Let me see if this situation sounds familiar: you’ve promised your boss that you’ll generate at least one percent growth over last year. You’ve been racking your brain with ideas about how to improve your product or develop a new offering or finding new efficiencies which will help your margins, but the few ideas that you’ve come up with haven’t had legs and pages keep coming off the calendar.

This is oftentimes when one of our new customers arrives on IdeaScale’s website – they’ve realized that they need to find more ideas and they need to be able to deliver on those ideas quickly and they’ve realized that crowdsourcing innovation actually gives them not only more ideas, but better ones, and it cuts the development lifecycle almost in half.

Open innovation dissolves the boundaries between you and your potential solutions. Now anyone from anywhere in a company (from anywhere in the world, for that matter) can help you meet that growth goal, whether it’s someone from your company’s leadership or someone from the maintenance team.

But even if you know that this is what you need to do, it’s not always clear what you need to know before you launch a crowdsourced innovation program. Here are the top four things that people have questions about before they begin:

How to Get Buy-In from Leadership:

There are lots of proven crowdsourcing use cases that show how groups of people have performed better even then the experts, but these stories aren’t always known. First, you have to become an expert and teach your leaders how to change the way that they approach ideation.

How to Define Objectives:

How do you know if you’ve succeeded? If you’re like the person I was talking about before, their objective might be 1% top-line growth, but how do they know what they’ll need to get there? It’s not just about gathering ideas. It’s about impacting your business.

How to Create a Process:

Every organization looks a little bit different, but ideas usually need to go through a refinement and approval process before they can go live. What sort of program would work best at your institution?

How to Create a Communications Plan:

If you’re going to collaborate with the crowd, then you need to know how to communicate with them. You need to add value to the conversation, communicate your incentives program, and make them understand why participating is meaningful to them.

IdeaScale evaluated the best practices of its top-performing customers and combined some of its most-requested documents into one innovator’s starter kit, which you can download for free here. It offers answers to some of these questions and some tips and tricks about how to manage your own crowdsourced innovation community.

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.

Photo: Businessman at the center of a maze from