Common Pitfalls to avoid when launching your Crowd Sourcing Innovation Programme

Over the years I have collaborated with many organisations to launch their Crowd Sourcing Innovation Programmes. Some of these launches have been amazing and truly inspiring. One of my favourites was Li & Fung, who are one of the biggest companies on the planet managing complex supply chains for brands and retailers around the world.

The Kitchen

Li & Fung Innovation Chefs Extraordinaire

They kicked-off their Crowd Sourcing Innovation Programme, which they called The Kitchen, by literally inviting their employees into kitchens they setup across their company. Through this great branding concept they introduced their employees to their Crowd Sourcing Innovation Programme, to get them excited and engaged to meet the new challenges ahead of them. They held presentations from Senior Executives and the Innovation Team, as well as fun foods, drinks and even cooking demonstrations to really entertain and engage their staff in something that was both important, interesting and fun for the future success of the company


Pitfalls can really land you on your ass if you don’t look out for them

Of course not everyone does it the same way and budgets can also limit ambition. But budgets should not limit creativity and definitely not success. Saying that, being successful also means that you learn how not to do things.

I am happy to say I have experienced many pitfalls along the way. Sometimes through a lack of experience and other times through being too ambitious. Thankfully, and like most people, I have learned from those experiences. So I wanted to share a few that might be helpful if you are starting out on your Crowd Sourcing Innovation Programme.

So here is my list of 10 things to watch out for to help you strategise your launch and importantly keep you upright and on the path to success without having to learn a few of those lessons I have experienced along the way.

  1. Running Before Crawling – Selecting an overly ambitious Innovation Launch Challenge i.e. that is either hard to explain, difficult to answer, does not engage the target crowd well, takes considerable time to develop the winning ideas, has a high-level of risk that nothing with be developed/taken to market
  2. No Strategic Alignment – Launching without a Business Sponsor who will own and immediately drive the outcomes (the ideas selected) from the Launch Innovation Challenge
  3. Poor Governance & Understanding of your Crowd – Delaying or skipping the addition of user attribute data (through capture or integration) that would help the communication planing and management to more intelligently map, understand and develop an Innovation Culture from launch
  4. Weak Communications – Designing an unengaging and basic Communication Plan that relies heavily on email as the main channel of communication
  5. Basic Rewards Scheme – Building a simple and cheap rewards scheme that does not inspire or help drive engagement
  6. Absence of Human Catalysts – Lack of support to help drive the process from engaged Moderators and Experts to develop the crowd content
  7. Delayed Second Challenge Launch – Launching without a Pipeline of Innovation Challenges to maintain Programme Momentum and develop Crowd Engagement and Diversity
  8. No Programme Communication Updates – Communication planning that focuses purely on the Innovation Challenge process and lacks a programmatic component to celebrate key milestones and report progress of the Innovation Challenge/s outcomes (the ideas selected)
  9. Poor Key Stakeholder Management – Basic/non-existent engagement and on-boarding of key stakeholders required for the programme to succeed including, Leadership, Middle Management and importantly Unions
  10. Delayed Tracking of ROI & other KPIs – Over focus and reliance in the early programme stages towards engagement metrics vs. business outcomes (such as ROI) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Typically leads to difficulties in future funding, programme team leadership transitions and programme expansion without reliable and referanceable data.

Anyway I hope you find some of these signposts will help you avoid the pitfalls ahead? For those of you who have already launched your programmes, I am sure you have a few of your own to add so please feel free to share in the comments section below.

Until my next post, which hopefully is sooner that later? Stay Tuned.

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