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Mindjet’s 12 Days of Innovation: 11 Terms to Know

Happy holidays, innovation enthusiasts, and welcome to Mindjet’s 12 Days of Innovation! This 2014 spotlight series features hand-picked resources, upcoming events, webcasts, thought leadership pieces, and more to give you an inspirational boost for the coming year. Enjoy!


On the eleventh day of innovation, we’d like to share with you: 11 inno-terms worth knowing — not just their standard definitions, but how they apply specifically to your innovation efforts.

1. Crowdsourcing

What it means: Getting input, services, or ideas from a large group of people (usually via an internet-based platform).

Why it matters to your innovation program: Opening up the innovation process to “the crowd” — an entire workforce, or even customers and partners — from ideation to completion is an incredible way to not only solicit solutions you may not have otherwise discovered, but is great for validating solid ideas and sifting through those that aren’t really viable.

2. Gamification

What it means: Taking elements of game playing — like scoring, incentives, leveling up, and competition — and applying it to other environments or situations.

Why it matters to your innovation program: People like games, especially ones in which they’re rewarded for their participation. Gamification in your innovation program increases individual motivation, collaboration, and drive amongst contributors, ensuring that they have a reason to keep ideating.

3. Engagement

What it is: Keeping people interested in whatever projects or initiatives you’re asking them to be a part of.

Why it matters to your innovation program: While there are many ways to improve (or crush) engagement that are dependent on how an organization is run and what it’s trying to accomplish, the bottom line is that any innovation program is utterly dependent on it to be successful. The obvious tactics — like monetary rewards and recognition — often work well and are important to try, but they aren’t the only things that get results. Ask your crowd for input on what would keep them coming back, and go from there.

4. Innovation Management

What it is: The strategic management and mechanization of innovation processes, usually bolstered by a scalable platform or set of common tools.

Why it matters to your innovation program: By far one of the most important things to establish, repeatable processes with measurable checkpoints are the lifeblood of any well-executed initiative. Innovation shouldn’t be any different.

5. Company Culture

What it is: The way employees and decision-makers behave in an organization and how that behavior is interpreted — this includes vision, values, expectations, processes, messaging and terminology, beliefs, etc.

Why it matters to your innovation program: The culture in a given company can only be dictated to a certain point; much of it evolves as the organization grows, management roles adjust, products are developed, and new ideas are introduced. That said, it’s critical that the overall culture remain strong and positive even as it matures, because happy employees care how the company fares, and are far more likely to actively participate in projects that help the organization be successful.

6. Idea Graduation

What it is: The process of how and why a suggested idea moves up the innovation pipeline and towards implementation.

Why it matters to your innovation program: To work properly, innovation programs must be systematic; it would be a nightmare (not to mention impossible) to sift through every idea ever proposed by employees, customers, and partners with no process in place. How would you know if an idea was supported, how much it might cost, or how many people had suggested something similar if you were handed nothing but a giant pile of ideas? Idea graduation, particularly when automated through a platform, keeps suggestions organized and visible, allowing leaders to analyze their potential, setbacks, and other key elements to determine if they’re worth pursuing.

7. Crowd Science

What it is: A sub-niche of data science that’s at the intersection of analytics and psychology, but that employs traditional techniques like data mining, algorithm development, and statistical modeling to crowd behaviors.

Why it matters to your innovation program: Systematic processes are repeatable, scalable, and much easier to analyze than those that are not. Similarly, ideas born from standardized programs are simpler to surface, assess, mold, and implement. In a nutshell, a scientific or mathematical approach to innovation means you’ll be able to keep doing it, and in today’s “innovate or die” environment, repeatability is king.

8. Challenge

What it is: A problem posed by company leaders to the crowd, with a request to offer solutions.

Why it matters to your innovation program: Really, the only way to surface the best solutions to a sticky problem is to cast a wider net for input — but of course, you have to ask for it in the first place! This kind of transparency shows employees that you value their experience and perspectives, which is itself an excellent motivator.

9. Intrapreneur

What it is: An internal innovation advocate, usually someone who champions programs and acts as a liaison between different teams (or management and employees).

Why it matters to your innovation program: Intrapreneurs bring enthusiasm to projects and inspire their peers to get involved. The more support your innovation program has from employees, the more suggestions will be fed into it, vastly increasing chances for great ideas to become reality.

10. Pairwise Voting

What it is: An mathematically-driven type of voting that removes bias that can occur as a result of manipulation or timing.

Why it matters to your innovation program: Ideas will move up the innovation pipeline because they deserve to, not simply because they were suggested first — and thus have had more time to earn support — or because the ideator holds a higher hierarchal position in the company.

11. Failure

What it is: Not being successful in an attempt to do something new or different.

Why it matters to your innovation program: Failure happens. Not all ideas are appropriate, affordable, timely, or original, and that’s a reality that all innovators must accept. More importantly, though, failure matters because the threat of it is so often the reason great ideas never come to light in the first place. If you build your innovation program around the notion that failure is an unacceptable or even punishable outcome, you’ll scare away participants before you’ve even launched, and will inevitably miss out on potentially game-changing ideas. However, if you build failure into that program as an expectation, something that can act as a foundation for improvement and collaboration, you take away the stigma, promote creativity, and open your company up to the possibility of unforeseen success.