There are countless examples of people who develop fantastic ideas and enjoy great success. A common thread is that the original inventor is involved all the way to the release of a commercial product. This is one of the many reasons why smaller companies are often so good at innovation - a small team keeps that passion all the way to the finish line in spite of the obstacles.
Loosely translated, the Indian word Jugaad describes a philosophy of innovating at low cost, making do with what you have immediately on hand. When you find yourself in a bind and you need to get going quickly and frugally, you need to come up with a creative and effective solution using materials and ideas not normally used for your application. You need to break the rules – that is Jugaad.
Crowdsourcing and open innovation can be powerful tools. Throw out a problem, and a solution bounces back – usually quickly, and for a relatively low cost. Then why is it that so many companies fail to get everything out of crowdsourcing that they had hoped for? The majority of the time it’s because they make critical mistakes.
Skill can dramatically speed up the problem solving process. The downside is that the very know-how that drives intuition can also result in bias. Bias can often result in prematurely discarding potentially interesting solutions, and can also discourage asking those all-important stupid questions that can sometimes lead to disruptive ideas.
If we were trying to decide what to do with prisoners of war, our brains would automatically shut down ideas like “let’s treat them like royalty”, because they don’t make any sense within the context. But - if we can allow these ridiculous ideas to churn about in our brains without being judged, they can lead to all sorts of great ideas.
Companies set up their portals hoping that external contributors will deliver product innovation gold. But what they end up with are often low quality ideas with little or no commercial value. Often they receive far too many submissions and the exercise becomes a waste of time and money as a lot of internal resources are monopolized to read, track and evaluate them.
Open Innovation is hard. There are always going to be people at your company who are, at best unconvinced. At worst, they actually want it to fail. When failure is an option, there is a lack of commitment. It takes vision, leadership, buy-in and most of all commitment from ALL of the stakeholders to make it through.
Crowdsourcing seems like a great solution – put your problem out there, and wait for a solution from the masses. There are many unforeseen, even fatal difficulties companies encounter while engaging in crowdsourcing efforts. In some case these difficulties completely eclipse the benefits, potentially resulting in an unfulfilled promise and a disillusioned corporate team.
How is it possible that IdeaConnection is able to put together a team of 5 people who don’t know each other to solve a problem that seems out of reach to a company’s 5,000 dedicated researchers? A look at what goes into IdeaConnection’s amazing success at solving some of the most difficult problems.
One of the beautiful things about teams is that, like crowdsourcing, you still tap into the minds of many diverse people – but the team dynamic does a lot of the preliminary work for you. They carefully consider each idea and option, they research the ideas and think them through, putting them through a peer-review-like process.