One of the most interesting aspects of collaborative strategies and tools is the promise of co-creating solutions with customers, partners, citizens and anyone else that your business or government agency interacts with. The promise, of course, can only be achieved when goals have been clearly defined and articulated to all involved. Success is not guaranteed, hard work and careful planning is required. For those who have their act together the benefits will be seen.
You might be asking yourself, what is John talking about when he says, “Ideation”. Simply put, ideation is a strategy, leveraging appropriate tactics and tools, whereby the company/agency collaborates with its customers/citizens to decide what products, features, services, are needed and the relative priority of those needs. Ideation can be accomplished on a small scale through customer advisory groups or on a large scale as the US Federal Government is doing with it’s Federal Agency dashboard (http://www.opengovtracker.com/).
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution the high-level approach will look something like:
- Determine if an ideation solution will help you reach your business/agency goals. While any business/agency could make a case for an ideation solution the reality is we live in tough economic times. Determine if this is the most important investment for you to make now.
- Set expectations, yours, your peers, your management, your teams.Be clear that results will come but that they will time. There are very few overnight successes.
- Find a trusted partner. Successfully creating an ideation strategy requires understanding your business processes, your goals, your people, as well as the software that you are going to deploy.
- While defining your ideation process consider these questions:
- How will you promote/market this to your customers?
- What expectations should participants have for their ideas? Will all be considered or only those with a certain # of votes?
- How transparent will you be? The Federal Agency Dashboard is an example of a great dashboard, do you want something similar or less visible in terms of high-level metrics?
- How will ROI be measured and how visible will this metric be?
- Will you allow anonymous submissions, voting, comments or do participants have to be registered members of the community?
- How often will ideas be reviewed internally? How will process be measured internally and how will results be communicated to your community?
- What reward system will be setup?
- Have I mentioned that I feel strongly you should err on the side of transparency?
- Measure results often.
Your customers, your citizens, know what they want from their relationship with you. An Ideation solution gives them a channel to share their thoughts, both positive and negative. Give them the platform. Listen. Engage. Make changes. Not only will you improve your business, you will improve your entire marketplace.