Monday, October 31, 2011

Collaborative Ideation is a lot like the show Survivor. There are winners and losers.

Collaborative Idea Management Systems are mini experiments looking into human behaviors that result in out of the box thinking. They’re not just electronic suggestion boxes.

When you get a bunch of smart people posting ideas and then invite others to comment, you invite chaos and disruption. If you’re lucky, the serendipitous discovery of great (breakthrough, revenue producing, cost saving) ideas pop up.

Collaborative Ideation is a little like the show Survivor: When you log into the dialog about ideas you get to see who prospers, who gets double crossed, and who gets voted off the island.

The communities that form in a collaborative idea management system are complex. With hundreds of users from different disciplines, interests and locations, an exponential number of viewpoints are boiling in that ocean. In some companies one negative comment can kill a (good) idea but before the inventor even notes that comment, a dozen different positive ones can smother its effect.

New words get created in this dialog. And suddenly people are remarkably “frank” with this new found anonymous organizational engagement. Management may be frightened by what they see. Innovation managers might be rapidly adjusting different users’ permissions as a result. But there is a beauty to this madness enabling constant surprise. After a thorough discussion a word meaning “bad” might start meaning “good”. You say two rights don’t make a wrong? I say: “Yeah, yeah”.

Even if one doesn’t know it when they type a certain idea… it may prove to be a giant risk for the author and the company. By the time new voices pick it apart, the organization may have changed its outlook sufficiently where the new idea is not only acceptable but easily embraced.

With different outlooks comes different ways of looking at things.

  • People who live in countries where the women wear headscarves probably pay more attention to facial features.
  • Polite societies are hesitant to talk about private topics.
  • Engineers look at the company’s ability to manufacture the new product someone suggested.
  • Financial people look at the idea’s ability to generate cash.
  • Marketing people think about how their customers will look at the new product idea.

Each different contributor sees the world through their own particular lens.

Rewarding people in a collaborative environment is tricky. It is not a one-to-one relationship. First off you have to reward people for behaviors that are constructive. Sometimes it’s indirect. So for instance it’s better to reward people for contributions not necessarily for ideas. Because if people submit lots of contributions you’ll end up with lots of ideas.

And it’s not usually just one person who is responsible for a good idea. It is usually a bunch of people submitting similar ideas that get clustered together into one superior concept. In fact one criterion for automatic idea promotion should be “the most similar ideas suggested” (not just votes). So how do you reward all those people? Do you give the reward to the strategist? Do you give the reward to the one who put in the most work (comments, invitations, analysis)? Each has (different) value.

Failure to reward properly can cause people to leave or merely have their heart leave their work. When an effort is complex, rewards must be complex, too. Rewards take many forms like communal values such as dignity, compassion and mutual respect. Money and other tangible items (t-shirts, cars, iPads) are too simplistic and easily monopolized which inevitably fail to do justice to everyone’s varied contributions.

Lastly you can best encourage participation by asking people what they’re likely to want to do anyway. No point asking for a financial analysis from a marketing guy, no point asking for marketability from a quant. A select group of challenges that appeal to the mindset of the community will get clicked on. A spirited discussion on a topic where everyone has an opinion will stimulate collaboration. And once again, collaboration leads to ideas.

(Sidebar, don’t bring up the famous arguments that will never get resolved. I don’t participate on Facebook when the issue is Republican vs. Democrat, Pro-Life vs. Women’s Rights, nor the most violent of arguments….Mac Vs. PC.

The point is collaborative idea management systems have a life of their own. Groups of people with common areas of interest find each other in order to work on a project. Behaviors are noted and experts become apparent.

You just have to be risk taker enough and willing to create Eden. Then watch hopefully to see if anyone takes a bite of the apple from the tree of knowledge. It might be painful, your idea shot down, but you never know: Your best ideas sometimes bubbles up to the top with everyone’s agreement. It’s worth the risk.

Ron Shulkin is Vice President of the Americas for CogniStreamer®, an innovation management system. You can learn more about CogniStreamer here

Ron manages The Idea Management Group on LinkedIn (Join Here) . He has written extensively on Idea Management (Read Here) .Also search on "cognistreamer" here on the FEI blog site and you'll get a list of my weekly guest blogger entries.

CogniStreamer® is an idea management software tool. It is an open innovation and collaboration platform where internal colleagues and external partner companies or knowledge centers join forces to create, develop and assess innovative ideas within strategically selected areas. The CogniStreamer® portal is an ideal collaborative platform that invites users to actively build a strong innovation portfolio. In addition it provides a powerful resource for internal and external knowledge sharing. The CogniStreamer® framework is used by industry leaders such as Atlas Copco, Bekaert, Case New Holland, Cytec, Imec, Philip Morris International, Picanol, ThyssenKrupp, Vesta and Vesuvius. CogniStreamer® represents the best use of adaptive collaborative technology such to harness human skill, ingenuity and intelligence.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


CALL FOR PRESENTERS: Front End of Innovation US

Call 646.895.7330 or email by November 1, 2011

Front End of Innovation US
Event Date: May 15-17, 2012
Location: Peabody Orlando, FL

The Institute for International Research (IIR) is currently seeking presenters for:

May 15-17, 2012
The Peabody Orlando, FL

The Call for Presenters is now open for the 10th annual Front End of Innovation event. Due to the high volume of submissions, we suggest you submit your proposal early and no later than November 1, 2011 to Kelly Schram, Program Director at

Only corporate/client-side speakers will be considered. If you are a consultant or a solution/technology provider, please see contact details below for sponsorship/exhibit opportunities. Speakers receive FREE admission to the conference.

FEI is all about the Experience. We are looking for the following types of submissions:

·         Solo Presentations: Priority will be given to presentations that highlight NEW information on case studies that haven't already been shared at another event.
·         Panel Contributors: We are looking for panel contributors to submit a short description of what unique angle or perspective you'd like to share within a specific topic.
·         FEI Facilitators/Moderators/Interactive Sessions: Collective intelligence is the key to innovation. We are looking for expert facilitators to conduct a collaborative activity or discussion.

On the following Areas of Interest:
·         Business Model Adjacencies
·         Creating Buy In
·         Creativity
·         Design Thinking
·         Future Trends Summit
·         Getting a Product off the Ground
·         Industrial Design
·         Innovation Culture
·         Innovation in a Down Economy
·         Leadership & Innovation
·         Metrics, Measurement, ROI
·         Partnering & Co-Creation Summit
·         Portfolio Management
·         Reverse Innovation
·         Social Media
·         Teamwork
·         Voice of the Customer

Sponsorship & Exhibit Opportunities:

If you are interested in sponsorship or exhibit opportunities please contact Sarene Yablonsky, Global Business Development Manager at or 646.895.7474.


For consideration, please e-mail with the following information by November 1, 2011:

·         Proposed speaker name(s), job title(s), and company name(s)
·         The main theme you plan to address
·         Which format you'd like to present
·         Please indicate what is NEW about the presentation
What the audience will gain or learn from your presentation (please list 3-5 deliverables)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Learn New Techniques for Naming And More: Complimentary Webinars

At the 2011 Future Trends event, Nina Beckhardt of The Naming Group presented the fascinating session "Innovating Brand Language: How to Balance Differentiation and Consumer Understanding."

If you'd like to learn more about naming, consider joining us for a complimentary web seminar “Choosing a name with confidence using new research techniques” on Thursday, October 27, 2011 from 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM EDT

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
Use priority code MWS0043TwitterBlog when registering

Selecting the right name for your product or service is one of the most important decisions a company can make – yet many traditional naming research studies create more questions than confidence. Can we risk something abstract? Does your category call for a name that is literal? In addition, what does well in brainstorming or qualitative might not pass muster with a broader audience who may be rating a name purely on appeal.

With this webinar, BuzzBack invites you to learn new techniques for naming. Through case studies, we'll demonstrate how you can integrate online qualitative techniques with scores and quantitative metrics to understand:
• what your name communicates and why
• visuals and imagery associated with the name
• emotional reactions elicited
• how memorable your name is

Featured Speaker: Brendan Light, SVP, Research & Development, BuzzBack Market Research

Plus, join us for these other web seminars in our ongoing series:
On Thursday, November 3rd, join IIR and Autonomy for “Understanding the Voice of the Customer: How to Effectively Gather and Leverage Customer Insight from Multiple Channels to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience”

Join us on this webcast and learn how you can easily gather and leverage data from all customer touchpoints to deliver a superior multichannel customer experience. Learn how you can easily:

• Collect real-time customer insight across channels
• Discover and act upon emerging customer trends
• Deliver a more personal and targeted customer experience
• Increase customer loyalty and reduce churn

Register here:

Then, on Tues, Nov 15, 2011 at 1:00 PM EST join us for ”Targeting: How to Effectively Reach the Unidentified 90% of Your Audience”
Find out how to discover high value segments and the best way to optimize against these segments over time to maximize response. Learn how you can efficiently leverage insights from all your marketing channels to transform the effectiveness of your initiatives for the highest return on spend.

Mallika Chakravarti, Subject Matter Expert, Autonomy
Annie Weinberger, VP Marketing
Register here

Monday, October 17, 2011

Imaginatik announces groundbreaking solution for the “back end” of innovation

Results Engine provides missing link between idea collection and measurable innovation results

BOSTON, Mass., Oct. 17, 2011 – Imaginatik plc (AIM: IMTK), the founder of the Idea Management technology category, announced today the release of Results Engine, the world’s first comprehensive idea-graduation platform. This major new offering represents Imaginatik’s latest breakthrough in the quest to support all phases of the enterprise innovation cycle.

Imaginatik will unveil Results Engine at the Back End of Innovation conference in San Diego this month. Presently in beta trials with numerous current clients, Results Engine will be available to the general public Tuesday, Nov. 1.

Results Engine is a cloud-based platform that allows business leaders to manage, track, and develop ideas into full-fledged innovation projects, using processes (including stage gates) they may customize according to their needs. With Results Engine, a company’s leadership will chart its innovation portfolio across the organization, and tie metrics on business value back to innovation projects and the ideas that created them.

“No longer is the back end of innovation an elusive, hard-to-manage hand-off from one department to the next,” explained Luis Solis, president, North America, Imaginatik. “Results Engine integrates the innovation model from front to back, providing that bridge between idea collection, innovation development, and launch.”

This new software technology works directly with Innovation Central, Imaginatik’s award-winning enterprise innovation platform, by allowing managers to cluster ideas into projects. It provides transparency into the innovation process by keeping track of all actions performed on those ideas, and increases accountability by providing a measurable system for idea implementation. Leaders can use this data to calculate their return on investment.

Results Engine will premiere at the Back End of Innovation Conference in San Diego Oct. 17-19, 2011. For more information visit For press inquiries contact Bryan Mahoney, Imaginatik plc, at or 617-960-4713.

About Imaginatik
Imaginatik partners with today’s innovation giants, and creates tomorrow’s innovation leaders. Our mission is to help companies develop sustainable innovation capacity within the organization. Through the right mix of best-practice advice, program management expertise, and an award-winning software platform, we help our clients reach their full innovation potential. Imaginatik is the trusted partner of leading global organizations including The World Bank, NYSE Euronext, Lubrizol, Medco, Cargill, State Farm, Whirlpool, CSC, Chubb, Bombardier, Xerox, and Goodyear.

Future Trends in Photos: The Trendz Walk, Part 2

October 4th through 6th, I had the pleasure of attending the Future Trends conference. As part of this year's event, I got to experience the unique Miami Trendz Walk curated by Steven van der Kruit, Creative Director & Visionary, Firmenich Perfumery and Mikel Cirkus Global Director, Conceptual Design, Firmenich Flavors.

Future Trends 002

Firmenich's 'Trenz®Walking' is an unique system to detect trends in their infancy (mostly 3-4 years before they globally manifest themselves). It allows not only to signal the new early, but also to reveal the process of change/trends.

You can read my initial thoughts on the experience here. As part of the walk we visited the neighborhood of Wynwood, which houses the Wynwood Walls, a sort of outdoor gallery of street art. The Wynwood Art District is a sub-district of Wynwood that contains over many galleries and art collections.

Below, see some of my photographs of the art we viewed, or visit our flickr pool for more.

Do you look to street art for emerging trends? Will you in the future?

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She may be reached at

Monday, October 10, 2011

Preaching to the choir: Idea management systems bring in a wider sphere of influence

This blog entry is about why it is important to collaborate across your company’s disciplines and divisions while having the support and encouragement of your management. The topic is innovation, why it is important for everyone to come up with new ideas to keep any given company’s product offerings fresh, new and cutting edge. And how great ideas are the result of a collaboration of diverse people.

It doesn’t do anyone any good to “preach to the choir”. In my little group, I’m sure we all agree our ideas and our way of doing things are just great. After all, we all have similar backgrounds, work on the same topics and produce similar results. But to be successful, you need your ideas to get “viral” and leave your immediate sphere.

And to get your ideas to be viral, you firstly need someone to stand up and state their case: “I have a good idea, gosh darn it”. That sort of behavior will get your friends and, more importantly, the friends of your friends to stand up and say, “Whoa, wait a minute here, that can’t be right” or “Yes, that sounds good, but…” You need some contentiousness. You need a healthy argument.

Of course you also need the time to work on it. You need to be told by management that everyone should be working on new ideas. And when new ideas are surfaced, everyone needs to be encouraged. The previous three sentences are euphemisms for monetary rewards: If everyone collaborates (as measured by their collaborative activity) they get a monetary reward. If a good idea surfaces as a result of many people collaborating then everyone gets a monetary reward.

The best ideas need to be turned into success stories. It has to be apparent to everyone that good ideas result in those monetary rewards. “Hey look, this guy spent 10 percent of his time on collaborating toward good ideas and he got a bunch of money”. Why not me?

An immediate result of the collaborative work group would be everyone’s access to troves of valuable data. The mere act of collaboration will enable many people to read the views of others, review the raw material everyone submitted and all this will generate new ideas.

Just as an example, today’s blog entry was influenced by my encounters with a bunch of research into subjects outside my normal realm. Only by collaborating with people in different disciplines was I able to come to some (now) obvious conclusions:

  • I read an article about how the President’s viewers during his speeches are down to just partisans in his favor (preaching to the choir).
  • I read “Dating and Drinking Diffusion in Adolescent Peer Networks” in the American Sociological Review (how our behavior is influenced by our friend’s friends).
  • I noted how social capital promotes safety on the roads (living closer to work allows people to have more time to be friendly and work together).
  • · I saw a study on “Psychosocial Resources, Threat and Perception of Distance and Height” (self esteem yields more confident decisions).
  • I saw an article of how the Harvard Graduate School of Education is involved in the Boston community (how different outlooks into the same problem can allow intersecting influences; how new data can be surfaced).

If you have a ‘think tank” in your company, that is not enough. It does no good if a company’s R&D team is in, but not of, the community. The larger group’s input is what yields greater thought. The pragmatics amongst them can say “Hey that idea is not real world”. The thinkers amongst them can say “That idea is not supported by the data”. The sum total is that compromise, sometimes measured just by the interest generated, that bubbles up to the top and makes innovation managers say “Wait a second I think we have something here”.

Rarely does anyone work in isolation. All of us work in networks. A collaborative environment, especially one wearing a DiBono blue hat, heads down focused on ideas, enables different fields of inquiry to influence each other. These idea management systems present a place for all your smart people to show up and share their ideas. The group-think throws old thinking out the window…no more do members of any given discipline “preach to the choir”. Instead the entire congregation is working together toward a common goal of out of the box thinking and eventually over achievement. Hallelujah!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

How to get a Free Pass to Back End of Innovation Conference

Blogger Needed at BEI!

That’s right, we’re offering an exclusive all-access complimentary pass (a $3,590+ value) to BEI: The Back End of Innovation Conference on October 17-19 in La Jolla, California !

We’re looking for an experienced blogger who is well-versed in innovation to begin blogging now and at this year’s BEI event.

In return for your posts, you’ll be able to connect with BEI speakers and fellow attendees, attend educational sessions and training seminars delivered by industry thought-leaders and corporate practitioners on the content areas of innovation.

How to apply:

To apply to be a guest blogger, simply send your name, title, company and a few writing samples (a link to your blog is recommended) to no later than Friday, October 14, 2011. We will review the submissions and contact all winners directly with more details.

This opportunity doesn’t come often and we encourage you to apply and join us at BEI this month!

Live from Future Trends: "The Cure For The Common Trend."

Dipanjan Chatterjee started off the afternoon at Future Trends discussing "The Cure For The Common Trend." After letting us down gently that we would not all be receiving free Missoni product, Chatterjee discussed tactical strategies for achieving trends at Target.

His two suggestions for "the Cure" were "Carpe Diem" and "Kumbaya," which is to say finding the correct information to seize onto, and then setting the correct setting and context in your company in order to achieve consensus and acceptance within your organization.

Within Target he created a "trend agency" within the company to support the following functions: trend research and support, facilitation of ideation sessions, and informing to inspire and innovate. But this agency needed "the Cure." For example, to cure trend research, he found other individuals working on trending within the company to learn from and he performed competitive research personally in order to have specific information to present within the company from an enterprise-wide perspective.

Another key takeaway from this session: When it comes to communication strategy, one size does not fit all. Tailor information to suit the audience, know when you need a 3-minute read versus a 5-minute read. By tailoring information for different audiences, he was able to grow a sizable email list of higher-ups who were actively opting-in to receive trend information.

Lastly, when facilitating ideation within your organization, Dipanjan suggest moving from IQ to emotional intelligence. Which is to say, preparing the participants beforehand to create an ideal space for a successful conversation, be it through research or acknowledging the physiological aspects of disagreement.

On one hand... uncertainty is as uncertainty does [Steve Jobs].

On the other hand, uncertainty is unpredictable. Likely why we call it uncertainty.

But, we can't go on with out paying tribute to Steve Jobs. As, his death is a personal example of unpredictable events in our lives.

We honor your passion Steve Jobs
His impact on all of our lives is hard to measure, but easy to feel. It hurts to think about missing him and many of us didn't even know him, shake his hand or spend a moment in a room with him.

Yet we knew him through what he put in our hands. He understood the intuitive nature of design and could translate what he feels about design into something many of us connected with -- personally.

We recently used the IDEATION culture Steve created at Apple as an example in a blog post about innovation. You can find it here.

We are all sitting here in a Future Trends conference listening to the beautiful accent of Genevieve Berger, Chief Research and Development Officer at Unilever. As she talks about seeing trends we all must wonder what life would have been like if Steve had not become the person he did.

Thank you Steve Jobs, not for producing a lifetime of Apple products, but for being a leader, an example and a hero of design. We appreciate all the known and unknown influence you've had in our collective lives.

We honor you and hope to see you in heaven.

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