People and their ideas as drivers of change in organizations
Professionals and organizations need to be agile and enlist the help of those who really know them, people and their ideas.
These become the drivers of change, being the main player of collective intelligence and innovation. At this point, innovation communities emerge.
WHAT ARE INNOVATION COMMUNITIES?
Innovation communities are virtual groups whose goal is to learn through experience and share common interests among the members that allow them to develop and deepen their knowledge. To make everything work as planned, we can鈥檛 miss anything so communication must be optimal. In order to achieve the alignment of the goals and all members follow it, we suggest you answer these 4 strategic questions:
- What objectives do we seek to achieve with the community.
- How we will do it with the resources we have.
- Who will participate in our community, referring to both users and the governance team.
- Why they should participate, what they will get in return.
Regardless of the tools we decide to use, we must always remember who we are targeting and therefore adapt, both the channel and the message, transmitted. Do it in a simple, clear and direct. Thus be careful with noise which can hinder the message understanding.
Once the receiving has captured the message, we want to encourage his participation. One of the most effective incentives is reward mechanisms, which creates a feeling of community membership, such as rankings of ideas, public acknowledgements, or presenting your ideas to the committee. We also find the material prizes, these do not necessarily have to be of high economic value, we can resort to the marketed product and turn this recognition into a resource for promotion and marketing.
Finally, we must choose which channel is more suitable to communicate with our receiving:
- The innovation community itself, through static pages, banners, user rankings or notifications. It is perfect for establishing direct communication with the user.
- Online channels, such as mailings, newsletters, blogs or social networks. We will have to select them according to their degree of openness and their relationship with our target.
- Offline channels, these are the most traditional, posters, brochures and flyers. They have the advantage of reaching all kinds of audiences and are not conditioned by digital media.
MANAGEMENT OF INNOVATION COMMUNITIES
Within the innovation communities, in addition to the members of the community, we find different roles in charge of its correct development. As the Project Director, who will define the strategy to follow, and the Manager, in charge of the daily control of the community.
The latter, being in direct contact with the members, serves as a connection point, acting as facilitator and coordinator.
INNOVATION COMMUNITY FORMATS
As we have adapted communication according to our target and goals, we will find different community formats depending on whether we want to collaborate with the organization’s workers or users.
1. Intra-entrepreneurship programs
No one knows a company more than its own workers, so the innovation communities will be aimed at promoting corporate entrepreneurship internally. Intrapreneurship empowers workers and gives them the necessary autonomy to develop their professional ideas and projects. Thanks to this empowerment, the worker will increase its confidence and strengthen their engagement and motivation, which will lead to greater initiative, innovation and creativity within the work environment.
Intrapreneurship will promote the personal autonomy of workers and make their achievements visible regardless of hierarchies.
The main goal of the internal innovation communities is to be the channel where the employees, main players of the organization, innovate, co-create and present their ideas to develop a new corporate culture.
For that purpose, we will rely on tools such as the work calendar. In this calendar we will mark our milestones, which will make participating in the community attractive and easy. In addition to the launching of the community, which will allow us to gain critical mass, and later specific actions, such as the launch of the contest that promotes crowdsourcing, and periodic actions, which remember the development of the activity and keep the users active.
2. Co-creation with consumers
Just as workers are those who best know the company, consumers are those who best know what they want. Co-creation with consumers, as its name says, brings together large groups of users and external experts in the process of new products or services development and address organizational challenges.
We have to take into account that these communities can have a great impact on the company’s reputation, so the message must be solid and aligned with its strategy. In the same way, the correct participation of consumers should be supervised, implementing regulations that prevent inappropriate behavior, without restricting the freedom of users. To get constructive contributions,, it is recommended to use an inclusive language that ensures the diversity of the participants, convey the strategy both in the community and in its messages, and create a Communication and Revitalization Plan supported by social channels which generate a critical mass of users stimulated through rewards.
To ensure the community meets the desired goals, it is essential to monitor the results both during and after completion.
For that purpose, we can use internal tools such as the Dashboard to measure productivity and external tools such as Google Analytics that will measure the audience of the community and its evolution.
ROLE OF THE EXPERT
We have already spoken about the Manager and the Project Director, so we introduce you to the Expert. This will be essential for the proper development of our community, since having the collaboration of a large number of people (Wisdom of Crowds) will promote cross-fertilization of ideas and Divergent Thinking, which may lead to our desired innovation or noise (Dumbness of Mobs).
The Expert is the central axis between all the members of the community. It will be responsible for stimulating the co-creation process among users, providing feedback to participants and guiding ideas through the defined life cycle to ensure that participants stay focused at all times. His main functions are:
- Encourage participation. Sharing more ideas or improving those of other users to carry them out and enhance their motivation.
- Catalyze the innovation process seeking focus. It will guide the participants giving feedback to their ideas since in many cases these are poorly defined, although they may serve as inspiration for others, they need focus to be implemented. Despite this function, in case of conflict, he should stay out of the way and let the Manager take action.
- Control of the innovation funnel. He will improve or remove ideas to move along the funnel, in an orderly fashion and the following criteria. He should differentiate between good ideas that do not receive popular support but that can have a significant impact on the organization, and ideas with potential but still poorly defined. Finally, it will evaluate the pre-selected ideas according to the rules to move from one state to another
With age comes wisdom, so we have been able to learn from mistakes along the years and we want to conclude with a few tips to correctly develop the role of the expert:
- A bad idea can become a good one. Don’t throw away any idea without first trying to improve it. With the right feedback, an idea can evolve through the contributions of its author or other participants.
- Every idea is valid. Even when an idea doesn’t go through, it can inspire other people.
- Although there are ideas that do not provide solutions, they can be used to identify improvement situations and undetected problems.
- Feedback is always important, because:
- Although it won鈥檛 be implemented, the creator would realize his ideas “are heard” and this will serve as a motivating element
- You can increase customer loyalty (NPS) and improve the work environment by solving possible questions after reasoning the answers.
- A good local idea can be a bad global idea. Understanding the whys expands the vision of the participants
- Collaboration can self-build the community.
- Through contributions in the community, we can detect the talent otherwise will remain hidden within an organization.
Concluding, if you seek to optimize your organization, product or service and evolve along with the market, turn to the great experts: workers and users, no one better than them will know what fails. Furthermore, their opinion will help you see the “problems” from another point of view and will give you new ideas to implement. Two heads think more than one!
Published at 28/05/2020