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After a decade working in innovation, I think many of us are sick and tired of seeing a funnel on another slide at an innovation conference. Lots of ideas at the top, just a few implemented ideas at the bottom… we get the idea.

But I think one of the reasons why it’s so continuously revisited is because there are so many different approaches to innovation and not all of them work.

IdeaScale recently looked at the top five use cases for IdeaScale and shared a workflow that had proven success in delivering on a goal. These are the top five use cases and a few characteristics that make their funnel unique:

Product Development

The largest percentage of IdeaScale’s customer base use their innovation community to either develop totally new products or improve their existing offering. A product development initiative usually has a unique workflow in that it often requires a few rounds of creative thinking – there’s the initial ideation, but then there’s the initial research as part of development and oftentimes ideation as part of the feedback on prototypes, as well.

Cost Savings

Unsurprisingly, innovators also demonstrate an interest for working on this problem. The value of a cost savings initiative is easy to understand and that savings can also be re-invested in other (potentially more innovative) projects. One of the defining features of a cost savings workflow is an emphasis on value estimates as part of the process – sometimes from the crowd, but often from experts.

Process Improvement

Process improvements often leads to time saved or better workplace or customer experiences, but they have a category all their own. There’s an emphasis on team expertise and research when it comes to process improvement. When it’s a particularly complex process, sometimes it takes a few rounds of development with different business owners to get a new process to work.

Workplace Experience

With a focus on creating an attractive work environment and an engaged workforce, improving the work experience is now a core focus for many organizations. The good news is there are usually a lot of ideas about how to improve a workplace so the key aspect of this funnel is prioritization. Leadership helps create a meaningful slate of projects balanced between what is desirable and what is feasible.

Customer Experience

And, of course, a superior customer experience is intrinsic to organizational success. More events, blogs, software solutions are focusing on this critical piece of the puzzle. One of the most unique parts of a customer experience innovation workflow is that the customer validation. Maybe you already know what the key criteria are that matter to your customers and you evaluate against this or maybe you remove a layer and take your solution directly to the customer for feedback. Either, way new ideas need to be tested against what matters to the customer.

To learn more about proven innovation workflows, download our infographic on the subject. It features examples from real ideation communities.

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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