How Do You Solve A Problem Like Innovation?

June 13, 2013 Shelly Kuipers

This is a guest post written by Shelly Kuipers, the Founder/CEO of Chaordix, a current 48hrs company.

Over the past few years at Chaordix, we’ve worked with private and public sector organizations all across the globe, leveraging the power of crowdsourcing to help them innovate on both product and brand levels.

 As we’ve refined our approach and product, we’ve been guided by one key lesson (that, in retrospect, we’ve all been learning for a long time!): the traditional linear, stage-gate approach to innovation is inefficient, both in terms of resources invested and output (products and financial return) produced.

It’s a lesson that seems to be taking hold across industries.

A recent Accenture study indicated that while 93% of CEOs believe innovation to be critical to their organization’s long-term success, and 70% rank innovation in their top-5 strategic priorities, only 18% believe their innovation strategies are delivering competitive advantages.

So, why is that?

There are many contributing factors, ranging from tendencies to fix on concepts too early in the development process (limiting the possibility for unexpected outputs later on) to the wrong mix of contributors (ignoring the increasing democratization of brands due to technological and marketplace shifts) to insufficient focus on building development pipelines that deliver actionable, predictive insights.

It’s an interesting, almost self-perpetuating problem. When the results of efforts to innovate are poor, there’s a temptation to take a more conservative path, to throw less good money after bad.

That makes some sense, but this innovative austerity still doesn’t help organizations answer the million, or ideally billion, dollar question, the one that won’t go away:

How do you get at disruptive innovation?

One of the most satisfying things for the Chaordix team has been that we’ve learned as much about our business from our clients as we’ve helped them learn about theirs. With their help, we’re carving a path forward that costs less and returns more than traditional methods of innovation.

Here’s what we’ve learned together: the key to game-changing innovations requires a synthesizing of the client’s own expertise and the passion and engagement of a crowd of its customers (and potential customers). It focuses on finding the most compelling contributors (prosumers and community leaders) and the most compelling contributions (insights, ideas, innovations). 

At its ideal, one we continue to strive for, crowdsourcing enables people’s natural inclinations to participate in and help shape the future of the products and brands they care about most. 

In the end, we believe both brands and consumers will benefit from game-changing innovations, if only they can find the right ways to engage each other.


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