How to be an effective challenge management team?
Challenges are one of the most effective ways to unlock innovation in organizations, companies, and businesses. What is a challenge, you may be asking?
A challenge is a time-bound solicitation of ideas with a specific goal and context.
Sharing the right challenges with the right audiences can boost your innovation culture and surface unforeseen ideas that will cause an impact and add value to your organization.
Challenges are great because they raise awareness by signaling where a company needs to innovate the most and inspire people by driving collaboration around what needs to be solved.
Challenges will also help to keep a good flow of ideas by generating interest and calling people to action. By defining a common purpose and goals, challenges allow people to connect and create coalitions that drive innovation. This is how you access new knowledge that people will combine to generate stronger ideas.
Knowing how to manage challenges and launching them the right way is crucial to the success of this idea-gathering method.
If you are looking for tips on managing your challenges, we've got your back.
Following are some great tips on how to launch challenges from the preparation stage all the way to their completion.
What are the main tasks of the challenge management team?
As a challenge management team, you are probably quite familiar with the problems or the needs that lead you to want to launch and successfully run innovation challenges.
That's a great thing.
Challenge management teams should represent those most interested in getting help to solve the problems at hand.
The challenge management team must facilitate participation and make it easy for the community to engage in the process.
The team should also work to motivate the community through impactful communication strategies and other methods.
Finally, they are also in charge of the idea selection and evaluation activities that occur toward the end of the challenge.
The challenge management team is vital in connecting the community and the innovation activity. It's a pretty neat gig!
Now, let's dive into the specifics of launching an effective challenge.
How to launch an effective innovation challenge?
1. DEFINE WHAT YOUR INNOVATION GOALS ARE
Before you start, you need to define your innovation goals or inquire about your leadership's innovation goals.
Goals give us direction and a focus so we can more effectively bring others on board to innovate.
Is your goal to solve a specific problem, address a concrete need, or seize a specific opportunity?
Or perhaps you are simply looking for new ways to spot emerging opportunities to innovate in a particular domain?
Whatever your goal is, make sure that you are clear about what you think the results of your challenge should be.
2. DECIDE WHO YOU WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS CHALLENGE
Challenges are great because you can extend them to all sorts of people. Your role in this part is figuring out who will have access to this challenge.
For example, you could choose to focus your challenge on employees from a specific department or decide to include the entire organization. Another option would be to focus the challenge on a particular subject and bring in relevant participants within your company. The possibilities are endless.
Determining this will help you plan the challenge launch because you'll have a better idea of who will participate and what resources you'll need to ensure your audience can easily access the challenge.
3. CHOOSE THE PLATFORM ON WHICH TO RUN YOUR CHALLENGE
Now that you've determined your goals and who you want to reach with your challenge, it's time to decide which platform you'll use to launch it.
There are various avenues through which you can launch a challenge. You can host a live event open to all your participants. You can pick a physical place at the office where your people could drop ideas. You could also use emails and spreadsheets to keep track of ideas gathered.
None of the methods mentioned so far is bad per se, but they may not be the most efficient and could be pretty time-consuming. That is why many companies and organizations rely on innovation management software to help launch their challenges.
Innovation management software automates the challenge launching process making it easy to onboard internal and external people and manage the whole process.
InnovationCast is an example of such a solution and would be a great choice of platform to use. The software lets you launch time-bound challenge campaigns in minutes and gives you all the tools to keep people engaged.
InnovationCast provides a central hub from which you can launch your campaigns. It allows you to onboard participants quickly and enable them to submit ideas, comment, and provide feedback on others' ideas.
As a challenge management team, you can design submission forms with guiding questions to help focus the submitted ideas. That way, you avoid the "suggestion box" model where anything goes.
As for feedback, people can rate an idea and comment on why they think it is good, why it would need more work, or present any additional questions they may have.
In addition, InnovationCast provides you with gamification tools that help incentivize participation. Participants who contribute significantly to the betterment of an idea can be publicly recognized as "significant contributors" on the platform and receive other badges. Managers can create their own badge system based on the type of participation they want.
Innovation management software tools are greatly beneficial when it comes to launching challenges. They automate the process, gather all your community in one place, and make it easier for you to get the results you're looking for.
4. WRITE THE CHALLENGE
Once you've determined the platform, start drafting the challenge. The content for a well-written challenge must include three things: a background, the challenge description, and the evaluation criteria.
Your audience needs to be able to understand the context of the challenge. You may be familiar with some of the issues that need to be addressed or the innovation goals of the company, but many in your target audience may not. With the right contextual information, participants can devise ideas to directly answer the challenge.
Seek to answer the question: "Why are we considering this challenge?"
Then you can proceed to explain the why. This is meant to inspire and capture your audience's attention. Simon Sinek, inspirational speaker and author of Start With Why, articulated the importance of the Why when inspiring people when he said:
"When you do it right, the 'Why' will give people a cause to believe in, a purpose to work towards, and a reason to do the things that will drive your organization forward."
The same can be applied to how you communicate your challenge. Don't immediately jump into what you want people to do or come up with, but instead, take the time to inspire by clearly communicating the why behind your challenge.
All who read your challenge will have to choose whether or not to participate. You can win their hearts and minds by conveying a strong sense of purpose, urgency, and potential to drive positive and meaningful change.
After giving your audience the proper background, you can dive into the call to action.
First, try to summarize your challenge in one paragraph. Don't extend too much beyond that.
The goal is to keep them reading so they can learn more about what you are looking for and ultimately decide whether to participate.
Let the audience know what the challenge seeks to address and the type of solutions you seek. Does the challenge address a need or a problem? Or is it simply seeking to explore emerging opportunities? Aim to be as straightforward as possible about the end goal.
The rest of the description should fill in the remaining gaps. Remember that it should be complete and easy to read. Feel free to use videos, diagrams, and images, if possible, to convey your message.
If there are less relevant details that you still want to communicate, consider including them as an attachment and let the readers know of their location. Alternatively, publishing such content as follow-up communication (like a blog post) can be an excellent way to engage people further.
Sometimes challenges have ambitious goals and are aimed at solving big questions. These types of challenges may require ideas that would lead to breakthroughs.
Other times, you might use challenges to accelerate innovation by opening participation to a larger pool of people.
Depending on the challenge goal, you must consider communicating how exactly the ideas will be evaluated. This gives participants a sense of direction and helps them determine whether their idea fits the challenge.
Each challenge must have a set of criteria appropriate to its scope. These criteria have to be defined and communicated. Consider the following questions to help you develop evaluation criteria:
Is the idea clearly communicated?
Does it satisfy the challenge?
Is it relevant to the challenge's objectives?
Is it desirable to the beneficiaries of the challenge?
Does it seem to be financially viable?
Does it seem feasible?
Do the results feel sustainable?
In the evaluation section of your challenge, you should also inform people of any additional relevant considerations or constraints.
If there are potential solutions that have previously been explored but are not desired, you can let your audience know in advance as well.
6. CREATE A TIMELINE AND SET DEADLINES
Next up, it's time to set a timeline and deadline. This is the stage where you would determine when it would be a good time to launch and the duration of the challenge.
It's essential to pick a period in which participants are more likely to participate and have fewer impediments. Consider your company calendar and constraints such as vacations, the end of the quarter/year, or any hectic seasons. Plan wisely and determine the best time to launch the challenge.
You must also figure out what will happen after the challenge closes. How exactly will user participation be recognized and ideas highlighted? How will you showcase the results to the broader community?
You must remember these essential details if you want the launch process to run smoothly.
7. DEVISE A COMMUNICATION STRATEGY
With any sort of campaign or contest, it's necessary to have a communication strategy effectively reach people and encourage them to participate and keep contributing.
The same goes for innovation challenges. An effective communication strategy ensures that your audience is inspired to participate and stays with you throughout the contest.
The communication strategy needs to address the pre-launch phase as well as the closure phase.
Here are some things to keep in mind when coming up with a communication strategy:
Figure out how you'll disseminate the challenge to attract participants and establish what is expected of them in the challenge.
Develop actions that keep participants committed to the challenge, ideally providing inspiring content. Be sure to monitor participation throughout the challenge.
Having a good communication strategy will ensure that participants become aware of the challenge and are inspired to be a part of it.
Now that you've received some guidance on being an effective challenge management team and tips on launching a challenge, it's time to get started!
If you'd like to use innovation management software to help you with the process, consider checking out InnovationCast.
If you're ready to chat with us, request a demo today.