Many companies are introducing Innovation as a Service, which means an internal group acts as a consultancy that can solve problems for business owners. These innovation teams bring a number of skills to the table, including research, communications, project management, networking, and much more. Many have also adopted a “proudly found elsewhere” solution approach, which uses crowdsourcing to ask the entire workforce—or even beyond the walls of the organization—for solutions to existing problems.

But crowdsourcing is still an emerging discipline for many organizations, and it’s difficult to know what you need to have in place before you launch your first crowdsourced innovation campaign. Fortunately, there is a wealth of resources on this subject, but here are the five absolutely-essential ingredients of a crowdsourced innovation campaign.


People care to participate in initiatives that have a specific goal, as it’s more likely that their contributions will actually be used. If you know what the gap is, it is best to articulate that. Do you want to improve accuracy by 10%? Gain 500  more followers? A clear goal makes it easier for a crowd to participate in problem solving.

What’s in it for the Crowd

Whether you’re offering an incentive for participation (or some other non-monetary reward), taking part in the effort should result in some sort of intrinsic benefit. Whether that’s their ideas being viewed by key leadership or getting to network with their peers, you must understand why the crowd would care, so that you can embed this message in your key communications.

Decision Making Criteria

How will you decide which ideas to move forward? Is it the most popular idea? Is it the one that can be implemented in the next three months? If you have some constraints, it’s best to name them and ask for them at the outset. It also creates a shared understanding with the crowd on what constitutes a great idea. Many organizations default to rating all ideas for their desirability, feasibility, and viability. IdeaScale would add that an idea needs to be vettable by leadership.

Stakeholders and Subject Matter Experts

Whatever your topic might be, you will have experts and stakeholders who care about the outcome. It’s best to bring them on board and make them part of the process. They can promote the campaign, contribute to it, help to stimulate conversation or identify ideas with early-promise. With IdeaScale, these individuals would become campaign moderators.

Decision Makers

There are always gatekeepers who hold the strategic assets necessary to implement ideas: money, decision making power, and access to teams. Identify your decision makers and find out how they would like to see the ideas—for example, in a live pitch session, in a powerpoint deck, as a tweet. Once you know who your decision makers are, it’s important to define the part of the process in which they will review ideas.


Having a deadline is a the most low-tech solution to generate results and urgency. Decide when you want to reach your goal and reverse engineer each part of the process from there. When will you need to begin building? When do your decision makers need to make their choices? When do you need to evaluate ideas? When do people need to be submitting ideas?


Well, it’s pretty obvious that you can’t crowdsource without a crowd—but how do you get in front of them? Do you have an email list? An active following on social media? A big event coming up? How will you put your campaign front and center?

Have you gathered your ingredients? Learn how to organize all these elements in a crowdsourced innovation virtual lab. Bring your challenge and set up your own crowdsourcing campaign in 45 minutes on November 18th at 10:00am PST.

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 Unsplash.