In a February 2014 presentation, Herman Wories of the DSM Innovation Center made a compelling statement about the role of innovation in any organization: “Innovation is no longer a competitive advantage: it’s a competitive necessity. In order to keep up, you need to continuously innovate.”

The pace of business moves at a rapid velocity in a continuous, 24-hour cycle – a global network of workers and micro-taskers are changing the face of products, markets, and organizations every day, but in the world of open innovation we know that problem solving within an organization is not limited to a single set of people. Perhaps this sentiment is best encapsulated by Yochai Benkler in The Wealth of Networks, “…the world is becoming too fast, too complex and too networked for any organization to have all the answers inside.”

However, knowing where and how to engage the crowd in innovation programs is often a key challenge. An article from the Harvard Business Review reports that “firms that outperform their peers tend to allocate their investments in a certain ratio: 70% to safe bets in the core, 20% to less sure things in adjacent spaces, and 10% to high-risk transformational initiatives.” And those investments yield an inverse amount of profit, 10% return on core offerings, 20% in adjacent, and 70% to disruptive initiatives.

However, with those ratios in mind, it is important that any company be able to track their innovation portfolio against these expectations in order to ensure success. And, of course, involving a crowd of subject-matter experts in evaluating potential ideas against key criteria helps to build the business case for where ideas fall in the pipeline.

For example, if a company is focusing on improving its core offering, it might measure ideas against:

User Desirability: Because user desirability is a key aspect of product, offering, or process success, this is often one of the first vectors that core innovations are evaluated against.
Feasibility: Because core offerings only deliver a small impact to a company’s bottom line, widening the margins and considering feasibility is often a high priority when evaluating new ideas for implementation.

However, if a company is focusing on disrupting the existing marketing, it might review ideas based on:

Innovativeness: This is one of the first things that market leaders and market disruptors review before considering anything else.
Scope of the Potential Audience: When conducting early innovation research, companies often build personas or measure impact based on who their new offering might benefit or what markets it might change.

To learn more about prioritizing an organization’s innovation initiatives, join IdeaScale’s complimentary webinar about decision matrix solutions on June 10th at 10 a.m. PST. Register today!

By Rob Hoehn

About the author

Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others.  Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.

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