The Best Ideas Come From the Best People – Finding the Most Qualified Voices for Social Innovation

Many companies are embracing social methodologies – both internally and externally – to drive innovation.  And what so many groups have learned, the hard way, is that generating a large quantity of data is easy – sorting through it to parse out the useful information is not. We recently conducted a multi-client benchmark study identifying best practices in the application of social technologies to the product development process.  One of the ten best practices highlighted how one study participant that manages large social innovation communities is investing in technology that tracks not only the quality of the input, but also the qualifications of the participants.

The study participant wanted to maximize the quality of data generated by a community to drive decision-making & execution. They executed two approaches:

  • Develop the competency to screen participants for true idea generators.

  • Identify subject matter experts to drive decision-making, and establish a talent pool to tap subsequent innovation sessions (or to build on the current session) in an efficient and rapid manner.

Understanding that the identification of subject matter experts within a community enabled utilization of the best expertise, and increased the quality of innovation, the company implemented the following practices:

•       Did not allow anonymous participation.  Community members are qualified and invited to join, based on a their ability to provide valuable contributions

•       Utilized tools like BrightIdea’s Switchboard which allowed identification of subject matter experts –– both internal and external to the company.   The simplicity of the tool (email based) drives faster decision-making by providing a quick view of the idea and a key set of questions to answer.  Additionally, the more you use the tool, the more valuable it becomes to the community.  By tapping previously recognized experts, you can generate credible ideas faster.

The Results?

Qualified participants yield a much higher quality of data.    Additionally, with the use of subject matter experts, learning curves for subsequent campaigns are shortened.  Below are two examples from IBM using their JAM innovation methodology:

1.  OESA Jam:  Original Equipment Supplier Association and Auto Industry Thought Leaders redefine Supplier OEM Relationships

  • The economic pressures that required better collaboration in the supply chain drove first ever industry-wide Jam. This 77 hour event created 5 change concepts that reshaped how the industry approached collaboration, focused on innovation, and improved the value proposition for both suppliers & OEMs

2.  2010 Global Security Jam:  Re-thinking Modern Global Security

  • European Union sponsored Jam included 4,000 thought leaders from 20 international agencies. This 5-day brainstorming session resulted in 10 recommendations that were both innovative and pragmatic

If you’d like to learn how you can accelerate product creation using the Best Practices of Social Innovations, contact me for our benchmark study at