In November, the United States Coast Guard presented at Open Nation on their Coast Guard ideas program. They talked about how lessons learned from previous extreme weather occurrences (Sandy, etc.) still hadn’t become institutional knowledge by the 2017 hurricane season when they were so desperately needed. The reason that this hadn’t happened was that all of the methods for collecting new ideas were slow and opaque.

Consequently, when the US Coast Guard launched a crowdsourced ideas community, ideas that had proven their value during the hurricane season were immediately socialized, advocated for and adopted in at least half the time that it normally took for an idea to become policy.

However, even a successful transparent ideas program like the Coast Guard’s requires a thoughtful and repeatable innovation process in order to turn it into an innovation program (since it is process that brings ideas to launch and encourages future trust in the program as it generates results). The Coast Guard used a multi-step process of approval, evaluation, and advocacy. It was this process that resulted in the United States Coast Guard winning the annual Innovation Management Award. Each idea in the CG_Ideas community would go through:

  1. Preliminary Review, which was conducted by the Program Manager Deputy and Strategy Planner who would then route the idea for
  2. Domain Lead Review conducted by the Domain Lead. If the idea had value, it would be sent for
  3. RDT&E Review. All refined ideas will be manually moved to this stage. Flagged ideas will be adjudicated and any that are not approved by the Program Office will be moved to a different campaign.  Not all ideas in this stage will continue to “ISR Review”; an idea submitter will be informed if their idea is moved to another campaign.
  4. In the ISR Review stage all ideas were presented and discussed at the 2017 Idea Submission Review.
  5. And, finally, Selected Ideas which were selected for project portfolio consideration.

This process ensured that every idea was seen from multiple perspectives and viewers. That diversity of opinion and validation accelerated the pace of change.

To learn from the United States Coast Guard’s award winning innovation program and to see examples of implemented ideas, download the case study here.

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.

Featured image via Yayimages.