An idea gathering platform can be used for more than just solutions to problems, it can be used to source inputs into an innovation methodology that can be insightful and build a more innovative culture.
Idea gathering platforms have historically been meant to gather solutions to problems within a given company or work group. Perhaps a better way to leverage an internal platform is to gather feedback specific to employee engagement and satisfaction, but also to use the platform to feed an innovation methodology process by framing a problem to solve, discovering insights, piloting, and prototyping.
At ComEd we've held several ideathons meant to gather solutions from the work force to address a specific problem or opportunity. We've found that company wide efforts do not yield as many actionable ideas as a more focused, department specific approach. One of the best uses of an ideathon has been to solve issues in a given department that have been identified in the annual employee survey such as employees not feeling valued, poor communication from management or lack of ability and time to innovate. By focusing an ideathon on a specific issue that is negatively impacting the work force, we've been able to make improvements that have been significant to our work force.
But we are investigating using an internal idea gathering platform to feed small innovation teams that are using the Exelon Innovation Methodology to solve a specific challenge. The innovation methodology used at Exelon is patterned after the Notre Dame Certified Innovation Mentor program and consists to 5 distinct phases. Discovery, Insight gathering, Ideation, Piloting and Launch. Any of these phases could benefit from an ideathon of fairly experienced or well trained users to provide input.
Using the workforce for more than just solution ideas will build a stronger culture of innovation and familiarity with the model we use to achieve results. Also, focusing crowd sourcing efforts on specific stages of the innovation methodology will drive understanding and familiarity with the process.
Getting the workforce trained, excited and engaged will be critical to providing an ongoing pipeline of input for the innovation methodology.
ComEd will first train "Innovation Ambassadors" on the innovation methodology and then begin using them to provide problem framing suggestions and insights that will be used in the ideation sessions.