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Carrot chasing...or not!

It was interesting to pick up on the role incentives play – or don't play– during our exploration of open innovation.

Photo of Joanna Spoth
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Here are a few posts the OpenIDEO team was inspired by during the challenge, all falling under the theme of, "Where's the carrot?"

In her post Wishes for open innovation, Shari walks us through her own journey with innovation, starting with her desire to tackle human health challenges. She outlines 7 "Innovation Wishes" – a few of which tie into the carrot conversation. One incentive for participating in open innovation processes is the community: "Participants in open innovation may stay more engaged when others rate or respond to very specific attributes of their contributions."
She also mentions the use of tools as incentives and the need for transparency when communicating possible incentives to community members.

Christian writes about open innovation being an incentive for employee engagement in his post, creating a feeling "that workers are not only doing a valuable job for their employer but also actively participating and contributing to the future success of the company." He does mention that incentives are a key part of this feeling and that "rewards should focus more on maximizing active participation than rewarding those projects being tested or implemented, since participation is the key to an increasing success of open innovation initiatives at corporations." This is an interesting provocation around incentivizing not only the "best" ideas but diverse and frequent input.

Another really inspiring post, Nudge Innovation, came from Erik. This plays into incentives because it prompts us to wonder what our world would be like if innovation was habit, "the same way we hold the door open for an elderly." In order for this kind of problem-solving behavior to become habitual, we'll need a few nudges along the way. Some of Erik's suggestions: replacing crosswords with real challenges, getting free coffee for great ideas, or solving other's problems from our Facebook timeline.

We loved reading this fresh thinking from the OpenIDEO community and are excited to continue to explore the role incentives and rewards play in different parts of the open innovation process.

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Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Joanna, I really like your analysis and liked the thought-provoking title... I have personally always thought of intrinsic motivation being an underlying assumption / mechanism for OpenIDEO: no winning idea, design quotient where collaboration is acknowledged as a key activity. ... and the focus itself: social innovation.  These were points we highlighted based on our interviews of the OpenIDEO founding team 

I found Christian's quote interesting but I'd like to put it in a broader context. Indeed, when I first read it, I could not agree completely as it seemed to me that to be sustained participation has to "lead somewhere". In organizations, people won't keep providing ideas if they never see them implementing or at least taken into account in one form or another.  However, going to his post and reading the previous sentence "In order to maximize the number of highly engaged employees giving their best every day, it's equally (or even more) important to include and clearly communicate a solid and generous reward system for all participants.", I believe we are in agreement. Not all projects can be implemented but participation matters and this is what the design quotient illustrates. :-) 

Thanks again for this highlight which I think raise a crucial issue for any open innovation communities, and probably even more when it comes to social impact (see Alina's comment). 

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