One of the most important factors for a fruitful open innovation process is high engagement. Collaborators will impact the quality of feedback and ideas. The greater the number of participants and the higher the number of comments, the less intimidating it is for new participants to submit ideas. Two heads are better than one. The more exchanges are happening the easier it is to knock ideas into shape.
Typical online participation statistics look like this: 90–9–1. 90 percent of participants are readers, 9 percent contribute feedback and 1 percent contribute ideas. In my experience, open innovation raises the number of people contributing ideas and commenting to up to 50 percent. This of course makes the process more vibrant, but to do so you need to mobilize as many people as possible and keep the momentum.During the process it is advisable to use facilitation as participation tends to be significantly higher when you actively engage as a moderator. This is true for both online and offline communities.
Organizers of open innovation contests are in charge of setting the frame for the community; encouraging participants to say more by asking the right questions and providing the right information. This is done both during the event during the run-up to the event by using email and social media. Moderators help weave the threads of the community, normally by enforcing general rules. Moderators tend to be the problem solvers as they are in charge to oversee time frames, the etiquette, and most important, that the conversations remain focused.
Here is some advice on how to facilitate an open innovation process and keep up its momentum:
- Step in if a comment or idea does not get a reply for a long time and ask a follow up question.
- Intervene if discussions get tense and try to clarify things.
- Target people who are not actively participating by sending them private emails. Never in public.
- Keep encouraging active participants to continue engaging.
- Sum up the latest developments in the process with a weekly newsletter.
- Encourage top managers or other stakeholders to engage in the discussion.
About the Author
Christian Kreutz is an author, speaker, strategic advisor and expert in open and social innovation. He has been advising for over 10 years organizations such as the World Bank, GIZ, UNDP, Nesta, Deutsche Welle and the Bertelsmann Foundation, providing them with the necessary insights and tools to build their corporate innovation capabilities. As the director of Crisscrossed GmbH, he has developed various projects such as WE THINQ – a social software for change makers to empower citizens, employees and stakeholders to asses challenges and find creative solutions through new forms of cooperation. He believes in the power of transparency and holds the potential of open and shared knowledge as the foundation for sustainable innovation. He writes about his journeys on social innovation and the use of information and communication technologies centered on people on his widely cited blog www.crisscrossed.net.