IT Innovation: Ideation & Crowdsourcing New Solutions

Innovation is becoming more significant, as organizations transform into increasingly digitally orientated enterprises. This has led to CIOs and senior IT executives spending progressively more amounts of time attempting to foster ideation in their organizations.

Many enterprises try to institutionalize the process by building innovation teams from a diverse cross-section of the company, or even handing that responsibility to a dedicated team such as R&D. However, it’s more feasible than ever before for any employee with a good idea to go out and build a solution using accessible cloud-based tools themselves.

This of course, negates the involvement or need of specialist IT teams in the organization. Additionally, the processes can often be performed without any kind of governance of approval, working to streamline procedure.

Businesses finding new success often rely on the creativity of individual employees, by developing an environment where innovation is encouraged. However, breaking old habits can be hard, and so an IT Innovation guide might be needed to steer businesses in the right direction.

Gartner has actually proposed a way for IT teams to categorize different challenges and opportunities according to their nature, and outlined different approaches to crowdsourcing solutions for each category. The 3 categories are:

  • Complicated problems

  • Complex problems

  • Chaotic problems

In this blog post we’ll look at all three, and discuss how to best approach them from a practical point of view.

IT Innovation: Solve Complicated Problems/Opportunities By Engaging Stakeholder Communities

Example, putting a man on the moon in 10 years. When you’re faced with something equally complicated within your organization, the best approach is to break down the problem into smaller pieces.

For this, you should focus on engaging the specific teams or stakeholder communities in the business who have relevant experience and/or understanding of smaller pieces. Through this, you can capture valuable and relevant ideas and the stakeholder community can collaboratively help develop the ideas into new solutions.

Approach:

  1. Determine Solution Requirements
  2. De-construct The Problem
  3. Engage Specific Stakeholder Communities
  4. Capture Ideas
  5. Collaborate With Stakeholders To Develop Solutions
  6. Re-construct The Problem
  7. Evaluate Solutions
  8. Select Best Solutions To Implement

IT Innovation: Solve Complex Problems/Opportunities Through Collaboration

Example, climate change. That’s one great example of a complex problem. They are unique in that there isn’t one definitive answer or solution.

So when tackling complex problems you should aim for the best outcome without being able to know if the problem is truly “solved”. Start by defining what the ultimate goal is, and then set out to capture new ideas that will help you get there.

Approach:

  1. Engage Relevant Stakeholder Communities
  2. Define A Goal For Stakeholders To Achieve, Not A Problem To Solve
  3. Capture Ideas
  4. Develop Different Solution Options
  5. Collaborate With Stakeholders To Determine Best Outcomes

IT Innovation: Solve Chaotic Problems/Opportunities By Crowdsourcing Ideas

Example, traffic movement/congestion. Since the whole problem can’t be solved you should select solutions that solve incremental parts of the big picture.

With chaotic problems, innovations can come from anywhere since the opportunity to improve is extremely broad. The best approach here is to engage everyone in the company in the innovation effort, inviting them to contribute ideas to your campaign. Capture a wide range of ideas, and then evaluate and filter the ideas to identify the most promising opportunities.

Approach:

  1. Engage Every In The Organization (All Stakeholders)
  2. Broad Opportunity To Innovate, Don’t Focus On A Small Area
  3. Capture As Many Relevant Ideas As Possible
  4. Encourage Stakeholder Community To Selection and Development Best Ideas

Engaging The Right Stakeholder Communities

When it comes to the different stakeholder communities used to solve the different categories of problems, complicated problems are best solved with specialist teams. For complex problems co-creation from the community is often best, starting with a goal rather than a problem and then selecting the best option.

And finally, chaotic problems are best solved by engaging everybody in the organization and giving the community a broad space to generate many different idea, as opposed to setting a specific goal, and then collaboratively evaluating, scoring and developing ideas through to launching a solution.

So what are we left with?

A Repeatable Process For IT Innovation

All of this needs to be done by putting rules and recognition/reward around a process – a process often dubbed “Gamification.” Participants are motivated from having autonomy (being part of the change), mastery (developing skills) and purpose (having meaningful contribution).

A defined, repeatable process helps to encourage creativity, because if there are no boundaries or guidance at all, it is harder for your engaged stakeholder community to think of something to be creative with. Organizations should put in place a way of managing their innovation process to make the best of crowdsourced ideas.

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