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The industries of manufacturing and energy are poised for more disruptive change perhaps than any other industry. These companies are impacted by sustainability issues, consumer attitudes and behaviors, digitization, 3D printing, emerging automation and technology, and so much more.

And because manufacturing and energy are linked to most other industries and businesses, the changes here will signal rippling innovation and adaptation in almost all other fields.

Which is why IdeaScale was so interested in the 2018 Innovation Management Award winner – Covia. Headquartered in Chesterland, Ohio, Covia, Inc. is a leading provider of high-performance crystalline silica sand and advanced resin-coated sand products serving the Oil & Gas, Foundry, Glass, Sports & Recreation, Building Products and Filtration markets.

To support their ongoing business innovation initiatives across all of their offerings, Covia gathers ideas from employees at all levels of the organization and developed a program that sorted, selected, and estimated the value of these ideas to the tune of $10 Million in new revenue opportunities and $2 Million in cost savings opportunities. Their program and those results were so inspiring that we wanted to learn more about how they organized and categorized their initiatives in order to effectively manage them. We found that they had four separate categories for ideas each with its own process for evaluation, routing, and selection and a different set of stakeholders who stewarded ideas from concept to implementation and different sets of KPIs for measuring and reporting on value. Here were the four categories used by Covia.

Product-Business Innovation. Ideas in this category addressed technology and product innovations, market and business development initiatives, as well as ideas regarding potential mergers and acquisitions.

Best Practices. Ideas in this category were focused on Operational Excellence, focused mostly on decreasing operating costs and enhancing safety.

General Ideas. Ideas in this category were more about the company: how to enhance company culture or other topics relating to HR, Legal, Health & Wellness.

Proprietary Ideas. This separate category was a closed section for ideas that could potentially be deemed proprietary and confidential. The administrator for this group of ideas made sure that the ideas in this group were only visible to a few company managers.

What’s interesting about this way of organizing crowd suggestions is that even though someone different ideas can appear in a single campaign (a new product idea, a potential new market or a company that might make a good strategic acquisition, for example), the process, stakeholders, and value metrics associated with all those ideas are strikingly similar. This should make other companies think about what other processes use the same decision points, critieria, and senior level authority to bring those ideas to fruition so that innovation is even more repeatable and easy to roll out across an entire enterprise.

To learn more about how Covia is using process to repeatedly identify and deliver on promising ideas, download their award-winning 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.