The keys to launching successful innovation challenges

If you work in the Department of Innovation or Human Resources at a large company, chances are you?ve heard about innovation challenges – and may have even carried some out, with greater or lesser success. But what are they and why is their use spreading so fast?

Innovation challenges are a practice derived from Challenge-Based Learning (CBL) that emerged from the ?Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow-Today?, a project launched by Apple in 2008 to solve real problems in a collaborative, experimental, and progressive way. The use of challenges in learning creates a sense of urgency, passion and ownership among teams, factors that are often missing in the day-to-day functioning of companies.

There is also a physiological reason behind the challenges? success in terms of the quality of innovation that these groups produce. The human brain is the organ that consumes the most energy throughout the body, and has therefore evolved to create energy-saving measures throughout time. These measures are called behavior patterns – neural connections that allow us to solve simple problems quickly, but that leave us unable to solve more complex problems by ourselves. This is why humans, like many other mammals, are gregarious animals. Through teamwork, we awaken our creativity if we are in a favourable environment known as the innovation ecosystem.

The first key to launching a successful innovation challenge is found precisely in the design of an efficient innovation ecosystem. It is important to think in terms of incentives and resources. What motivation will your employees, students, or other external actors have to participate? Will they have enough time and resources to work? Will the teams have all the knowledge and skills necessary to solve the challenge?

The second key is the dynamization of the challenge. It will be necessary to have a person with experience in this field. It can be someone from your department, or someone from an outside consultancy firm. Their mission should be to correctly define the challenge along with the steering team – the company department that is looking for an innovative solution – and to be in charge of shaping and guiding the teams throughout the process.

If you intend to involve a large part of the company in these challenges, then your choice of digital platform will also be a key determinant of your project?s success. At Kuorum, we have been advising companies and developing technology for this type of activity for years. If you are looking for a platform, make sure it provides a powerful contact manager that facilitates the project’s dynamization, mass emailing features that allow you to schedule your participation campaigns in advance, and several gamified participation alternatives (debates, surveys, events, etc.).

Last but not least, don?t forget to manage the expectations of the participants as well. Once the process has been completed, it is necessary to involve the winning teams in the development of their projects, provide them with sufficient autonomy, and give them proper follow-ups. If the participants believe that their work was all done in vain, they will be very unlikely to participate in such a process again.