By: Rob Hoehn
Announcing the IdeaScale Nation podcast, where you’ll be able to hear stories from innovators in government, the enterprise and beyond.
Last spring, to honor Military Invention Day, the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation showcased examples of today’s leading-edge military inventions alongside historical technologies from the Museum’s world-class collections. One of those inventions was the hammer hook – this invention by Petty Officer First Class Kevin Spratt of the Coast Guard Cutter Spar welded a hook to the head of a maul, combining two tools frequently used on a buoy deck. The Hammer Hook reduces clutter on the deck and makes it easier for crewmembers to switch between tools, saving them time every time they use it. This idea was so simple that Spratt didn’t think to share it with anyone when he first invented it, but when he mentioned it on an online community for Coast Guard ideas, the other officers immediately recognized the ease and benefit this new tool provided. It’s now standard issue and all in less than a year.
But this story is unique in maritime, military, multi-mission service organization like the United States Coast Guard where chain of command ensures that work gets done even in chaotic situations like responding to distress calls in a Hurricane. But while chain of command organizes efforts in an emergency, it can suppress new ideas that have to travel through several layers of approval and socialization before leadership or other team members ever see it.
In this case creating an online space where ideas can be stored (but also discovered) helped to collapse those multiple layers of approval. That’s exactly what the Queensland Police were able to do, as well, by launching a program that connected their 15,000 highly distributed officers and empowered them to share best practices that have saved time and lives. But what sorts of ideas did they collect, how did they engage their officers, what does leadership think of the program, these were all things that we wanted to discover on our first episode of our new podcast: IdeaScale Nation. The podcast is 30 minutes, great for the morning commute and features interviews from innovation practitioners who are building innovation programs and tracking trends in order to prepare for the future. In this first episode, we learn a lot about how to serve value up the hierarchical chain and empower the frontlines at the same time.
Subscribe to the IdeaScale Nation podcast to get more stories from innovators in government, the enterprise and beyond.
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.