How to Host a Successful Hackathon

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 2:39 PM, May 04, 2015


All forward-thinking companies are focused on innovation – but successful innovation isn’t something that just happens. It’s pursued, intentionally, with great focus, by the right people making the right decisions based on any number of variables along the way.

Those “right people” include both internal and external stakeholders whose subject matter expertise and creative vision allows them to harness the brainpower of everyone else around them – keeping lines of communication open so all can participate, while wrangling idea management for maximum efficiency.

If an overall culture of innovation isn’t something your company has been focused on in the past, one of the best ways to debut your innovation program and get others quickly on board is by hosting a hackathon – a marathon brainstorming event where teams of participants work together to solve company challenges.

But it’s not something you can just throw together. There are a lot of moving parts to deal with – especially if this is your first hackathon. To make it easier Brightidea has compiled a list to make your hackathon a success.

The Planning Stages

Brightidea has found that a minimum of 30 days is needed to get your hackathon planned successfully. First, the basics:

  • Goal – Before you can do anything, you need to know what you hope to accomplish with your hackathon. It should be in line with the company’s overall goals.
  • Time - Choose a date that doesn’t conflict with other company events, so anyone who wants to be involved can be. Saturdays are best for single-day hackathons, and Fridays are ideal for overnight events.
  • Location - An outside venue makes the event feel special (crucial to lighting those creative fires), versus just another day at the office. Look for included WiFi, audio and video equipment -- plus set-up and test before your event.
  • Budget – Sponsors are always a cost-saving solution. Approach whomever could benefit from whatever you’re hacking, from in-house departments to outside sources with a vested interest in your project.
  • Decide if Your Hackathon is Internal or External – Internal hackathons (those open to employees only) are more common and easier to manage for first-timers. However, these guidelines apply to both, except where otherwise specified. If you decide to include external communities, Brightidea has partnered with IdeaConnection and can help you get access to an external community quickly.

Once you have the basics nailed down, you can start getting into the real fun:

Specialists - When hosting an internal hackathon, consider bringing in “specialists” – outside parties with knowledge in your space – to offer a fresh point of view to motivate participants in the role of speakers, team mentors or judges. Enlist the aid of your HR department or leverage C-level connections to find them. Be sure to have outside specialists sign a nondisclosure agreement to protect your innovations.

Promotion – You want everyone excited to attend and participate in your hackathon, and it’s even better if you can get them to start participating BEFORE the event. Here’s how:

  • Webstorm– Part of the Brightidea Innovation platform, a Webstorm is a place for people to submit their project ideas and sign up for teams; it also functions as an event homepage, with all hackathon details easily accessible. With an external hackathon you can include the Webstorm link on your Eventbrite page.
  • Social Media – With an external hackathon you’ll also want to use social media to spread the word (an area-specific “Subreddit” on Reddit, for example), along with reaching out to local developer groups for additional networking help.

Tech Concerns – If your hackathon is centered around coding, connect with someone internally who can ensure that languages and frameworks will be compatible with those your company is using, for easy inclusion down the road. Tip: is a great central location for hackers to commit code.

Judging – Only the best ideas should move through to implementation, so you want to have a plan in place for how ideas will be assessed and share it with participants. Appoint three to five judges – and a few standbys – to be available at least 30 minutes prior to judging on the day of the hackathon.

Prizes – Talk these up to the top teams to get everyone in the competitive spirit. Whether you’re giving away gadgets (like iPads), cash, or the opportunity to run the next phase of the winning challenge, you want participants to be hungry to win.

Thank-you Cards – Write out thank-you cards in advance to hand to your judges, specialists, and any other special guests as they leave. Kudos and prestige may be all they’re getting for their participation, so you definitely don’t want to forget to give them their due!

Following Up

Because you can never say thank you too much, send out an email to everyone who participated and thank them again for their attendance.

Hold a postmortem to assess whether you achieved your goals and what needs to happen next. Make note of anything that went particularly well, anything that didn’t, and figure out what you’ll do differently next time. Then start planning your next hackathon!

Brightidea recommends semiannual hackathons for a healthy innovation culture employees can stay engaged with. Each time it will be easier, more productive and your ROI will be more impactful.

When you’re ready to put it all together, our hackathon platform and revolutionary hackathon app can streamline your hackathon. Contact us and we can share the best way to get started for you and your company.

Providing Clients with Expert Innovation Communities

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 2:48 PM, April 28, 2015


Brightidea and IdeaConnection have a new partnership that offers open innovation services and a way for companies to build their own branded, expert, open innovation communities.

In the press release Brightidea CEO, Matt Greeley shares, “IdeaConnection has an outstanding record of building innovative communities and solving complex challenges. Now we can offer Open Innovation community building as a white-label service for those who would rather build their own proprietary innovation community under their own brands.”

This partnership complements many clients’ innovation initiatives. It also brings us all one step closer to realizing the future of ideas as expressed in Brightidea’s the Innovation Grid.

IdeaConnection’s extensive network-of-networks goes well beyond Google search and offers clients access to vast external expert communities, emerging technologies, the world’s great minds and valuable technical and intellectual property expertise. Combining that with Brightidea’s suite of products that facilitate the gathering and development of people-powered ideas creates a one-stop solution the enterprise has been searching for.

The future is even brighter.

Learn more about IdeaConnection and our partnership here.

These Innovation Program Successes Can Be Yours

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 8:37 AM, April 23, 2015


Brightidea has helped enable powerful companies to distinguish themselves from competitors within their respective industries. Brightidea customers shared their unique success stories using Brightidea’s innovation program software in a series of case studies. These include Adobe, BT, Cisco, CLP, GE, Mentor Graphics and Prodigy. Some highlights from the thriving innovation programs are outlined below:

BT Group is a world reknowned provider in communications solutions, with over 100,000 employees stretching across 170 countries. In the past, they’ve had trouble communicating amongst their diverse and scattered group of employees, which is why they decided to implement Brightidea’s innovation program software. They used the software to create a Rewards Shop, awarding employees whose ideas were implemented with 10% of the idea’s bottom line benefits of the first year performance. By providing an incentive of this scale across a massive organization, it drew in over 10,000 creative new ideas.

John Nevins, Head of Innovation Consulting at BT, said:
The greatest asset BT has is its people. Our role is to provide a mechanism for BT people to express their ingenuity, and the New Ideas Scheme has been instrumental to achieving that goal.

The crowdsourcing project ultimately resulted in cost savings and new revenue generated in excess of over $100 million. Read further into this case study here.

Cisco is a worldwide networking and communications technology provider who is committed to serving global key markets, especially Europe, with their innovative initiatives. To greater highlight the importance of the European region, Cisco decided to utilize Brightidea software to create an innovation program to effectively crowdsource and harness their employee’s creativity.

The leader of Cisco innovation strategy for Europe, Matt Asman, said:
There was this perception in the company that innovation was all about R&D or New Product Development, and I really believed we as a company needed to expand our thinking beyond innovation being all about R&D.

Their program, coined i-Zone, drew in some impressive results. 400+ ideas were submitted by over 5,000 users, along with 5,000+ comments and votes on these ideas. These resulted in 10+ ideas being put under development, one of which has a multi-million dollar revenue potential. Download and read this case study here.

GE was ranked the world’s second largest business by Forbes, with revenues of $157 billion. Utilizing Brightidea, GE launched Ecoimagination, a corporate initiative to develop new power grid technologies in a market estimated to hit $200 billion over the next decade. GE was able to crowdsource ideas from all over the world, rewarding the top five entrepreneurial ideas with $100,000 and the potential to partner with GE or its VC partners. With this criteria laid out, Ecomagination became the largest-ever open innovation challenge the world has seen. Mind-blowing statistics showed 70,000 participants from all over the world, submitting 3,800+ ideas, writing 81,000+ comments and inputting 120,000+ votes on ideas.

Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman of GE, said:
We think this opportunity as a big company to work with small companies is only going to help us grow faster.

The Brightidea innovation program challenge did just that, and concluded with 12 projects being funded with $55 million dollars. Learn more about this case study here.

As you can see, Brightidea customers have been largely successful in their new innovation program journeys as these stories share. If you’d like to view more success stories from customers using Brightidea’s premier, results driving software, please visit Feel free to leave comments below and give us your feedback!

Idea Management: 5 Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Posted by Steve Bell at 11:06 AM, April 20, 2015


Having worked with some of the world’s most innovative companies over the past 15 years, Brightidea has seen where idea management can come up short.

The ability to crowdsource ideas from your employees, customers, and others can be a powerful tool to stimulate innovation – if done right. But too often, companies fail to achieve the promise of collaborative innovation. To help you beat those odds, here are 5 common mistakes that typically plague idea management processes – and how you can avoid them:

1. Going It Alone
One of the biggest mistakes occurs when an innovation team kicks off their program without the appropriate buy-in and sponsorship. This typically dooms your program to failure from the outset. Why? Because without top-down executive endorsement that ties the program to corporate objectives and a strong voice within the business excited to take action on the best ideas, the program will quickly lose momentum and only deliver a database of aging ideas. Employees won’t value it as part of their day job and participation will be poor.

Remedy: You need both strong executive sponsorship and strong business unit sponsorship to build and maintain excitement around the innovation program, the targeted innovation topics and the idea management process. This will set the program up for success from the beginning and ensure ongoing, inspired employee participation.

2. Focusing on the Front End
Many companies start off their collaborative innovation program thinking only about the “idea gathering” phase of idea management, and fail to consider the complete “end-to-end” process. They make a big marketing push to get their employees to submit ideas, which they do, and end up with a pile of ideas and no way to evaluate them – and worse yet, no one to take action on the ideas. As a result, the employees aren’t given any feedback on their ideas and lose interest.

Remedy: Treat idea management as an end-to-end process. Initial engagement isn’t everything, and if it’s your entire focus, your program will fail. You need a systematic process for guiding effort on targeted topics, vetting ideas and selecting the best ones for implementation to achieve a financial return. Without implementation, there is no innovation.

3. Using General Purpose Platforms
Companies often attempt to “shoehorn” a general-purpose technology like SharePoint into an idea management solution. We know this because we’re commonly asked to replace these systems. Companies choose this ill-advised route for many reasons: Perhaps the IT department mandates it or maybe it’s a cost-effective way to start since IT already has invested in it. But it is inevitably a bad decision, because these tools aren’t designed to facilitate an idea management process. They work as “idea gathering portals,” but lack capabilities to move ideas through an evaluation and shortlisting process. So, much like focusing on the engagement part of the process mentioned above, you end up with a pile of ideas that disappear into a black hole never to be seen again. And companies often neglect to consider the internal cost of IT resources involved to stand up and operate a general-purpose platform.

Remedy: Don’t use general-purpose tools for something as specialized and important as idea management. You need a purpose-built innovation platform, like Brightidea. Just as you wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) use SharePoint as your CRM to manage sales or a homegrown system to manage your financials, using general-purpose tools to manage something as mission-critical to your company as innovation does little beyond waste your time.

4. Being Blinded by Science
Some companies would have you believe that their ‘marvelous discoveries’ in crowd science and algorithms practically make people obsolete in terms of idea management. While they keep data scientists gainfully employed, the practical reality is that after many years of pitching their theories, there is no practical evidence that this science offers any tangible benefit to the idea management process.

Remedy: Don’t believe the hype. Nothing replaces the insight and expertise of your people to make idea management decisions. Focus on technology that supports this people-driven process – tools that effectively engage key stakeholders in key activities across the entire process, from your innovation team, your employee innovators, as well as subject matter experts, and business sponsors.

The premise of Brightidea’s “People-Powered Methodology” is that Man + Machine is more powerful than technology or people alone. Our software and approach are designed to help companies take advantage of the full creative capacity of their people through crowd-driven technology and data-driven insight to create a scalable core-competency and drive cultural transformation.

5. Not Measuring Results
Innovation teams have limited time to demonstrate tangible results from their program. Innovation teams lacking tangible data and visible evidence of implemented ideas to demonstrate program value/results run the risk of losing funding and having their innovation program shut down.

Remedy: Tracking and measuring tangible outcomes is the most important aspect of the idea management process. Success is just a story until there is hard data to back it up. At Brightidea we measure multiple types of success to ensure a holistic view. We make your results data readily accessible via numerous metrics, so investment in your Innovation Program is easy for management to justify.

Effective idea management is key to getting collaborative innovation right. Without a system in place, you’ll fail. Not all systems are created equal though – be SURE to select one that helps harness the people-powered ideas in your organization and manage them through to implemented projects with tangible financial outcomes. Reach out and we’ll tell you more about why this is critical and how fast you can have your own system in place!

Please share your comments below and check out Brightidea’s paper Taking Ideas to Reality: Defining the Next Steps in Your Innovation Program.

Mastering Innovation In the Enterprise: Successful (And Unsuccessful) Innovation Program Teams

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 8:05 AM, April 14, 2015


All forward-thinking companies are focused on innovation – at least in theory. In practice, many companies may think they’re working on innovation, when all they’re actually doing is circling the drain. Because innovation appears to be such a mystical process, companies lose sight of any process – waiting and hoping for a lucky break, without any real strategy. Which is exactly why they fail.

Successful innovation isn’t something that just happens. It’s pursued, intentionally, with great focus, by the right people making the right decisions based on any number of variables along the way. And this is exactly what this series of posts will be addressing - and helping you work through.

Characteristics Of A Successful Innovation Team

What’s sometimes misunderstood about innovation teams is they’re not there to do all the work to the exclusion of everyone else. They’re more like facilitators, bringing other departments together to create new products and services with their guidance.

And this means they need to possess a variety of skills to be effective.

A strong leader is a must. You want someone with a broad range of experience, who can “sell” the program and specific challenges internally (which isn’t always easy); a self-starter able to navigate various personalities. But the rest of the team needs to be just as strong.

Renegade personality. Innovation is a weird squishy thing – it’s not a textbook industry like finance or accounting. Innovation people have to be renegades, able to blaze their own path by being creative, scrappy, and aggressive, yet diplomatic.

Along with these ideal personalities are four roles to fill for a killer innovation team:

  • Doers – who take direction and run with whatever they’re asked to do
  • Challengers – who play devil’s advocate and look for the flaws others miss
  • Helpers – who manage social interactions and relationships
  • Creators – who offer ideas with abandon; it’s others’ jobs to assess and vet their potential

With these folks filling out your innovation team, you’ll be set up well for sourcing successful challenges.

Six Personality Traits To Watch Out For

Just as important as traits that make an innovation team successful, are those that will make an innovation team unsuccessful. Watch out for these types when you’re building your team:

  • Egomaniac – It’s hard to convince someone who’s “always right” that changes need to be made, and change management is a huge part of the job.
  • Easily Intimidated – These are followers, and you need leaders.
  • Always Overwhelmed – They’ll need a lot of hand-holding and you will not have time for that. Self-efficient folks only, please.
  • Untrusting – They need to be able to build trust and that’s not possible if they aren’t trusting themselves. And it will also hold them back when it comes to taking risks.
  • Uninterested – You can’t make them care and shouldn’t bother trying. If innovation doesn’t excite them, they do not belong on your lean mean innovation team.
  • Narcissist – They don’t know or care about anything outside of themselves and this will be no different. Weed them out by asking about their current team and speaking to team success.

Sorting out WHO will be on your team isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth the wait to find the right people. Once you find them, you’re guaranteed some measure of success, right? Well, we’re not there yet.

Beyond team make-up, you must have the following criteria in mind (in tandem) or you’ll be dooming your rockstar team to failure:

Full-time commitment. Not every person on the (dedicated) team must be a full-time member, but if everyone on the team can only devote a fraction of their time to innovation efforts, you’ll never gain traction, so at least one person should be full-time and dedicated to innovation, if at all possible.

Executive sponsorship. There needs to be at least one executive sponsor – someone working at a level above your leader, devoting partial time to your overarching innovation efforts.

Connection with C-level.At least one member (preferably more) of your innovation team needs to be well connected to company leaders. They should be very familiar with the company’s mission, strategy, political workings and how to leverage people and processes within the organization to get results. Someone six levels down from the C-suite won’t have that capacity and support will be diluted.

So where do you pull these internal folks from? All levels of your organization, particularly those “high potential” folks consistently working beyond their pay grade and seeking ways to expand their role and their skillset. You know who I’m talking about – finally a way to constructively use those yearly reviews!

Watch for our next post coming Thursday on specific criteria to evaluate existing innovation programs. And reach out with questions about creating an innovation team that will revolutionize your organization!

In the meantime, check out what innovation program leaders from General Electric, PwC and SAP share in our recent recorded Google Hangout Innovation Programs: The Predictors of Success.

Hangout with Nielsen and Thomson Reuters to Find Challenges and Deliver Outcomes

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 2:06 PM, April 10, 2015


Once you successfully ramp up your innovation program, the next step is to identify specific challenges that will propel your organization on the road to success. As Brightidea’s VP of Marketing, I “hung out” yesterday with with top innovation experts from Nielson and Thomas Reuters in our Google Hangout entitled How to Find Challenges & Deliver Outcomes. This Google Hangout is the 4th in our Innovation Insights Webinar/Hangout Series. Our panelist of innovation experts included:

  • Stephanie Hegarty: Innovation Program Manager at Nielsen
  • Jen McClure: Vice President, Digital & Social Media at Thomson Reuters
  • Ann Marie Dumais: Strategic Client Advisor at Brightidea

Whether you’re thinking of starting an innovation program of your own, or just looking to improve an existing one, these best practices on creating successful challenges provided by these experts will lead you in the right direction. The highlights from this exclusive Brightidea Hangout How to Find Challenges and Deliver Outcomes are summarized below:

Ann Marie spoke on identifying challenges initially, “Not everyone is going to want to admit they have a challenge in the organization…once you get a program up and going, the demand increases quite dramatically.” Each panelist agreed that after driving an impact with one team in an organization, the momentum grows until every employee begins to buy into the strategy of crowdsourcing techniques. Team-based challenges can also assist the popularity and contribution of innovation programs within an organization drastically.

To find challenges, you have to have a highly networked company, not just within your particular area. You must know the broad focus of your CEO, and be in tune with the strategic goals of your organization. Ann Marie spoke on finding challenges, “They’re not so hard to find…you have to look tactically who has the most vested interest to make that happen…a system like Brightidea enables innovation to happen faster in a way that they couldn’t possibly know (unless they used it).”

Having a strong sponsor is a key asset to innovative organizations who want to pursue change. This person should be some sort of senior in the company who has a powerful say in decisions and will be able to get multiple teams onboard. Stephanie mentioned, ”if you have that sponsor, it’s easy to find a strong challenge manager because they know that it’s supported from their leadership which makes them willing to put in the time.” With sponsorship however, you must ensure that you have the budget to take action and execute the core purpose of your innovation efforts.

Social media has had a big impact on forcing the big shift in large corporation’s focus on the customer experience. They’ve begun to realize that they must put the customer at the center of the business and interact with them to succeed in this space. In relation to monitoring social media, Jen mentioned that, “you have to listen to these ideas both internally and externally because innovation can happen in very unexpected places.”

Innovation programs have an immense impact on the interconnectivity of teams within organizations, which has opened a variety of new doors. Stephanie, who uses Brightidea software at Nielsen, spoke of the incredibly effective ability to prioritize challenges within the organization’s innovation program software, quickly connecting teams through the tool. The benefits enable quick and efficient communication through the interface, eliminating previously difficult, siloed divisions of a company by bringing them together to better serve their clients.

As an innovator, you must have a way to take advantage of internal and external employees to make them feel involved. The panel shared that as a mobile worker, you may not feel as involved in the company’s innovation, so techniques mentioned such as live cams, 12 hour challenge windows, comments, and better enable interactions. Jen, who is a social expert at Thomson Reuters, commented on innovation challenges, “by having everything happen in one place, it’s very easy for people to engage.” She gave an intriguing example of a Thomas Reuter’s innovation event that took place in Switzerland, but engaged employees worldwide.

As you can tell, having an innovation program to identify and tackle challenges is becoming an essential tool in powerful companies all over the globe. Fostering a hub for this interconnectivity has allowed for organizational teams to achieve outcomes quicker than they could ever have imagined. If you’d like to hear more from the experts, please view this Google Hangout here. Feel free to share your Challenge ideas and suggestions in the comments section below.

Innovation, the New Competitive Equation

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 12:39 PM, April 10, 2015


Brightidea partnered with BPI in creating a highly informative innovation study, Innovation - The New Competitive Equation, which examines innovation strategies and roadblocks in today’s society. The study is full of statistical analysis, case studies, and best practices from top innovation executives. Brightidea’s powerful customers Dell, Nielson, and Cisco were highlighted in the study as well, with strong statistics proving their thriving innovation programs using Brightidea.

How could you better encourage innovation in your organization? This was one question in the study. Companies ponder this every day when attempting to ramp up a successful program. The results in the study reflected that companies are at varied stages of their innovation journey. In fact, 44% answered that they need to create a formalized process for evaluating and rewarding innovation up and down the organization. And 40% recommended to fast-track a structured program of “intrapreneurship” for top innovation talents on the team.

Crowdsourcing within innovation programs has become a popular tactic, expanding creativity outside of just one designated team of thinkers. In the study, to determine if this tactic is widely effective, customers were asked how do you rate the effectiveness of crowd-sourced innovation programs? See the results below. The use of innovation platforms is growing yet the ability to measure outcomes and success is a challenge.


Take a look at this study Innovation - The New Competitive Equation and review the current results for yourself, comparing them to your own innovative efforts. Brightidea provides the world’s leading innovation program software, please contact us if you’d like to accelerate your own program!

Please feel free to leave comments below.

GE, PwC and SAP Share the Predictors of Success for Your Innovation Program

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 10:44 AM, April 07, 2015


Innovation isn’t something you master overnight. To help accelerate your innovation program success, Brightidea asked marquis innovation program experts from GE, PwC and SAP to share best practices for innovation program leaders to replicate and utilize within their own organizations. Our panelists from these world renowned innovation powerhouses were:

Dyan Finkhousen: Director, Open Innovation & Advanced Manufacturing at GE

John Sviokla: Strategy & Innovation Leader, Head of Global Thought Leadership at PwC

Kuhan Milroy: Senior Director of Social Business Innovation at SAP

What’s a better way to learn innovation than to hear it directly from the experts? The highlights shared by our knowledgeable panel on Brightidea’s Innovation Program: The Predictors of Success webinar hangout are included below. Though these companies have all ultimately found success through their innovation programs, each has had its own unique experiences along the way. Highlights:

Kuhan of SAP shared that when ramping up his innovation program, he focused on first “partnering up with the folks who say ‘you had me at hello’ because “they’re the easiest to bring on as early adopters.”

Along with the initial thrill of ramping up an innovation program, each panelist mentioned strongly the idea of failure and what implications it has within a growing, innovative company. Businesses must define expectations for failure and not dwell on it, utilizing it as a positive move forward. Dyan of GE commented on this saying, “The appetite or comfort with failing and learning lessons needs to be there for innovation to really prosper in an organization.”

The panelists discussed the importance of culture, organization and process in relation to their individual innovation programs. Check out the Hangout to hear each panelists answer.

There was a good discussion on the size of an innovation team and who should be included on the team. John of PwC provided great insight on this question stating two things to consider: be careful who you put in the position to say “no”, and carefully analyze what is your actual task at hand. In relation to these considerations, he provided strong comparisons to Thomas Edison’s light bulb innovation team, Elon Musk’s team with SpaceX, and GE’s team with new compulsion systems.

It was also great to hear Kuhan’s perspective on the hottest key ingredients to innovation programs, crowdsourcing and hackathons. Kuhan emphasized how important these two tactics are to SAP, as well as having a strong innovation program software. He said, “I wasted 80% of my time on our old platform, but now we’re in Brightidea which is amazing. When you’re starting out don’t try to do it by yourself.”

Overall, this Google Hangout taught some valuable lessons on innovation programs: you need an organization, culture, and process all working in unison, a dedicated innovation program leader, to make sure your program is showing value, and to ultimately figure out how you’re working across departments.

If you haven’t seen the Google Hangout, you can view this and our next one How to Find Challenges and Deliver Outcomes. Please share your best innovation program tips in the comments below.

How To Make Better Innovation Choices In Q2

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 3:22 PM, April 02, 2015


The first quarter of 2015 is over and you might be feeling a befuddled as your innovation efforts aren’t taking off as you’d planned. 

Fear not, this series of thought leadership articles will help you reframe the discussion at your organization. We’ve shared a few introductory posts to help organize your thinking, and then focus on specifics that will breathe new life into your efforts. The topics share the best articles (as voted by Brightidea in Q1 2015) on best practices and emerging trends from innovation leaders and Fortune 500 firms.

Keep a notebook (or a mobile device) handy as you read, and when you’re finished reading, be sure to reach out with your questions.


1. 5 Ways to get Ready for Innovation in 2015: If you aren’t ready for innovation, consider this post your orientation to what awaits. The steps listed will help you focus your efforts, channel all that creative energy and feel sure of yourself as you set off on your own innovation path!

2. IBM Institute for Business Value: More than Magic: How do the most successful organizations innovate? IBM surveyed more than 1,000 C-suite executives from across the world to gather specific practices and find out where they think innovation is headed. If this doesn’t get kick your planning process into overdrive, nothing will!

3. 5 Ways Managers Stifle Innovation: Many companies today are unknowingly stifling innovative thinking, and that needs to change - fast. Do any of these five behaviors listed sound familiar? If so, the tips at the end around unlocking innovation will be VERY helpful.

4. Chief Innovation Officers Need Friends in High Places: Even innovation leaders at high-power organizations like Hyatt Hotels, Nestle, Purina Petcare, and Merck & Co. face challenges when it comes to change management and creating a culture of innovation. This piece shares insight from expert innovation executives who have successfully overcome internal and external struggles at top corporations – and the importance of executive support.

5. The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 in Media: This list of innovative media outlets is one any publisher would be proud to be on, but only ten made the cut. These sites are very different from each other, but all foster interactive communication and are killing it online. Check out this who’s who and what they’ve done to inspire your own efforts going forward.

6. The Benefits of Open Innovation: The term “open innovation” was coined by Henry Chesbrough and “refers to the collaboration between companies, individuals and public agencies to create innovative products and services and, in the process, share its risks and rewards.” And this article shares real-life situations where this ideology has been put to the test and succeeded. Is ‘open innovation’ where our efforts are headed? Should it be, in the spirit of creating a better place to live?

7. How Smart Entrepreneurs Make Innovation Look Easy: Does being an expert innovator require a certain genetic makeup, or can anyone be an Elon Musk? This article shares concepts explored in a new book, “The 4 Lenses of Innovation,” by Rowan Gibson. Gibson shares traits of true innovators and ways to unlock yours via connecting powerful digital tools, a structured process, and some best innovation practices (shared in the piece).

8. 2015: The Year the Cloud Bursts: From smart homes and digital health to merely understanding what saving data ‘in the cloud’ means, 2015 is predicted to be a revolutionary year where advanced technology becomes more accessible to the average person - and indispensible for the rest of us. Where do you fall in this continuum?

9. Re-Framing Innovation in 2015 – How iteration really does transform fear of failure: Fear of failure is one of the biggest hurdles companies face when attempting to encourage innovation. Overcoming it requires a true commitment to risk-taking and acceptance when mistakes are made – and adopting an iteration mindset helps. Learn more about how that looks here.

10. The Five Most Disruptive Innovations at CES 2015: Disruptive innovation sounds scary, but offers the potential for some truly groundbreaking partnerships between unrelated companies – and nowhere is that more evident than at this year’s CES. Check out these trends and predictions for where these innovations are headed.

Please share your favorite articles below. And for more insights on innovation, check out our April Google hangouts with Innovation Leaders sharing their best practices.

New Study: Who’s Driving Innovation at the Enterprise?

Posted by Gretchen Hoffman at 12:20 PM, March 31, 2015


Innovation is hard. You not only have to come up with an inspiring idea and get executive buy-in, but also manage the organizational gauntlet to turn that idea into reality. But the payoff is worth it… since you can literally change the world!

Just read any given day’s headlines and you’ll see references to some entrepreneur, startup, or enterprise that’s reinventing the way things are done. As a matter of fact, every company needs to make innovation a priority. That is, if you want to win in the marketplace and survive long-term. Innovation is THAT important.

So who are the people responsible for driving innovation in large organizations? And what conversations, content, and people are informing how they think about the next big thing?

40 Leaders Driving Innovation in the Enterprise

With these questions in mind, Brightidea collaborated with Leadtail, a social insights firm, to create the report: 40 Leaders Driving Innovation in the Enterprise. This report looked at forty innovation program leaders and analyzed their Twitter activity to discover how they use social media to become better at making innovation happen. These executives were chosen since they are active on social media, and on the front lines of innovation for world-class companies such as GE, Deloitte, Coca-Cola, Target, U.S. Bank, and Microsoft.

But why should you care what top innovation program leaders are up to?

Here are a few takeaways from the report:

  • Innovation is happening across industries. The report analyzed innovation leaders in a number of market segments to reflect the fact that innovation is not limited to one corner of the economy. From consumer goods to healthcare to financial services, innovation is changing the future of what we consume and how we do business.
  • Innovation program leaders love innovation, technology, and startups. Whether it’s the top hashtags they use, the people they retweet and mention the most, or the publications they read and share, top innovation leaders use social media to learn more about and stay on top of (no surprise!) innovation.
  • Top innovation leaders are active on social media. These executives are turning to social media to stay on the leading edge of innovation and technology, learn best practices for managing change, participate in conversations with their peers, and become inspired by their favorite entrepreneurs!

Here are some examples of the conversations and content they read and share:

  • Hashtags: #Innovation, #BigData, #IoT, #marketing, #startups
  • Influencers: @richardbranson, @pmarca, @BenedictEvans, @ScottKirsner
  • Publications: Forbes, Harvard Business Review, TechCrunch, Fast Company

Now for the big question – who ARE these people, specifically, and how does each of them engage on social media? You’ll find out by downloading “40 Leaders Driving Innovation in the Enterprise” report including discovering many innovation leaders that (currently) fly under the radar yet have great innovation program insights to share.

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