Applying Social Communities to Product Innovation: Social Innovation Readiness Scorecard

The Social Innovation Readiness Scorecard is a decision-making tool that provides executives and teams with an objective view of their organizations’ capability to successfully implement social solutions to drive product innovation. The scorecard helps you determine whether or not the team is best prepared to launch a social solution by providing critical questions in ten areas. These include the current use of social technologies outside of product development, level of management commitment, social community resource expertise, maturity of tools, and organizational structure to support the requirements for best-in-class application of social communities. The Social Innovation Readiness Scorecard allows you to identify the critical areas that many organizations overlook and the weak areas that you need to address prior to launching a social development initiative.

The scorecard itself is a spreadsheet that you supplement with a group process. Typically, you would get a subset of your executive staff or senior directors together for a real-time meeting session (could be virtual) that would last one to two hours. You instruct your group on the definition of the various dimensions of readiness, and then after the stand-up instruction, each person in the group individually fills out their scorecards, ranking the readiness of your organization without discussion. Then the facilitator collects all the scores and computes the average and the standard deviation. In cases where the standard deviation is high, the facilitator asks some of the low-ranking individuals why they rated a dimension low and similarly why high-ranking individuals ranked it high. After comparing differences, your facilitator asks if anyone would like to change their ranking. This gives everyone an opportunity to vote based on a common understanding.

After performing the self-assessment, the next step is to create an action plan. Your facilitator would take the scorecard and the discussion out of the room with them to plan a tune-up if needed (usually identified by low scores in conjunction with corporate need). After the facilitator holds more interviews and collects further data, your organization will have a prioritized list of initiative areas to improve the readiness of your social innovation efforts.

What’s New?

Social media and the solutions that build on it are taking the enterprise by storm. Many companies use social solutions in marketing and customer support, but they can also apply them to the product development process to increase both innovation and time to market (we’re not talking about using Facebook and Twitter, but actually using professional social collaboration tools). The most important aspect of applying social technologies to product innovation is the ability to create a “community” of technical thought leaders where they can share, build upon, and develop ideas. However, you need a methodology to prioritize and implement these solutions. You can apply social communities internally to harness the innovative thinking and problem solving across the company. You can also use them as an ideation and collaboration platform with your customers. For geographically dispersed organizations, social solutions are a superior method for gathering, evaluating, and managing internal ideas.

The application of new social technologies in the product development space is a new approach for companies, and we expect it to become an increasingly important methodology. Best practices in the area of social product innovation have emerged, and companies that apply these best practices are seeing good results. One common stumbling block for companies is trying to implement a social strategy without fully understanding how to optimize the process or how to integrate it into existing product development processes. The Social Innovation Readiness Scorecard solves this problem and allows the management team to provide their organization with their best chance at success.


  • Provides a new methodology for accelerating innovation and time to market in your product development organization

  • Identifies organizational strengths and weaknesses that will impact your probability of success

  • Helps you avoid mistakes in the implementation process

    • Creates a framework for managing the implementation of social solutions

Which Business Problems Do We Solve?

Never has it been more important to innovate on an accelerated timeline. Applying social technology in the enterprise is not a fad. It has become a vital tool that goes way beyond its early applications in marketing, customer support, and training functions. The Social Innovation Readiness Scorecard will ensure that you get the most out of increasing the quality of ideas within your organization and will help accelerate the rich collaboration that leads to groundbreaking innovation.

What Else Should You Know?

When companies first applied social media to their enterprises, there was a big rush to implement a social strategy. Unfortunately, many companies stumbled because they jumped before they really understood the framework they needed to be successful. They needed new tools, processes, roles & responsibilities, and decision-making models for successful implementation. Getting the most out of social communities also requires changes in how organizations share information and make decisions. It’s critical to understand these nuances to optimize the effectiveness of this methodology. The Social Innovation Readiness Scorecard will ensure that you ask the right questions and engage the right resources before you jump into implementation.

Case Study

NetCo has a strong R&D organization consisting of a total of 5,000 engineers and scientists located in five R&D centers around the world. The EVP of engineering, Bill, is not satisfied with the level of innovation that is coming from his team, nor does he think that they are collaborating effectively. It is critical for NetCo to innovate faster and on a more regular cadence in order to maintain their technology leadership in an increasingly more competitive market. Bill has heard rumblings about the benefits of using social solutions to drive innovation, but the marketing organization has had mixed results, and he doesn’t want to drag the team through a new process without understanding its viability. He applies the Social Innovation Readiness Scorecard method to ensure that he and the executive team have asked the right questions and resolved the gaps before they invest their time in the process.


The results of the assessment indicate that there are three areas that he needs to work on before the rollout. He has enlisted the help of his lead program manager to drive the following initiatives with the goal of implementing a social community within three months:

  • Implement a third-party social platform: internal tools for collaboration are not sufficient, and Bill doesn’t want to use his limited technical resources to develop an in-house solution. He asks the lead program manager to investigate and implement a third-party SaaS (software as a service) solution.

  • Identify a community manager: an unmanaged collaboration community can lead to sub-optimal results. It’s a new skill set for the organization, and Bill cannot delegate it to someone who doesn’t understand how to create and manage a vibrant community. He can either hire someone with this experience or work with the third-party solution provider to include this skill set until he can add someone permanently.

    • Ensure that the community is working on a high-impact, but narrowly focused objective: communities that are too broadly focused will not create the highest-quality input. In addition, once the community loses its vibrancy, the team will stop participating.

By performing the analysis, the team comes up with the scorecard below. The areas where the mean is below three on a five-point scale or the standard deviation is greater than one are shaded. You can communicate the ratings of each of the ten dimensions by giving examples of low versus high levels of performance for each dimension so that your team can provide more precise ratings.

The table above indicates in the right column the relative degree of social innovation readiness where a rating of one would be the first entry, a rating of three would represent the middle entry, and a rating of five would be the last entry. Below are the details for each category to help you assign a rating scale from one (minimum readiness) to five (maximum readiness).

Social Readiness Scorecard 2

Social Readiness Scorecard 2