or closed?
- Can anyone participate or should there be criteria of approval?
- What information should be provided and what should be kept secret?
- Should the participants see each other’s ideas or contributions?
- How should own and participant’s intellectual property rights be managed?
Developing an ecosystem that fosters innovation within your team or your clients is perfectly feasible with the right approach.
As shown in the figure below, a crowdsourcing platform, (such as Medimix IdeaSource™), will enable you to engage online – in a secure cloud based environment – your team or your clients, whether they are hundreds, thousands or hundreds of thousands.
This open innovation platform can be used among your employees (internal sourcing) your customers (external sourcing) or the entire world. It enables you to identify new ideas that not only are original, but also are acclaimed by your team.
Crowdsourcing however requires a rigorous approach that combines the following 7 key-aspects:
- MOTIVATION: Platform needs to be provide a fun environment conducive to sharing ideas
- GOALS: Explain to your audience the specific challenge you want to solve and your objective
- ANONIMITY: Contributors need not to fear to propose even a “dumb” idea
- CROSS-FERTILIZATION: Platform must offer ways to breed ideas by mixing them
- RECOGNITION: All contributors need to be recognized, even if for ideas not implemented
- ACCEPTANCE: Innovation need to accepted by the crowd, as they are going to use it
- FOLLOW-UP: you need to be committed to develop the ideas that are selected
As Winston Churchill once said “No idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered”.
CHOOSING AND IMPLEMENTING INNOVATION
Once the list of innovations is gathered, we typically classify them in 4 categories according to the complexity of the implementation and the impact it has on your business:
The “low hanging fruits”, need to be implemented in priority. They are easy to implement and will quickly create a positive impact on your team.
The “must does” are hard nuts to crack: their impact will be important on your business, and they might be voted for by a majority of participants. They however remain difficult to implement, and require more resources.
The “cherry on the top” are easy to implement but not that impactful. You might want to keep them to motivate the crowd, showing that ideas are indeed implemented, even if you know that the impact would be limited.
Finally the “dragon fruits” are difficult to implement and not very impactful. We also call them the “fake good ideas”
The following table shows an example of innovation we proposed to implement according to this classification. It is part of Medimix standard delivery with IdeaCloud™
WHY SHOULD YOU OUTSOURCE THIS PROCESS?
There are different reasons why this process should be outsourced to an expert:
- Anonymity. With avatars, some employees can remain truly anonymous, resulting in higher participation and greater creativity
- Benchmark. An external team will share best practices across different cases, and might be more objective about disruptive ideas
- Expertise. Crowd management, Social Media, Ideas analysis are full time jobs. Hiring experts helps you concentrate on yours
- Time. Reading, sorting, analyzing thousands of ideas, moderating discussions, curating forums takes time. Do you have some?
- Firewall. A third-party can firewall discussions if innovations are not chosen, or can help arbitrate disagreements
- Commitment. Hiring innovation experts shows a strong commitment to change and sends a positive message to your team
Outsourcing the crowdsourcing process also enables you to focus on the implementation of change. You need to be prepared to walk the talk and act as nothing frustrates more a crowd than asking their participation and not acting on it!
THE ACTUAL CHERRY ON THE TOP
With the appropriate technology, crowdsourcing innovation can be implemented quickly and is affordable. A typical employee program reaching out to thousands of team members around the world can be completed in an 8 weeks period and delivers results immediately.
It is also a great initiative to boost the morale of troops or to strengthen the ties with your customers.
For more information on how crowdsourcing innovation can help you implement a real culture of change, please call or contact:
Henry Gazay, CEO Medimix International Kathryn McAdam, BD Director
Direct Line: + 1 973 845 4378 Direct Line: +1 786-363-4602
(*)Source : http://tbmdb.blogspot.com/2010/01/using-crowd-as-part-of-business-model.html