By: Rob Hoehn
What is the real value of participating in innovation programs? In this article Rob Hoehn looks at his favourite example, working with the Department of Energy. They started by asking the public what the most pressing problems were when it came to making solar a cost-competitive resource for every citizen and then asked that same crowd to come forward with possible solutions to the top-voted problems.
At IdeaScale, we get to work on a lot of exciting projects. We have seen customers who have created the world’s first solar-powered wheelchair, customers who help increase school attendance in Pakistan, and customers who are building the next generation of racecars.
But I came across this post the other day trying to answer the impossible question of “what is a hero anyways?” The post made me start thinking about what the real value of participating in innovation programs is. And although the conversation about what constitutes a “hero” will inevitably continue, I enjoyed the definition that Response Ability put forward:
Heroes are people who transform compassion […] into heroic action […]. In doing so, they put their best selves forward in service to humanity. A hero is as an individual or a network of people that take action on behalf of others in need, or in defense of integrity or a moral cause.
The program empowered citizens not only to participate by sharing their personal insights and values, but also by sharing their solutions.
What’s exciting about IdeaScale is that a lot of those people participate in making real change happen by engaging with innovation programs by using our tool. One of my favorite examples of this is our work with the Department of Energy. They started by asking the public what the most pressing problems were when it came to making solar a cost-competitive resource for every citizen and then asked that same crowd to come forward with possible solutions to the top-voted problems. The program empowered citizens not only to participate by sharing their personal insights and values, but also by sharing their solutions. It also won our annual award for best idea management lifecycle process.
The initiative lasts about a year with several phases that whittle the business proposals down to five solar start-ups that receive seed funding to launch their solution. Forbes wrote about the 2015 winners, hailing them as the 5 Solar IT Start-Ups You Should Know About. I was able to speak at the winners showcase and meet some of the winners and runners-up and what I was most impressed by was the level of passion in the room. The teams really cared about the energy challenges this next generation faces and is really trying to put that concern into action. And with open innovation programs, those change agents can really come from anywhere. We need more opportunities to let citizens take part in the solutions that they care about.
Anyways, the team here at IdeaScale thinks that citizens who rose to the occasion are at some level heroic, which is why we created an infocomic that tells their story. You can download it here.
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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