As discussed in one of our other blogs it is essential to guide people to think outside of the right box. However finding the right Collaborative Innovation topics can be challenging.

We have listed a number of ways that allow you to unleash your creative potential and drive innovation by discovering a diverse range of new Collaborative Innovation topics.

Fail to plan, plan to fail.

“There’s a time and place for everything. But not now!” Rushing into action without proper consideration will lead to setbacks (waste of time and resources, expectation mismatch, reduced engagement,…). So when selecting an innovation topic, there are two key things to look into before leaping.

The right Audience

Before proceeding, consider your audience. It’s important to keep in mind that not every subject will resonate with everyone. This one is mainly about having the right expectations when you launch a new topic in your Collaborative Innovation community. Answering these questions can give you a clearer understanding of your ideal audience and help you to target the right people for your innovation challenge.

  • Persons of Interest: Who are the people that would benefit from a solution to this problem or opportunity? Who is likely to use it?
  • Current actors: Who is currently addressing this problem or opportunity and how can you reach them?
  • Money, money, money: Who has the resources and interest to participate in the innovation challenge and contribute to finding a solution?
  • Influencers: Who is likely to spread the word about the innovation challenge and help to bring in more participants?

Unfortunately, the more, the merrier is not always true – if it were only that easy 🙂 It is important to not overload people with topics where they don’t connect with. Some story about “a boy who cried wolf” should offer you sufficient insight into why this would be the case.

The right Focus

Ensure you have given affirmative answers to these three vital questions before embarking on a public launch:

  • Strategic alignment: Is the topic aligned with the strategy and vision of the Company?
  • Relevance: Is the topic relevant and does it address a need or challenge faced by our customers, employees or on the market?
  • Investor: Is there a business sponsor for the ideas? / Do we have time & resources to work on the ideas we will be collecting?

Yes, Yes and Yes? Alright let’s go! 👇

The Usual Suspects

There are several ways you can find new innovation topics for your company. Hereunder you can find some of the most popular, yet effective ways to come up with new Collaborative Innovation topics.

  1. Industry trends and events: Stay informed about the latest developments and trends in your industry. Attend trade shows, conferences, and other events where you can network and learn from others.
  2. Market research: Conduct surveys, focus groups, and other market research to understand what customers need and want.
  3. Competitor analysis: Look at what your competitors are doing and find ways to differentiate yourself and stand out in the market.
  4. Employee feedback: Ask your employees for their thoughts and ideas on how the company can improve and innovate. Employee suggestions can be a valuable source of new ideas.
  5. Social media and online forums: Follow industry leaders and influencers on social media and participate in online forums to learn about new technologies, trends, and challenges.
  6. Collaborate with partners and suppliers: Partner with other companies and suppliers to share knowledge and resources, and to jointly develop new products and services.
  7. Stay updated with new technologies: Stay informed about the latest technological advancements and see how they can be applied to your business.

By staying informed, actively seeking out new themes, and engaging with a wide range of stakeholders, you can continuously identify new Collaborative Innovation topics for your company.

The Surprising Candidates

#1: Crowdsourcing

rowdsourcing of innovation topics is a valuable approach for several reasons:

  1. Diverse Perspectives: It leverages the collective intelligence of a diverse group of individuals, drawing upon their varied experiences, backgrounds, and expertise. This diversity often leads to a wider range of innovative ideas.
  2. Engagement and Ownership: Involving employees at all levels, from frontline workers to middle management and executives, fosters a sense of ownership and engagement in the innovation process. When people have a say in shaping the agenda, they are more likely to support and champion the resulting initiatives.
  3. Alignment with Real Needs: Crowdsourcing ensures that innovation efforts are closely aligned with the real needs and priorities of the organization. The topics and challenges brought forward often reflect the issues that matter most to the workforce and the company’s strategic goals.
  4. Democratization of Innovation: It democratizes innovation, allowing everyone to contribute ideas and participate in the decision-making process. This inclusivity promotes a culture of innovation where everyone’s input is valued.
  5. Efficiency and Relevance: Crowdsourcing helps filter out ideas that may not be as relevant or impactful, focusing resources on the topics that have received the most support and enthusiasm.
  6. Employee Development: It provides an opportunity for skill development and personal growth among employees who participate in the process. Employees gain experience in ideation, problem-solving, and collaboration.
  7. Transparency and Trust: An open and transparent process fosters trust within the organization. Employees can see that their input is valued, and decisions are made based on merit and popularity.

Who should be involved in the crowdsourcing of innovation topics:

  1. Middle Management: They bring valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities facing their teams and departments. Involving middle managers ensures that innovation aligns with operational needs.
  2. Frontline Employees: They often have a deep understanding of customer pain points, process inefficiencies, and opportunities for improvement. Their input can lead to practical and customer-centric innovations.
  3. Executives and Leadership: High-level executives can provide strategic direction and priorities for innovation. Their support and sponsorship are crucial for allocating resources and driving initiatives forward.
  4. Cross-Functional Teams: Including members from various departments and functions ensures a holistic perspective and promotes collaboration. Cross-functional teams can address complex challenges more effectively.
  5. Innovation Teams: If your organization has dedicated innovation teams or departments, they play a vital role in facilitating the crowdsourcing process, managing the platform or channels, and driving the implementation of selected topics.
  6. External Stakeholders: In some cases, external stakeholders such as customers, partners, or suppliers can be involved to gain insights from outside the organization’s boundaries.

Crowdsourcing of innovation topics is an inclusive and powerful method to harness the collective wisdom of your organization. It encourages broad participation and ensures that innovation efforts are aligned with both the strategic goals and the real-world challenges and opportunities facing your organization.

Here’s a brief hands-on approach:

  1. Start with a Call to Action: Organize a call for topics and urge your
  2. submit the challenges they are eager to see resolved or the opportunities they want to address. Their active involvement in this process sets the stage for their commitment to supporting idea execution.
  3. Broaden the Conversation: Extend the invitation to your entire innovation community, encouraging them to participate by voting for their favorite challenges or opportunities. This inclusive approach empowers employees at all levels to have a say in shaping the innovation agenda.
  4. Identify Top Priorities: After the votes are cast and counted, pinpoint the top 3 or 5 topics that have received the most enthusiastic support. These crowd-endorsed topics become your immediate focus, aligning your innovation efforts with the collective wisdom and interests of your innovation community.
  5. Launch with Purpose: Now, with the selected topics in hand, take action by launching targeted initiatives aimed at solving these challenges or exploring the identified opportunities. Engage the best-fit target groups who are well-positioned to drive these innovations forward.

#2: Strategic workshops

Strategic Workshops: Organize a brainstorm session with different business units and their managers / core personnel. If you need a hand in this, we can definitely recommend talking to one of our preferred partners. They’ll be happy to help you out!

#3: Innovation Challenge Backlog

Don’t shoot all your arrows at once. In the realm of innovation, it’s often unwise to expend all your creative energy in a single burst.

Whether through strategic workshops or the collective intelligence of crowdsourcing, you’re likely to generate a surplus of innovation topics, far beyond what you can address in one go. This is where the notion of the “innovation challenge backlog” comes into play. Rather than allowing potentially valuable ideas to languish or become lost, this approach entails cataloging these challenges in a systematic backlog. While it’s true that some challenges may eventually lose relevance or become redundant, many of the fundamental issues facing your company tend to endure over time.

By maintaining this innovation challenge backlog, you not only ensure that no valuable ideas slip through the cracks but also establish a structured framework for prioritizing and tackling these challenges. This approach provides the flexibility needed to address pressing concerns while preserving the capacity to pivot swiftly when unforeseen opportunities or shifts in the market landscape arise. In essence, it’s a strategic and dynamic method for nurturing a culture of innovation that recognizes the enduring nature of many corporate challenges and the need to adapt to a constantly evolving environment.

#4 Try to kill your company

The “try to kill your company” mindset is a concept that encourages organizations to critically evaluate their own business models, products, and services as if they were external competitors aiming to disrupt or outperform them. This mindset can lead to innovation in the following ways:

  1. Fostering Disruption: By challenging the status quo and questioning the sustainability of current offerings, organizations are more likely to identify areas in need of improvement or potential disruption.
  2. Encouraging Creativity: It encourages employees to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions to the imagined threat. This can result in the development of new products, services, or business models.
  3. Enhancing Agility: Organizations that adopt this mindset become more agile and adaptable to change. They are better prepared to respond to market shifts and emerging technologies.
  4. Customer-Centric Focus: It forces organizations to consider the evolving needs and preferences of their customers, leading to customer-centric innovations that are more likely to succeed.

The importance of the future customer versus the danger of the present customer highlights the need for businesses to balance short-term profitability with long-term viability:

  1. Importance of the Future Customer: Focusing on the future customer means anticipating and meeting the evolving needs and expectations of customers in the years to come. It ensures that the organization remains relevant and competitive in the long term.
  2. Danger of the Present Customer: Overly prioritizing the present customer without considering the future customer can lead to complacency. Relying solely on current customer preferences and market conditions may make the organization vulnerable to disruption by more forward-thinking competitors.

In summary, the “try to kill your company” mindset encourages innovation by challenging the organization to think critically and creatively about its future. Balancing the needs of the present customer with a forward-looking focus on the future customer is essential for long-term success and competitiveness.

#5 Momentum gets them rolling

Companies need to embrace momentum opportunities or issues to craft the right innovation topics for their innovation community by:

  1. Acting Proactively: When an incident or opportunity arises, companies should act proactively to leverage it as a catalyst for innovation. This requires swift recognition of the situation and a willingness to seize the moment.
  2. Creating a Sense of Urgency: Communicate the importance and urgency of addressing the issue or opportunity to the innovation community. This helps galvanize their efforts and focus on the specific challenge at hand.
  3. Engaging Cross-Functional Teams: Encourage collaboration among cross-functional teams within the organization to tackle the issue comprehensively. Diverse perspectives can lead to more innovative solutions.
  4. Seeking Input and Ideas: Solicit input and ideas from employees, customers, and stakeholders who may have unique insights or solutions related to the momentum opportunity or issue.
  5. Fostering a Culture of Innovation: Use the momentum to reinforce the organization’s commitment to innovation. Show that the company values creative thinking and problem-solving.
  6. Leveraging Technology: Utilize technology and innovation platforms to facilitate idea generation, collaboration, and the development of solutions related to the issue or opportunity.
  7. Iterating and Learning: Emphasize an iterative approach, where ideas are tested, refined, and improved based on feedback and results. Learning from each iteration helps craft more effective innovation topics.
  8. Recognizing and Rewarding Contributors: Acknowledge and reward employees who actively contribute to addressing the momentum opportunity or issue. This recognition can encourage continued participation.
  9. Documenting Insights: Document the insights gained from addressing the issue, as these can inform future innovation topics and strategies. Ensure that lessons learned are shared across the organization.
  10. Maintaining Long-Term Focus: While addressing immediate issues, companies should also consider the long-term implications and opportunities that may arise as a result of their actions. This helps ensure sustained innovation momentum.

Incorporating momentum opportunities or issues into the innovation process allows companies to respond dynamically to changing circumstances and stay ahead of the curve. It demonstrates agility and adaptability, which are key traits of innovative organizations.

#6 Care to trust an AI?

Using AI to discover new innovation topics for your organization can be a powerful strategy. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it effectively:

  1. Understand Your Goals and Objectives:
    • Begin by defining your organization’s innovation goals and objectives. What specific problems or opportunities do you want to address through innovation?
  2. Data Collection and Integration:
    • Gather relevant data sources both internally and externally. This may include customer feedback, market research, industry reports, social media data, and more.
    • Integrate all this data into a centralized database or data repository to ensure easy access and analysis.
  3. Select Appropriate AI Tools:
    • Choose the right AI tools and technologies for your innovation discovery process. Some options include natural language processing (NLP), machine learning algorithms, and data analytics platforms.
  4. Data Preprocessing:
    • Clean and preprocess your data. This step involves removing duplicates, handling missing values, and standardizing data formats.
  5. Text Analysis and NLP:
    • Utilize NLP techniques to analyze unstructured text data, such as customer feedback, reviews, or industry articles.
    • Extract keywords, topics, and sentiments from the text to identify emerging trends and areas of interest.
  6. Machine Learning Models:
    • Train machine learning models on historical data to predict future trends and identify patterns.
    • Implement clustering algorithms to group similar data points, revealing common themes and potential innovation areas.
  7. Social Listening and Monitoring:
    • Use AI-driven social listening tools to track online conversations and discussions related to your industry, products, or services.
    • Identify emerging trends, consumer sentiments, and pain points that can guide your innovation efforts.
  8. Collaborative Filtering:
    • Implement collaborative filtering algorithms to recommend potential innovation topics based on the preferences and behaviors of your target audience or employees.
  9. Visualizations and Dashboards:
    • Create interactive data visualizations and dashboards to present your findings in a user-friendly format.
    • Visual representations can help stakeholders easily grasp and act upon the insights.
  10. Feedback Loops:
    • Establish feedback loops with employees, customers, and stakeholders to continuously refine your innovation discovery process.
    • Encourage regular input and insights from team members who are closest to the challenges and opportunities.
  11. Experiment and Prototype:
    • Once you’ve identified potential innovation topics, experiment with prototypes and pilot projects to test their viability.
    • Gather feedback and iterate on your ideas to refine and improve them.
  12. Decision-Making:
    • Present the discovered innovation topics and insights to decision-makers within your organization.
    • Use data-driven evidence to support your recommendations.
  13. Implementation and Scaling:
    • After gaining approval, implement the selected innovation topics and monitor their progress.
    • Scale successful initiatives and learn from any failures.
  14. Continuous Monitoring and Adaptation:
    • Use AI to continuously monitor market dynamics, customer feedback, and emerging trends.
    • Adapt your innovation strategy in real-time to stay competitive and relevant.
  15. Documentation and Knowledge Sharing:
    • Document the entire innovation discovery process, including data sources, methodologies, and outcomes.
    • Share knowledge and insights across your organization to foster a culture of innovation.

By harnessing the power of AI and data-driven insights, your organization can systematically discover new innovation topics, stay ahead of the competition, and drive continuous improvement.

#7 The Moonshot innovation loop

The Moonshot innovation loop is a dynamic process for discovering novel innovation topics and emphasizes the significance of taking short-term actions to attain long-term objectives while continuously iterating on the approach. It involves:

  1. Identifying Ambitious Goals: Start by setting ambitious, long-term innovation goals, often referred to as “moonshots.” These are the transformative and audacious objectives you want to achieve.
  2. Breaking Down into Short-Term Actions: Next, break down these moonshots into smaller, actionable steps that can be taken in the short term. These are the immediate, manageable tasks that contribute to the larger goal.
  3. Iterative Approach: Begin working on these short-term actions without waiting for the complete solution. Implement, test, and learn from your initial efforts. This iterative process allows you to adapt and refine your approach as you gather feedback and insights.
  4. Continuous Learning: Continuously gather data and insights from your short-term actions. Understand what works and what doesn’t. This knowledge fuels further innovation and adjustments to your strategy.
  5. Adapt and Scale: Based on the learning from your short-term actions, adapt your approach and scale up efforts that show promise. This flexibility enables you to pivot or double down on what is most effective.

Importance of the Moonshot Innovation Loop:

  • Fosters Agility: By focusing on short-term actions, organizations become more agile and responsive to changing market conditions and opportunities.
  • Reduces Risk: Incremental progress and continuous learning reduce the risk of investing heavily in ideas that may not work out in the long run.
  • Drives Innovation: The iterative nature of this loop encourages a culture of innovation, where experimentation and adaptation are valued.
  • Long-Term Vision: It keeps the long-term vision alive while ensuring progress is made in the short term.

In summary, the Moonshot innovation loop is a strategic approach that allows organizations to dream big, take immediate action, learn from their efforts, and adjust course as needed to make substantial progress towards their ambitious goals. It’s a dynamic process that balances the pursuit of long-term vision with the need for short-term results.

Ready to uncover your organization’s next opportunities?

Remember, innovation is not a one-time endeavor, but an ongoing journey. Embrace it as a fundamental part of your organization’s DNA. Innovation topics are the lifeblood of organizational growth and adaptation in a rapidly changing world. They drive creativity, problem-solving, and progress.

The key lies in recognizing that innovation topics can be found in both the familiar and the unexpected places. By actively seeking and embracing various sources, organizations can stay at the forefront of innovation, adapt to changing circumstances, and thrive in a dynamic business landscape. In this pursuit, the process of discovering innovation topics becomes not just a task but a strategic imperative for long-term success and competitiveness.

The time to innovate is now — will your organization rise to the challenge?