5 Things to Think About When It Comes To Innovation Incentives

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There is much discussion about community engagement when it comes to the business of innovation and idea management. But one of the things that it seems like there is not enough discussion of is the incentivization of the innovation process. There are numerous ways to reward participants when it comes to making improvements to businesses, brands, or organizations. Crowdfunders often offer a part of the product or simply the recognition of contributing to a great community (the Kickstarter model), but what is most effective and what should you ask yourself when beginning to incentivize a program?

But what have we learned about incentivizing the innovation process? What is the most effective tool for motivation? Is it right for all communities? Here are some thoughts about incentives and innovation.

1.    There’s value to recognition. 69% of employees would work harder if they were better recognized. This doesn’t even mean tangible awards of any sort, but simply an acknowledgment of the value of contributions. And this goes for the innovation process, as well. Employees that are recognized will work harder and generate better work.


2.    Rewards that are based on the level of engagement generated by an idea are often the most effective. One study found that ideas rewarded for impact increased the number of ideas from a single participant and those ideas had a higher word average per idea and a higher qualitative score attributed by judges.

3.     Good ideas happen in communities with good moderation. When participants know that they are being monitored for their work (both good and bad), they are more likely to contribute valuable insight.

4.    Rewards can mean a number of things. Get creative. Kickstarter alumni are great at this. The President’s SAVE Award rewards folks with a meeting with the President. Manor, Texas gives “innobucks” away that can be exchanged for ride-along’s with the Sheriff or lunch with the Mayor. It doesn’t have to be cold, hard cash.

5.    There are a number of behaviors to incentivize: ideas contributed, random participation, those who help keep the community organized, time spent on a project. What makes the most sense for your community?

And sometimes participation itself is the reward, if the community that one is building is a community that one wants to be a part of. If you’re dialoguing regularly with interesting people, if the results are truly engaging, being a part of the magic is simply the reward.

One Columbia Professor, Olivier Toubia has conducted a variety of trials studying the effectiveness of crowdsourcing and idea generation, particularly when it comes to incentivizing the process and he has some ideas. IdeaScale is glad to host him in a complimentary webinar that will take place on January 9th at 9:30 a.m. PST. Register here for this complimentary webinar and find out what sort of incentives program might work best for you.

Note: This post was originally published on GovLoop.

About Jessica Day

Jessica Day manages marketing and communications for IdeaScale. She has been working in the marketing industry for more than five years with a variety of companies including digital agencies like Ascentium and Knee Deep Marketing and contracting for larger companies like Microsoft.

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