How Quirky employ live crowdsourcing to rate ideas.

With online innovation management systems, ideas can be shared and rated with the click of a mouse. It’s inclusive, universal, and highly demographic in that it removes barriers to innovation in terms of geographical location.

However, it can also lose that personal touch, where the idea becomes disembodied from the person behind it.

Again, no bad thing in some cases, but perhaps the result is that innovation managers are missing a trick.

A Quirky Solution
It’s an issue that NYC product development company Quirky have addressed with weekly product evaluation meetings (Live E-vals) where anyone can attend to hear about the top ideas submitted to this invention website. Physical attendees are joined by an online community who view the proceedings via web cams. Those present vote with a good old-fashioned show of hands for the best ideas, and the top ones are moved on to the next level of technical development by Quirky.

It’s simple, straightforward, and focusses everyone’s minds on specific ideas. Of course, the company must have already sifted through hundreds of ideas submitted to choose the ones to be presented that week, and how they do that is not explained. However, the meeting gives a personal aspect to the voting, and with inventors given the opportunity to present however they wish, it’s a Dragon’s Den with the fire but not the acidic bite.

WIIFM?
As innovation managers, it might be tempting for us to rely on an online community as it is both robust and straightforward to manage. Yet experience shows us that when people get together, connections can be made that simply wouldn’t have occurred online, and that’s a valuable element of sustainable innovation.

So, if you feel your innovation management system needs energising, why not announce a E-val meeting, put out some chairs, rig a web camera or two, lay on some drinks, and see what happens…