Sparking innovation through crowdsourcing

Sparking innovation through crowdsourcing
Implementing innovative practices can be greatly facilitated through idea crowdsourcing and automating idea management

Innovation has become a point of focus for the UAE’s public sector. This move to creating new ideas and compelling service propositions is backed by a framework of awards and recognition, and has been formally codified in public policy. In 2014, for instance, the UAE introduced a National Innovation Strategy. The year after, the Mohammed bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation released a comprehensive Government Innovation Framework to guide public organisations towards the continuous growth and improvement called for in the UAE Vision 2021.

Innovation is a laudable goal but one that can’t exist in a vacuum. For good ideas to metamorphose into market success, they need to be relevant. And this relevance comes from addressing specific pain points, or making people’s lives better.

Consider successful tech startups as an example. The most disruptive ones have tried to address genuine needs. Want to hail a hassle-free ride? There’s Uber for that. Want to find accommodation on your travels without breaking the bank? AirBnb can help. Want to buy a used camera, or sell one of yours? Head to eBay.

This idea of launching services that meet people’s needs is also very pertinent for public sector organisations. But how can a government body tell which ideas will resonate with the people they cater for?

Entrepreneurial circles often talk about idea validation. This is where the worth of an idea is tested in the real world – through a mix of polling, secondary research, focus groups and surveys.

At Mentor Global Consultants, we believe in flipping this approach. Rather than create ideas and then spend time validating them, we think a more powerful approach is to solicit ideas from users, consumers and employees in the first place.

This brings us to crowdsourcing – a movement that is seeing organisations become more open, and turn to people both within and without organisational boundaries to generate powerful ideas.

Crowdsourcing is making waves across the Fortune 500 checklist. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Oreo and LEGO are examples of big brands that are asking the world for new ideas. LEGO, for instance, has launched its LEGO Ideas platform where employees, aficionados and casual customers can submit ideas for new sets.

Crowdsourcing isn’t restricted to the private sector. It is also an exceptionally powerful approach for public sector organisations – helping them cut through red tape to harness innovation and deliver results rapidly.

Nor does crowdsourcing apply to just external audiences. Internal teams are also excellent originators for good ideas. For one, employees know the company and how it works. For another, they operate on the frontlines of the business and so have excellent insights into what their clients are asking for, and what they themselves need to perform their jobs better.

But soliciting ideas from audiences both internal and external is easier said than done. Capturing and vetting requires commitment. It requires investment in crowdsourcing mechanisms. It also needs a rulebook so people are assured that their ideas will be listened to without fear or favour, and judged fairly. People want assurances that there will be no negative repercussions to bold ideas, and that they will get credit for viable ideas that generate business benefits.

Good ideas are also not enough by themselves: they need to be successfully incubated, supported and executed. And this calls for an integrated ecosystem that automatically pushes viable ideas towards implementation followed by evaluation.

Fortunately, technological advances have made this very possible. Gone are the days of trying to solicit feedback with a pencil and clipboard. Now, public sector organisations can rely on integrated solutions that create open channels for people to have their say, backed by mechanisms for evaluating ideas and setting up frameworks for execution.

Crowdsourcing does more than just pave the way for innovation. It can also change the way public sector organisations operate. It encourages collaboration between employees and management. It sparks better communication both laterally and vertically. Crowdsourcing helps flatten silos in favour of collaborative teamwork. And by necessity it makes public sector organisations more open and responsive to feedback.

The bottom line is that crowdsourcing is a very powerful way of sparking a culture of continuous innovation. But it needs to become part of organizational culture, and not a mere afterthought. The best crowdsourcing efforts require idea submission channels that are constantly open. They also need mechanisms to evaluate ideas, garner feedback, and move seamlessly to implementation. Only then does the power of crowdsourced ideas turn into happiness and value for the public at large.


MENTOR provides innovation platforms that facilitate idea crowdsourcing, management and incubation. These systems make it easy to gather and implement ideas received from customers, employees and the public. Read about our idea management systems.

Find out how you can simplify and encourage innovation practices in your organization. Talk to a consultant about idea management solutions.

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