Innovators, How Do You Find Your Next Problem to Solve?

Innovators, How Do You Find Your Next Problem to Solve?

Is the NBA the Next Frontier for Innovation?

By: Rob Hoehn

If you’re working in innovation there’s nothing as rewarding as making the long journey from inspiration to implementation.

We love seeing the pictures of our customers alongside the aisle end cap that showcases their new product or sharing an award that an innovator received for their great suggestion… but that generally means that an innovation team is ready for another challenge – they’re ready to source a problem for someone else and start that journey again.

For many of our customers, they want to open their innovation programs to other departments and help them solve problems, but they’re not sure how to identify potential business owners who might want their help and they’re not sure how to bring them along in the process.

That’s why we created our infographic on how to find your next challenge sponsor. Basically, IdeaScale customers have two main challenges when it comes to this: “how do I find sponsors for my challenge” and then “what sort of support should I offer when they’re running an innovation challenge or sprint?” Well, we’ve got some suggestions that should help you.

How to Identify:

Like most things, a good starting point is to follow the money… Usually departments who are underperforming and under-resourced need some help optimizing. It would be a great tactic to reach out to those business owners and find out how you can help them shoulder the burden and potentially start improving their results.

Conversely, departments that are well-resourced with big budgets are generally open to trying out new ideas and have some bandwidth to explore new concepts. Reaching out to these business owners might inspire them and you could help impact big goals and feel pretty confident that the good ideas will be implemented.

Another tactic that we use a lot is running a problem-sensing campaign. Reach out to your crowd of employees or customers and ask them what they think needs to be addressed. Almost everyone will have a suggestion on something they think needs attention. Then you can go to those business owners with some validated support for trends that those leaders should be paying attention to.

How to Help:

At NASA, they refer to their innovation team as “innovation Sherpas.” This means that they’re helping those business owners articulate their key problems, identify good solutions, and supporting them as they implement new ideas. For many of IdeaScale’s customers, these innovation teams provide templated workbooks that help challenge owners plan the problem statement language, plot a communications strategy and make sure that the challenge results all ladder up to meaningful KPIs. Of course, each challenge is unique, but some aspects of the innovation process are repeatable – find out where your innovation team’s expertise lies and help those business leaders when you can.

To learn more about how to identify collaborators and their problems to solve, download our infographic on the subject.

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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If you're running an innovation program, how do you find your next problem to solve?

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