In an era where the only constant is change, organizations are always in pursuit of the next big idea. Traditional brainstorming sessions and suggestion boxes can only get you so far. So, what’s the next step in harnessing the collective brainpower of your team? Enter the Idea Tournament—a fun, engaging, and highly effective method for identifying and developing groundbreaking ideas. This blog post will introduce you to what an idea tournament is, its numerous benefits, how to conduct one, and much more.

What is an Idea Tournament?

An Idea Tournament is a structured process where multiple ideas compete against each other until the most promising ones are identified. Much like a sports tournament, ideas go through various rounds of evaluation and selection, receiving scores from a diverse panel of judges or the collective feedback from employees or stakeholders.

Benefits of Idea Tournaments

Employee Engagement

Idea tournaments offer a gamified approach to idea generation, significantly increasing employee engagement and participation.

Rapid Filtering

By competing ideas against each other, you quickly filter out less promising concepts, focusing your resources on potentially groundbreaking initiatives.

Collaborative Learning

Employees learn from each other’s ideas and feedback, cultivating a culture of continuous improvement and collective wisdom.

Resource Optimization

You save time and resources by targeting development efforts on the most promising and widely supported ideas.

Who to Involve?

Involve a diverse mix of employees, stakeholders, and even customers if relevant. This ensures a wide range of perspectives and expertise.

Open vs. Closed Idea Tournaments

  • Open Tournaments: Involve external participants like customers or industry experts.
  • Closed Tournaments: Limited to internal participants, maintaining confidentiality.

How to Conduct an Idea Tournament?

  1. Define Objectives: Clearly outline what you aim to achieve.
  2. Assemble Participants: Choose a diverse set of participants.
  3. Submit Ideas: Open the floor for idea submissions.
  4. Initial Screening: Preliminary filtering to weed out infeasible ideas.
  5. Rounds of Review: Ideas go through multiple rounds of evaluation.
  6. Final Presentation: Top ideas are presented and a winner is chosen.
  7. Implementation Plan: Create a roadmap for the winning idea(s).

Examples of Successful Idea Tournaments

  1. Google’s 20% time policy has often been run in a tournament format, resulting in successful projects like Gmail and AdSense.
  2. P&G’s ‘Connect + Develop’ platform often employs tournaments to solve specific R&D challenges.

Rewarding the Winners: Sweetening the Deal

Arguably, one of the most critical aspects of hosting a successful idea tournament is recognizing and rewarding the contributors of winning ideas. This not only boosts morale but also fosters a culture that encourages creativity and risk-taking.

Types of Rewards

  1. Monetary Incentives: Cash prizes or bonuses can be a direct and compelling reward.
  2. Professional Development: Offer courses, workshops, or certificates that can help winners improve their skills.
  3. Visibility and Recognition: Publicize their achievement through internal newsletters, social media, or company events.
  4. Implementation Support: Allocate resources or mentorship programs to help bring the winning idea to fruition.
  5. Exclusive Perks: Think outside the box with rewards like a one-on-one lunch with the CEO, a tour of an interesting company facility, or first dibs on new company merchandise.

Why Rewards Matter

Rewards serve multiple purposes:

  • Motivation: Tangible rewards act as a motivator for people to participate actively.
  • Validation: They validate the time and effort spent on developing the idea.
  • Retention: Effective rewarding can also be an essential tool for employee retention.
  • Reputation: Your organization gains a reputation for valuing and nurturing innovation.

By incorporating a comprehensive and thoughtful rewards program, you’re not just acknowledging the winners; you’re inspiring your entire organization to think innovatively. It sets a precedent that innovation is not just welcomed but celebrated and nurtured, further driving the cultural shift toward sustained innovation.

Learn more about innovation rewards and some examples by reading this blog.


Idea tournaments are not just a trendy concept; they’re a proven methodology to amplify creativity, boost employee engagement, and pinpoint actionable innovations. As the marketplace becomes more competitive, turning ideation into a collaborative competition could be your secret weapon for staying ahead.

Request a demo to learn how the Yambla platform can support your next idea tournament