Tag Archives: Crowdsourcing

Co-creating Future-fit Organizations

Co-creating Future-fit Organizations

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

In our second blog in this series of three, we opened the door to a threshold for a new kind of co-creative, collaborative and cohesive team spirit that catalyzes change through “innovation evangelism”. Focusing on building both internal and external talent, through empowering, equipping, and enabling internally cohesive and effective innovation teams.  They apply their collaborative and collective intelligence towards initiating open innovation initiatives co-creating future-fit organizations that are human-centric, adaptive, engaging, inclusive, collaborative, innovative, accountable, and digitally enabled.

Innovation evangelists are change catalysts who courageously experiment with different business models and processes, to crowdsource broad and deep innovation capabilities. Usually in new ways that breakthrough corporate antibodies and barriers and deliver sustainable, meaningful, and purposeful change.  Where, according to the recent Ideascale “Crowd Sourced Innovation Report 2021”crowdsourced innovation capabilities have grown and innovation output indicators like implementation rate and time to implement have improved. In fact, businesses that were able to rapidly adapt and focus on innovation(in 2020) are poised to outperform their peers in the coming years”.

Innovation teams don’t innovate

The purpose of an innovation team is to create a safe environment that unlocks organizational and its key external stakeholder’s collective intelligence and innovation agility (capacity, competence, and confidence) to build the capability to change as fast as change itself.

Where the goal is to create a high performing, connected, and networked workplace culture where people:

  • Understand and practice the common language of innovation, what exactly it means in their organizational context, as well as exactly what value means to current and potential customers as well as to the organization,
  • Develop a shared narrative or story about why innovation is crucial towards initiating and sustaining future success,
  • Have the time and space to deeply connect, collaborate, and co-create value, internally and externally with customers, suppliers, and other primary connection points to build external talent communities and value-adding ecosystems,
  • Maximize differences and diversity of thought within customers as well as within communities and ecosystems,
  • Generate urgency and creative energy to innovate faster than competitors,
  • Feel safe and have permission to freely share ideas, wisdom, knowledge, information, resources, and perspectives, with customers as well as across communities and ecosystems.

How innovation teams learn and develop

Sustaining success in today’s uncertain, unstable, and highly competitive business environment is becoming increasingly dependent on people’s and team’s abilities to deeply learn, adapt and grow. Yet most people and a large number of organizations don’t yet seem to value learning and adaptiveness as performance improvement enablers, especially in enabling people and teams to thrive in a disruptive world.  Nor do they understand how people learn, nor how to strategically develop peoples’ learning agility towards potentially co-creating future-fit organizations that sustain high-impact in VUCA times.

At ImagineNation™ we have integrated the four E’s of learning at work; Education, Experience, Environment, and Exposure with 12 key determining factors for co-creating future-fit organizations that sustain high-impact in VUCA times through our innovation team development, change, learning, and coaching programs.

Case Study Example

  1. Educational customisation and alignment

After conducting desktop research and key stakeholder sensing interviews, we customized our innovation education curriculum specifically to align with the learning needs of the innovation team.

We aligned the program design to the organization’s strategic imperatives, values, and leadership behaviors, we reviewed the results of the previous culture, climate and engagement surveys, as well as the range of business transformation initiatives. We then applied design thinking principles to “bring to life” the trends emerging, diverging, and converging in our client’s and their customer’s industry sectors.

Focusing on:

  • enabling people to perform well in their current roles,
  • building people’s long-term career success,
  • developing their long-term team leadership and membership development capabilities,
  • laying the foundations for impacting collectively towards co-creating future-fit organizations.
  1. Experiential learning a virtual and remote environment

We designed and offered a diverse and engaging set of high-value learning and development experiences that included a range of stretch and breakthrough assignments as part of their personal and team development process.

Focusing on:

  • encouraging people to engage in a set of daily reflective practices,
  • offering a series of customized agile macro learning blended learning options, that could be viewed or consumed over short periods of time,
  • engaging playful activities and skills practice sessions, with structured feedback and debrief discussions,
  • providing an aligned leadership growth individual and team assessment process,
  • introducing key criteria for establishing effective team cohesion and collaboration,
  • linking team action learning activities and evidence-based assignments to their strategic mandate ensuring their collective contribution towards co-creating future-fit organizations.
  1. Environment to support and encourage deep learning

We aimed at creating permission, tolerance, and a safe learning environment for people to pause, retreat, reflect, and respond authentically and effectively, to ultimately engage and upskill people in new ways of being, thinking, and acting towards co-creating future-fit organizations.

Focusing on:

  • developing peoples discomfort resilience and change readiness,
  • encouraging people to be empathic, courageous, and compassionate with one another, to customers as well as to those they were seeking to persuade and influence,
  • allowing and expecting mistakes to be made and valued as learning opportunities and encouraging smart risk-taking,
  • reinforcing individual learning as personal responsibility and team learning as a mutual responsibility and establishing a learning buddy system to support accountability,
  • offering a series of one-on-one individual coaching sessions to set individual goals and support people and the teams’ “on the job” applications.
  1. Exposure to different and diverse learning modalities

We designed a range of immersive microlearning bots by providing regular, consistent, linked, multimedia learning options and a constantly changing range of different and diverse learning modalities.

Focusing on:

  • providing an informative and targeted reading list and set of website links,
  • setting a series of coordinated thought leading webinars, videos, podcasts, and magazine articles aligned to deliver the desired learning outcomes,
  • outlining fortnightly targeted team application and reinforcement tasks,
  • helping the team to collaborate and set and communicate their passionate purpose, story, and key outputs to the organization to build their credibility and self-efficacy,
  • designing bespoke culture change initiatives that the innovation team could catalyse across the organization to shift mindsets and behaviors to make innovation a habit for everyone, every day.

Collectively contributing to the good of the whole

Co-creating future-fit organizations require creativity, compassion, and courage to co-create the space and freedom to discuss mistakes, ask questions, and experiment with new ideas. To catalyse change and help shift the workplace culture as well as crowdsource possibilities through open innovation.

In ways, that are truly collaborative, and energize, catalyze, harness, and mobilize people’s and customers’ collective genius, in ways that are appreciated and cherished by all. To ultimately collectively co-create a future-fit organization that contributes to an improved future, for customers, stakeholders, leaders, teams, organizations as well as for the good of the whole.

This is the final blog in a series of three about catalyzing change through innovation teams, why innovation teams are important in catalyzing culture change, and what an innovation team does, and how they collectively contribute toward co-creating the future-fit organization.

Find out about our learning products and tools, including The Coach for Innovators Certified Program, a collaborative, intimate, and deep personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 8-weeks, starting Tuesday, October 19, 2021.

It is a blended and transformational change and learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of a human-centred approach and emergent structure (Theory U) to innovation, within your unique context. Find out more

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The Future of Fractional Employees

The Future of Fractional Employees

In my last article 10 Reasons to Hire a Part-Time Chief Innovation Officer, I looked at the reasons why an organization might want to hire someone part-time to lead their innovation efforts (a follow-up to my previous post Hiring the Right Chief Innovation Officer).

Now I’d like to explore the idea of a fractional employee in a much broader context with you. A few years ago in my popular white paper Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation commissioned by Innocentive, I introduced the idea of building a global sensing network along with other ways that companies can reach outside their four walls to speed up their ability to innovate. I have continued since then to hypothesize that successful organizations of the future will possess more porous boundaries, becoming less like castles keeping everything inside their walls and more like atoms, freely combining with other atoms to form the molecules the market requires just-in-time.

Organization of the Future

Purpose and Passion

One of the key tenets of this belief is that purpose and passion are the key to unlocking the full potential of any human, and that inherently companies do a very job of unlocking either in their quest to match resumes with job descriptions.

In an effort to develop and retain employees, and fill discrete project needs, some companies are reaching beyond the job description to try and tap into more of the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the people they hire. One way this happens is through HR initiatives like the internal internships at Cisco, where a Finance employee with an interest or passion for marketing, could do an internal internship in Marketing, spending a small number of hours each week working on a discrete project with a resource need.

Outside of the organization, there are an increasing number of avenues for employees to use their un-tapped knowledge, skills, and employees to satisfy their quest for passion and purpose. These include challenge driven marketplaces for both crowdsourcing and open innovation, places like Innocentive, 99 Designs, Idea Connection, Crowdspring, and others.

Traveling the Hyperloop Ten Hours a Week

But now, we are starting to see direct to talent (DTT) models emerge. The latest example of the fractional employee model comes from Dirk Ahlborn of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), rethinking how companies are built in the first place. Instead of hiring full-time, salaried employees, Ahlborn has decided to crowdsource the labor to part-time workers and offer stock options in lieu of salary, successfully attracting about 450 workers, based in more than a dozen countries, moonlighting from organizations like NASA and Boeing.

HTT requires crowdsourced labor to commit to a 10-hour workweek to be eligible for stock. “The guys are working for stock options — they’re doing 10 times better job [than paid employees],” says Dirk Ahlborn.

Companies like Aecom, one of the world’s largest engineering design firms, are joining individuals in participating in the potentially “transformative” project, as a way to get employees executing mundane projects for the company to also get excited about building something new.

“I always tell everyone it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Ahlborn says. With 450 workers accumulated over the past couple of years and growing, Ahlborn adds, “It is becoming a movement.”

The Way Forward

From internal internships, to challenge-driven external innovation, to crowdsourced projects, to fractional employee initiatives, the world of work is changing as companies seek to accelerate to match the pace of continuous change and the continuous innovation expectations that come along with it.

If we go back to the Organization of the Future graphic above, you’ll see that job descriptions often overlap not just with employee knowledge, skills, and abilities but those of customers, partners, suppliers, and other employees as well.

Organizations seeking to increase their organizational agility will not only use tools like the Change Planning Toolkit™ but will also change their thinking about how they get work do

ne and will do a better job of recognizing when and where to tap into the abilities of other employees, partners, suppliers, and even customers to achieve the outcomes that will allow them to continue to surprise and delight their customers, clients, or constituents.

And this means embracing a fractional employee future.

Are you ready?

Get the Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation white paper

Sources: Innovation Excellence, MSN

This article was originally featured on Linkedin


P.S. If you’re looking to hire a Chief Innovation Officer (an Innovation Enablement Leader) on a full-time or part-time basis, drop me an email and I can either tackle the role or find someone else who can!


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Announcing the Crowd Computing Revolution

Designing Work for Man and Machine to Do Together

Announcing the Crowd Computing RevolutionI am proud to bring you a downloadable PDF of a piece I created on The Crowd Computing Revolution and the redesign of work that is now possible thanks to new technology tools and business architecture thinking that will allow man and machine to work more efficiently together than ever before.

Anyone who has read even one or two science fiction books or watched one or two SciFi movies inevitably finds themselves dreaming of a day when machines will free of us of some of the mundane tasks in our lives. Companies dream of this too. Witness the eagerness of companies to outsource entire job functions (or even more recently whole business processes) to third parties either onshore or offshore. Hackers and spammers have become quite adept at programming their machines to send emails to people or attempt to break through security around the clock, around the globe. We have built automated factories, interactive voice response systems, and devised all kinds of ways to put machines to work for us.

Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School at the University of Toronto has a simple framework from his treatise on Design Thinking titled The Design of Business, that shows how as we learn more about a knowledge (or work) area, our understanding and abilities allow us to move the piece of knowledge (or work) from something that is mysterious and performed in an ad hoc way by experts, to a level of maturity where we start to observe the patterns (or heuristics) in the knowledge area (or piece of work), to a stage where the work or knowledge is well-understood and can be reduced to an algorithm (or set of best practices) performed by lower skilled employees, and possibly even implemented as a piece of code to be executed by a robot or computer.

Knowledge Funnel

Source: The Design of Business by Roger Martin

But, as alluded to earlier, companies have not only become more comfortable with designing work to be executed by machines instead of employees, but also more amenable to many different sizes and shapes of work being completed by people outside the organization, including:

  1. Entire job functions (Contractors or Outsourcing Firms – Global Outsourcing Market was $95 Billion in 2011)
  2. Whole business processes (Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Firms – 2011 Market in excess of $11 Billion)
  3. Projects or initiatives (Outside Consultants)
  4. Discrete tasks (99Designs, Crowdspring, etc.)
  5. Micro tasks (Amazon Mechanical Turk, etc.)

Task and Micro-Task Division

Task and Micro-task Division

Over time the human race has moved from building simple machines that function as tools (like a forklift), allowing a man to do more with the help of the machine, to building machines and robots capable of completing a whole task (like painting a car or making an exact copy of a document). Has anyone seen a help wanted advertisement for a scribe lately? Meanwhile, our fully automated manufacturing and packaging plants use machines to complete an entire process. But machines aren’t suitable for every kind of work. They are appropriate for tasks that are well-defined and repeated continuously as part of a standardized process, but not a proper fit for tasks where judgment is required, particularly tasks with numerous exceptions, variability, or personalization.

As a result, typically machines and robots have been relegated most often to the production areas of a business, places where it has been easy to define specific tasks or even whole processes that can be designed for machines or robots to own and complete 24/7/365 if necessary.


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Rethinking Who (or What) Does the Work

Crowd Computing Part 2Rise of the Crowd

There is another growing trend that is now rivaling the growing power of robotics and automation – crowdsourcing. It all started with prizes like The Longitude Prize, but now thanks to the power of the Internet, companies and individuals all around the world are breaking down their projects and processes and tapping into the power of the crowd using loosely-organized, non-employee workforces like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to execute micro-tasks, getting whole tasks completed through sites like Top Coder and Crowdspring, or calling upon the crowd to solve difficult challenges using sites like Innocentive, NineSigma, and Idea Connection. Sites like these enable organizations to access knowledge, expertise, perspectives, or capacity that they don’t currently have in their organization (or to possibly to get a task or challenge completed at a lower cost). Check out my white paper Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation to learn more about this topic and some of the strategies for successfully leveraging external talent.

Rise of the Business Architect

Our organizations face an innovation imperative amidst intensifying competition that is forcing an increasing number of industries to become commoditized. This increasing need for a sustained level of innovation and a requirement for innovation to be a repeatable and sustainable activity, has led to an increasing number of organizations to consciously design their approaches to the new businesses that they enter. This has led to the growth of two new business disciplines – business architecture and social business architecture.

NIH Business Architecture

Source: National Institute of Health

Business Architecture, according to Wikipedia, is “a modern technology-oriented business occupation…. Working as a change agent with senior business stakeholders, the business architect plays a key part in shaping and fostering continuous improvement and business transformation initiatives. Business architects lead efforts aiming at building an effective architecture for the business process management (BPM) projects that make up the business change programme. The business architect implements business models that require business technology to work effectively.”

Social Business Intersections Social Business Connections

Social Business Architecture on the other hand, facilitates and optimizes the group dynamics and interactions inside the organization, and Social Business Architects specialize in identifying the different parts of an organization that need to interact with groups of people outside the organization, how those parts of the organization should work together to communicate with people outside the organization, and help to identify and implement communications solutions that connect the organization with the target groups so that a meaningful connection and conversation can be built, and then helps to manage the conversations and the information and learnings from their outcomes for the benefit of the organization.

Social Business Attraction Social Business Engagement

Few organizations employ or are even yet aware of the need for Social Business Architects, but there are an increasing number of help wanted postings for Business Architects. This is because not only do organizations recognize the need to architect their new lines of business for maximum efficiency and to , but also because there are so many different ways that work can be executed (employees, contractors, consultants, outsourcing, business process outsourcing (BPO), crowdsourcing, and micro-task execution, that for maximum efficiency it now increasingly requires someone to investigate all of the options, break down the work to be done into jobs, projects and processes, tasks and microtasks so that the right resources can be hired, contracted, briefed, or otherwise engaged to ensure that everything is completed as quickly and as cheaply as possible.

A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing

Investigating Examples of Crowd Computing

The Crowd Computing Revolution - Part ThreeMoving from The Design of Business to Redesigning Work

Business Architects have the opportunity to plan for the organization how work can move from mystery to heuristics to algorithms to code. Business Architects (or people filling this role in an organization) have the opportunity to redesign work in the most efficient way possible to leverage both man and machine to get the work done at the lowest cost possible. Technology now exists to allow Business Architects and managers to move beyond allocating work on a job, project, or process basis, and instead design flexible workflows that combine the use of humans and machines to complete the tasks that they are best suited for, or even for humans to augment the work of machines.

For example, imagine that you work in the purchasing department at a large multinational and every month you receive hundreds or thousands of invoices from suppliers all over the world in all different kinds of formats – electronic, mailed paper invoices, PDFs, scanned paper invoices, and even faxed invoices. Your job as purchasing (or accounts payable) manager is to track all of the invoices that you receive, get them entered into your ERP system, and ultimately make sure that they get paid. You can hire or use an existing employee or contractor to manually key them all in, or sign a big dollar outsourcing deal sufficient to support the hiring, training, and management of offshore resources by the outsourcer, or you could try and use OCR software to do the job, but it would fail because of the great deal of variability in both the input sources and formatting of the documents and you’ll end up needing human resources to interpret the OCR output anyways.

Crowd Computing Invoice Processing Example

Or, you could examine the workflow of the process and identify which micro-tasks humans are best suited to perform and which micro-tasks machines are most efficient and cost-effective at performing. Then assign the right micro-task to the right resource. In the case of human resources, this could be an employee, a contractor, an external expert, or even a resource you don’t even know or control (via a crowd workforce like Amazon Mechanical Turk, Elance, etc.). And finally for each micro-task, assign a level of confidence in the quality of the assigned resource’s output and a define a process for grading it. In situations where you have a high level of confidence in the micro-task’s output quality, you can move directly on to the next micro-task in the workflow, but if you have a low level of confidence in a particular micro-task output performed by a machine, assign an alternate process to validate that output (such as using someone via Amazon Mechanical Turk to validate that “yes, this is a purchase order number”).

But that is not all that is possible these days. It is now possible for systems that facilitate the management of this kind of atomized work structure definition and workflow management and assignment, like those from Crowd Computing Systems, to also use artificial intelligence to both learn from the corrections that humans are making to a machine-driven, micro-task execution to get more accurate in the future, but also to learn how to do micro-tasks that humans are currently performing without machine assistance and to help identify the best performing crowd resources to inform work allocation decisions and to perform overall output quality optimization.

Conclusion

In much the same way that outsourcing felt awkward 20-25 years ago and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) felt foreign a decade ago, the time has come for crowd computing to begin to be a tool that managers and Business Architects can keep in their toolbox to better allocate work across man and machine. The time is now for man and machine to work together in ways that they never have before, and to learn from each other. The time has come for businesses and work to not just be operated and executed, but designed for maximum efficiency. Should we be afraid as workers that the machines are going to take away our jobs and leave us with nothing to do?

No. In much the same way that tractors and steam shovels began freeing man and beast from back breaking work nearly two hundred years ago, there are many benefits for man to gain from the crowd computing revolution – the biggest being freedom from an increasing amount of mind numbing work. Organizations that embrace crowd computing stand to gain not only to potentially lower processing costs for many high volume processes, but also will benefit from acquiring the ability to reassign analysts and other highly-skilled and trained employees to higher value work – better leveraging their existing human resources while simultaneously increasing employee satisfaction, retention, and knowledge creation in the enterprise. Are you ready for the crowd computing revolution?

Click Here to Download The Crowd Computing Revolution PDF

Sources:

http://speakology101.com/welcome/2012/05/21/break-it-down-tasks-sequencing/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/martin-ford/job-automation-is-a-futur_b_832146.html
http://www.statista.com/statistics/189788/global-outsourcing-market-size-since-2000/
http://www.rediff.com/business/report/bpo-market-to-be-worth-14-bn-in-2011/20110412.htm


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Building Virtual Diplomacy

Building Virtual DiplomacyThe Setup

Lets look at Innovation, Crowdsourcing, and the United States Government for a minute…

The world continues to move faster than ever and diplomatic responses from the United States are required that are both increasingly more complex and more urgent, and the required solutions must address the inherent situational challenges while also protecting the interests of the United States and its allies. To deal with this diplomatic reality, the United States State Department is embracing the principles of crowdsourcing, eGovernment, and open innovation and partnering with America’s best universities to help solve the World’s biggest challenges as part of a new initiative called Diplomacy Lab. I found the following after meandering through a bread crumb trail of tweets from @AlecJRoss (Hillary Clinton’s former Chief Innovation Officer):

Diplomacy Lab is designed to address two priorities: first, Secretary Kerry’s determination to engage the American people in the work of diplomacy. And second, the imperative to broaden the State Department’s research base in response to a proliferation of complex global challenges. The initiative enables the State Department to “course-source” research and innovation related to foreign policy by harnessing the efforts of students and faculty experts at universities across the country. Students participating in Diplomacy Lab explore real-world challenges identified by the Department and work under the guidance of faculty members who are authorities in their fields. This initiative allows students to contribute directly to the policymaking process while helping the State Department tap into an underutilized reservoir of intellectual capital. Teams that develop exceptional results and ideas are recognized for their work and may be invited to brief senior State Department officials on their findings.

This then led to me to information about another digital diplomacy program.

US State Department Harnesses Interns Around the Globe to Address Digital Needs

During Hillary Clinton’s tenure, the United States State Department introduced an eIntern program, as detailed on the State Department web site:

Virtual Student Foreign ServiceThe Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) is part of a growing effort by the State Department to harness technology and a commitment to global service among young people to facilitate new forms of diplomatic engagement. Working from college and university campuses in the United States and throughout the world, eInterns (American students working virtually) are partnered with our U.S. diplomatic posts overseas and State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the U.S. Commercial Service domestic offices to conduct digital diplomacy that reflects the realities of our networked world. This introductory video provides an overview of the VSFS program.

VSFS eIntern duties and responsibilities will vary according to the location and needs of the VSFS projects identified at the sponsoring domestic or overseas diplomatic office. VSFS projects may be research based, contributing to reports on issues such as human rights, economics or the environment. They may also be more technology oriented, such as working on web pages, or helping produce electronic journals. Selected students are expected to work virtually on an average of 5-10 hours per week on VSFS eInternship projects. Students apply in the summer and if selected, begin the eInternship that fall lasting through spring. Most work and projects are internet-based and some have language requirements. Past projects asked students to:

  • Develop and implement a public relations campaign using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, etc. to communicate and reach out to youth
  • Conduct research on the economic situation, prepare graphic representations of economic data, and prepare informational material for the U.S. Embassy website
  • Create a system to gather and analyze media coverage on a set of topics including environment, health, and trade
  • Develop a series of professional instructional video clips to be published by the U.S. Embassy
  • Survey social media efforts of U.S. diplomatic posts, NGOs, and private companies around the world to help establish best practices in a U.S. Embassy’s social media outreach business plan.

The Conclusion

It is fascinating to see the world changing before our eyes and to see the children and young people of today engaged in commerce and government and entrepreneurship in ways that weren’t available to previous generations of young people. This only helps to accelerate the pace of change. But, the reality is that when an organization sits at the fork in the road and is making the decision of whether or not to actively engage people outside their four walls in their strategic efforts, the choice really is to either ride the crest of the wave by embracing and engaging talent outside your organization or choosing instead to get tumbled and drowned by this wave of progress by doing nothing.

What choice is your government or your organization making?

If you’re not sure how your government or your organization needs to change to adapt to these changing realities, check out my previous article:

What is the Role of Personal Branding in Achieving Innovation Success?


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Where Must Marketing Innovation Come From?

Where Must Marketing Innovation Come From?The world of marketing and advertising used to be very simple. If you got a branding or marketing job with a company, you would inherit an agency that the person above you or before you had hired to work with the company to get your advertising and marketing campaigns developed and executed. After a few years if you worked in an agency you might go work for a company and manage an agency, or after a few years working in marketing or advertising for a company you might leave to go work for an agency, and this cycle might repeat several times over the course of your career.

In this simple environment, companies looked to their agencies to bring them innovations in marketing and/or advertising.

But this simple world of marketing and advertising is being disrupted and made more complex in the same way that many other industries are (think book publishing, book retailing, management consulting, etc.).

We live in an era where people have more places in which they can collect and share experiences, both on-line and off-line. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, hundreds of cable TV channels, hundreds of satellite radio channels, on-demand audio and video (both online and off), Pinterest, Instagram, meetups, unconferences, flash mobs, etc.

We live in an era where marketing and advertising work can be fulfilled not just via the company/agency partnership, but also via co-creation with customers, crowdsourcing, via crowdfunding, or utilizing cloud labor or crowd computing.

With the rise of the digital marketplace also came a plethora of new digital and social marketing and advertising agencies, many of which were snapped up by giants like WPP to infuse some new thinking and “innovation” into their traditional direct marketing and advertising execution methods.

But now, comes the news that Nissan (who has switched their slogan from “Innovation for All” to “Innovation that Excites”) has created their own Marketing Innovation Lab rather than just relying on their roster of agencies to bring them innovations. Nissan may not be the only company to do something similar, but it begs the question, where should marketing innovation come from?

Obviously Nissan doesn’t feel that they are getting enough innovation in their marketing efforts from their agencies, and it makes you wonder, shouldn’t it be the agencies not the companies who are looking to find and support upstart companies and apps with marketing and media potential?

Well, why should any company look to source innovation from any one place, even if it is marketing innovation?

I would say that every company looking to succeed at ANY type of innovation should be looking to collect dots to connect from as many sources as possible, including:

  1. Agencies and Advisory Firms
  2. Co-Creation with Customers
  3. Crowdsourcing
  4. Partners
  5. Suppliers
  6. Competitors
  7. Adjacent Industries
  8. Distant Industries
  9. Market Research (ethnography, surveys, focus groups, trends, etc.)
  10. Startups
  11. … (insert your favorite here)

So, where will your next marketing innovation come from?

And, who are you working with from outside in order to bring innovation inside?


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Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation

In this webinar hosted by Innocentive I explore how organizations can utilize open innovation and crowdsourcing resources as an essential talent management strategy to drive their business.

You can engage me to create a webinar or white paper for your audience here.

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UPDATE – Nine Innovation Roles Group Diagnostic Tool

I am proud to announce that my crowdfunding project over on IndieGoGo for the Nine Innovation Roles Group Diagnostic Tool has already received support from EIGHT people to get the project off to a strong start. There are still lots of great perks available including discounts on the Nine Innovation Roles Group Diagnostic Tool and seminar kits, and even FIVE (5) two-hour innovation keynote and workshop combos at an incredibly discounted price.

The Nine Innovation Roles Group Diagnostic Tool will come with a series of simple exercises and a deck of roles cards to help create a fun, interactive experience for innovation teams or organizations to use to help people better understand what roles they fill on innovation projects, why the team’s or organization’s innovation efforts are failing, and how they can together improve the innovation performance of their teams or organization.

Nine Innovation Roles Group Diagnostic Tool Coming Soon

Design for Nine Innovation Roles Group Diagnostic Tool

You can click to read more about The Nine Innovation Roles, but here is the ethos behind it:

“Too often we treat people as commodities that are interchangeable and maintain the same characteristics and aptitudes. Of course, we know that people are not interchangeable, yet we continually pretend that they are anyway — to make life simpler for our reptile brain to comprehend. Deep down we know that people have different passions, skills, and potential, but even when it comes to innovation, we expect everybody to have good ideas.

I’m of the opinion that all people are creative, in their own way. That is not to say that all people are creative in the sense that every single person is good at creating lots of really great ideas, nor do they have to be. I believe instead that everyone has a dominant innovation role at which they excel, and that when properly identified and channeled, the organization stands to maximize its innovation capacity. I believe that all people excel at one of nine innovation roles, and that when organizations put the right people in the right innovation roles, that your innovation speed and capacity will increase.”

Nine Innovation Roles Group Diagnostic Tool Coming Soon

The Nine Innovation Roles Group Diagnostic Tool and Workshop can help you identify why your innovation efforts are failing or how your innovation teams could be more successful in the future. Don’t wait. Book a workshop, or pre-order the group diagnostic tool and run a team building exercise of your own.

Book a Nine Innovation Roles Group Diagnostic Workshop

Build a Common Language of Innovation

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Announcing the Nine Innovation Roles Group Diagnostic Tool

I am proud to announce the availability of the Nine Innovation Roles Group Diagnostic Tool for pre-order as part of my crowdfunding project over on IndieGoGo. There you will find lots of great perks available including discounts on the Nine Innovation Roles Group Diagnostic Tool and even FIVE (5) two-hour innovation keynote and workshop combos at an incredibly discounted price.

The Nine Innovation Roles Group Diagnostic Tool will come with a series of simple exercises and a deck of roles cards to help create a fun, interactive experience for innovation teams or organizations to use to help people better understand what roles they fill on innovation projects, why the team’s or organization’s innovation efforts are failing, and how they can together improve the innovation performance of their teams or organization.

Nine Innovation Roles Group Diagnostic Tool Coming Soon

Design for Nine Innovation Roles Group Diagnostic Tool

You can click to read more about The Nine Innovation Roles, but here is the ethos behind it:

“Too often we treat people as commodities that are interchangeable and maintain the same characteristics and aptitudes. Of course, we know that people are not interchangeable, yet we continually pretend that they are anyway — to make life simpler for our reptile brain to comprehend. Deep down we know that people have different passions, skills, and potential, but even when it comes to innovation, we expect everybody to have good ideas.

I’m of the opinion that all people are creative, in their own way. That is not to say that all people are creative in the sense that every single person is good at creating lots of really great ideas, nor do they have to be. I believe instead that everyone has a dominant innovation role at which they excel, and that when properly identified and channeled, the organization stands to maximize its innovation capacity. I believe that all people excel at one of nine innovation roles, and that when organizations put the right people in the right innovation roles, that your innovation speed and capacity will increase.”

The Nine Innovation Roles Group Diagnostic Tool and Workshop can help you identify why your innovation efforts are failing or how your innovation teams could be more successful in the future. Don’t wait. Book a workshop, or pre-order the group diagnostic tool and run a team building exercise of your own.

Book a Nine Innovation Roles Group Diagnostic Workshop

Build a Common Language of Innovation

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Is Crowdsourcing a Fad or a Foundational Element?

Much has been written about ‘crowdsourcing’ and the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ over the past several years, including “Crowdsourcing” by Jeff Howe – a contributing editor at Wired magazine, and “Wisdom of the Crowd” by James Surowiecki – a staff writer at The New Yorker.

Crowdsourcing – “The act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call.” – Jeff Howe

‘Wisdom of the Crowd’ – “Refers to the process of taking into account the collective opinion of a group of individuals rather than a single expert to answer a question.” – Wikipedia

For those of you not familiar with crowdsourcing, here is a good video from Jeff Howe:

So, what will happen to ‘crowdsourcing’ and ‘wisdom of the crowd’ as more and more companies start to employ these techniques.

Will the crowd remain wise or lose its predictive powers?

One thing is certain. Organizations will continue to use ‘crowdsourcing’ and ‘wisdom of the crowd’ together to help them find ideas that will resonate with their targets.

Organizations will, however, have to work harder to market their initiatives as the competition increases for people’s time, if they are to maximize the value they accrue from the effort.

What do you think?

I recently used crowdsourcing to source the design for my upcoming Nine Innovation Roles interactive card game and received several good designs and one awesome one. Now I am using crowdfunding on IndieGoGo to raise the money to make it a reality and will be bringing sample cards with me to the Front End of Innovation 2012 in Orlando next week (Save 20% with discount code FEI12BRADEN).

Oh, and I will also be looking to crowdsource a software application for people to use on their iPad, iPhone, Android, or other mobile device too, so stay tuned!

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Innovation Not Allowed on Kickstarter?

Kickstarter Logo - No Innovation AllowedI’m in the throes of bringing The Nine Innovation Roles to life in an interactive card game for use in workshops and team meetings, and as someone who writes about harnessing external talent, it only made sense that I should post a project on Kickstarter to engage in a bit of crowdfunding to fund:

  • A design contest on CrowdSpring or 99Designs
  • The costs of an initial production run of the Nine Innovation Roles card decks.

Imagine my surprise when Kickstarter rejected my non-fiction publishing project submission.

Is innovation not allowed on Kickstarter?

I re-read the guidelines, submitted an appeal figuring there must have been some sort of mistake, and waited for a favorable response.

But, again I was surprised to receive notification that my appeal was rejected.

An email asking for clarification, in advance of this article, went unanswered.

So I am left to assume that yes, innovation is not allowed on Kickstarter. I should have seen the writing on the wall when I did a search for “innovation” on Kickstarter and it returned a nearly empty set of search results.

I guess crowdfunding the publishing of a tool to help make teams and organizations more successful at innovation wasn’t sexy or artsy enough for Kickstarter.

But, the news isn’t all doom and gloom.

Some of you may remember that I put out an open call a couple of weeks ago asking for opinions on whether I should post my design contest on CrowdSpring or 99Designs. I also tweeted the same question, and well, CrowdSpring answered one of my tweets and the folks at 99Designs didn’t. And as someone who also writes about social business, guess who I’m trusting to host the design contest for The Nine Innovation Roles card decks?

You guessed it, CrowdSpring.

Luckily, unlike Kickstarter, the folks at CrowdSpring believe in supporting innovation projects and I’ve launched a $500 design contest on their platform that is open to the world here:

Nine Innovation Roles Crowdspring Project

I really look forward to seeing how the global community of graphic designers will interpret the Nine Innovation Roles and help me breathe life into them and create a beautiful, fun deck of cards to be used along with some interactive exercises in workshops and team meetings to increase the innovation success of teams or organizations.

Oh, and if you’re looking to fund your innovation project, you might want to invest your time somewhere else other than Kickstarter – where innovation is not allowed.

I will now be considering some secondary platforms for my crowdfunding project. Do you have any favorites?

UPDATE: I’ve launched a crowdfunding project on IndieGoGo after being rejected by Kickstarter.

Happy innovating (and designing)! 🙂

Build a Common Language of Innovation

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