Every year, IdeaScale hosts the Innovation Management Awards to honor the work of organizations who are accessing the voice of the crowd and the power of digital innovation programs to generate extraordinary results. The competition has three categories: best innovation engagement strategy, best innovation process, and best innovation overall. Here’s what we can learn from this year’s winners. 


Graybar is a Fortune 500 corporation and one of the largest employee-owned companies in North America. They are a leader in the distribution of high-quality communications and data networking products and have 290 North American distribution facilities, nearly 9,000 employees. In order to foster a culture of innovation at Graybar where ideas are openly shared, evaluated, and promoted throughout the company, Graybar introduced the “NEXT” Innovation Program.

Graybar was able to not only demonstrate the rigor of its six-stage innovation process, but also the value of its Innovation Council, which acts as the cross-departmental steering group whose purpose is to provide guidance and allocate resources to ideas as they move into and through the innovation portfolio. Graybar also created a unique scorecard assessment for each idea as it approached various stages of readiness. These shared milestones and criteria help to keep the innovation process clear and efficient.

Their program demonstrates the value of having shared, defined criteria so that everyone understands how to architect and pitch a good idea and also the value of visible leadership by having the innovation council.


Bethesda and Good Samaritan Hospital joined together to form TriHealth in 1995, bringing together two of Cincinnati’s finest healthcare organizations. When Mark Clement joined TriHealth as CEO in 2015, one of his first priorities was to improve employee engagement across its community of 11,000 team members by launching an incremental innovation program titled Bright ideas built on the IdeaScale platform. TriHealth team challenged their entire workforce to both suggest and implement incremental suggestions that would improve overall healthcare outcomes. This empowerment of employees to not only suggest, but take action on their ideas was a unique approach and it was proven successful when TriHealth reported a 79% participation level from their workforce and a total of 8,671 ideas throughout the course of 2020.

Their program demonstrates the value of not just asking for ideas, but action for team members when innovation is an expectation of every employee (even included in their annual reviews). Not only have they gained high levels of participation and implemented numerous new programs, they’ve saved their organization millions!

Grant Thornton International

Grant Thornton is one of the world’s largest independent accounting and consulting member firms, which provide assurance, tax and advisory services to privately held businesses, public interest entities, and public sector entities. They deliver those services through a network of 58,000+ people in 136 countries. In 2020, Grant Thornton created the global ‘Innovation Exchange’ to collect innovative products that their network of member firms have developed to raise awareness for them and facilitate their adoption by other member firms across the world.

As a result of this program, Grant Thornton was able to launch the Intelligent Automation Service Center (IASC). The idea has grown since from its initial inspiration into a pilot program that has matured into a full-fledged technology-enabled support system for several other automation oriented innovation initiatives adding value in multiple service lines. The best part about it is that it has enabled Grant Thornton and their members to rapidly adapt to certain changes during disruption as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their program demonstrates the value of connecting teams from across the globe and finding a fledgling idea that can be scaled up to serve their entire global audience.

To read the full stories of these innovation management leaders, download their award-winning case studies here.

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 Pixabay.