Photo by Nik MacMillan
In the first post, we introduced the idea or concept of how consumers have changed, morphed thanks to innovation in commerce and technology, into proactive consumers - or prosumers. In this post, we’ll take a look at how you can satisfy their desire to become a part of your corporate innovation process, without the risks that might come with opening up the discussion about where your company is going and how you plan to get there.
Like the idea of prosumers, open innovation is a new trend that many corporations and organizations are trying to embrace. But if you think of the different parts of a corporation as guests at a party, the innovation team is like the shy group that has trust issues - after all, their job is take the company in a new direction, while safeguarding proprietary information. It’s a tall order. So how do you open up this team or this department to your prosumers and invite them into the process, all while mitigating the risk? We’ll take a look at five ways to incrementally bring prosumers into your corporate innovation, address the risks and how to mitigate them.
Innovation Workshops - identify and contact a small but representative group of your prosumers and invite them to an in-person event. By physically bringing your prosumers into an environment you can control, the risks are easier to deal with. In an in-person event, for example, you can request that prosumers sign a participation agreement with a nondisclosure clause drawn up by your legal team. This closed environment is also free from prying eyes that might say, see the engagement with your prosumers in an open online forum. This type of event can also include focus groups.
Empowering Employees - when you create a framework for your employees to act as champions for client feedback, ideas and innovation, you can capture lots of ideas. Employees who interact with clients on a daily basis hear lots of ideas and comments from these prosumers, but without a way of capturing these bits of gold, employees don’t have a way of making use of these ideas. Or worse, they feel and look powerless in the eyes of your prosumers. The main risk here is that idea gets disassociated from its creator. When you create a method for employees to collect the ideas, be sure to include ways of gathering contact information.
Hosting a Hackathon - or other challenge type event, open to a large group of people, either online or in person. Hosting a larger event of this type has a bit more risk associated with it, but the potential for rewards or positive outcomes is also amplified. Gathering large groups of people in a fun, competitive atmosphere generally turns out great results. Large events like this tend to be a bit more public, but a clear registration process will help to ensure that the participants are your prosumers, rather than competitors, and will provide ample opportunity to have them sign an event specific agreement.
An Open Idea Submission Form or Forum - this allows anyone, at any time that an idea strikes them, to submit it to the innovation team within your corporation. A form or forum of this type, generally results in a large number of ideas. This volume is where the risk lies. With this type of submission tool, the risk is that not all ideas will be actionable, within your budget or meaningful. This means that you either need a resource or an algorithm to sift through many of the ideas. Another risk created by the volume of ideas, is being able to respond to and thank all of the idea creators. Setting up an automation process or automated email response is one way of dealing with this risk.
An Open, and Interactive Ideation or Innovation Platform - where your prosumers can submit ideas, collaborate, respond to challenges and more. Now you’re probably reading the word “open” there and thinking but how can you possibly avoid risks with an open platform. With a tool like Idea Hunt’s open innovation platform, you can achieve the open innovation and collaboration that you want, without leaving yourself open to risk. Idea Hunt offers varying degrees of visibility, allowing you to restrict access to content unless a user is logged into the platform. The administrator panel gives you access to all users so you can quickly identify if there is someone there that shouldn’t be, and block them. With the registration process, you can collect additional information about your prosumers, including their contact information. This enables you to better reach them, collaborate with them, and reward them for their engagement.
Open innovation has risks associated with it, but through planning and preparation, you work to alleviate some of those risks. Through user agreements or nondisclosure agreements at events you can protect yourself if something does leak. Through communication, and explanation, you can explain the reason for the project and empower your prosumers as active participants. In short, open innovation and its success within your company, is up to you. Your prosumers are waiting to be invited into your innovation process, and they’re full of new ideas, perspectives and constructive feedback if you are ready to embrace them.