Employees’ ideas are essential for innovation in business. They create new products, new revenue streams; they reduce costs, improve productivity, and make customers happier. But how can you move from employee inspiration to business innovation? One way is by running an innovation contest.
Research shows companies that involve employees in the ideation process are 21% more profitable and have 24% lower turnover in staff.
Great things happen when companies listen to their employees.
Turning a good idea into a great innovation
So, when it comes to innovation in business, the sharing of ideas is critical. The process of employees exchanging, modifying and cross-pollinating their ideas is what transforms a good idea into a great innovation. In fact, look behind any story about a brilliant genius inventor and you’ll discover they didn’t do it alone.
Take one of the defining innovations of the 20th C – the aeroplane. It only came about because the Wright Brothers, bicycle mechanics from Ohio, relentlessly shared their ideas with other innovators around the globe before hitting on the winning formula.
inspiration + collaboration = innovation
The “capsule endoscopy” aka the pill camera – designed to take pictures of your insides when you swallow the pill – also came about after a conversation over a garden fence between a gastroenterologist and a guided missile designer.
So, if innovation starts by sharing an idea, how do you capture it and eventually turn it from fantasy to reality?
With Valo Ideas of course!
How to run an innovation contest inside Microsoft Teams
Collecting ideas within Microsoft Teams has never been easier. We’ve removed any friction… so there’s no need for employees to navigate away from the platform they are spending most of their days in.
Employees simply have to install the Valo Ideas native Microsoft Teams app and then begin ideating.
Pro tip: Employees can pin Valo Ideas to their left-hand rail (where chat, Teams and calendars are found) to make it easy to find.
But, how do you get the ideation process started?
Like with any good project, getting the best ideas from your employees starts with a plan and follows a process. In this article, we’ll walk you through our six-step guide to running a great innovation contest inside Microsoft Teams using Valo Ideas.
Step 1: Outline your innovation contest objectives
Before you create your contest set up a group chat with your team or key stakeholders to agree on:
- Who’s in charge
- How long the contest will last
- What success looks like
Then start by setting a question, objective or challenge that you want to your employees to solve.
Pro tip: We recommend you set “desirements” rather than requirements so not to be too prescriptive, keeping it as a challenge-based approach as much as possible.
Step 2: Capture ideas from employees
Next launch Valo Ideas and create a new campaign for the contest.
Simply fill out the campaign template – populating it with a name, start and end date, a description about the contest and who will benefit, plus add the department in charge.
Make sure your background description is clear as this will helps your colleagues to understand what the campaign is about.
Capturing ideas from employees inside Teams with Valo Ideas is quick and easy because each campaign can be seen as a “channel” inside an existing Team. This means employees can see the contest either within Valo Ideas or within their own Team.
Press “publish” to launch and promote your innovation contest to your employees. Tag employees, Teams, and share the contest link in private chats and on your intranet. Use other internal comms channels, such as your newsletter, to reach your audience and boost engagement.
Pro-tip: For a high impact contest, don’t forget to brand your challenge and give it a catchy name to entice employees to take part.
Step 3: Manage your innovation contest
Every company will have their own way of managing the ideation process. However, for the contest to be successful, we suggest that you introduce “stages” or “statuses” to get the most out of it. This helps to show employees the ideas on their journeys.
“Stages” represent the steps in your ideation process, from capturing ideas to bringing the best ones to life, examples could be:
- In scope – capture ideas that match the brief
- Developing – select ideas that need further information or research
- Assessing – shortlist the most popular or relevant ideas
- Implementing – put selected idea into practice and track delivery
- Complete – mark the idea as complete and feedback on results
“Statuses” are another way to label ideas as they move through the ideation pipeline, for example: “New”, “Active”, “In Progress”, or “Completed”.
Getting your stages and statuses set up early will help you manage ideas effectively as they come in from your team members. The idea stages or statues are visible on the Ideas Cards within the app, so employees can easily keep track of what’s happening with their suggestion.
Pro-tip: Customize the stages and statuses to match your company’s ideation process.
Step 4: Engage employees
Encourage your employees to engage with your innovation contest by asking them to vote for or like their favorite idea. Go one step further and ask them to suggest how they can improve the idea that they like.
As Idea Cards can also be posted in Teams channels, encourage your employees to discuss their ideas in their regular Teams conversations too.
You can check engagement with your innovation contest within the Valo Ideas dashboard (see below). From here you can see the “trend curve”, “most liked”, “most viewed” as well as the “top contributor”.
Pro tip: See our blog 5 ways to innovate using an ideation tool.
Step 5: Shortlist the best ideas
Once your contest deadline has passed, time to shortlist the best ideas!
You can shortlist the top ideas simply by looking at the number of likes or comments they have received in your Teams channel or by using the visual charts in the Valo Ideas app. This will help you and your team to prioritize the best ideas.
Pro tip: When selecting which ideas to take forward, look back at your original set of “desirements”, budget and plan.
Step 6: Implement and bring the best idea/s to life
Teams is the perfect place to kick start the implementation process. Here, you can connect with all the right people with the relevant skills set and experience to bring the idea to life.
Don’t forget to keep engaging with the person who shared the winning idea and those who commented, liked or voted for it. There’s nothing more demotivating than someone contributing a good idea and then hearing nothing about its progress.
Pro tip: Share the idea you’ve chosen to take forward with internal comms, who’ll be able to create a story about its progress for the company newsletter or intranet news centre.
Why Teams is the best platform for running an innovation contest
Teams is a great platform for not only listening to your employees’ ideas but also implementing them too. With the power of Valo Ideas + Microsoft Teams you can quickly set up campaigns around specific business goals and collect ideas where they are already happening.
Setting up a Teams ideation campaign with Valo Ideas is so easy. With Valo’s native Teams app, combined with chat, video calling and file sharing, you can quickly take a campaign from concept to launch in no time.
Want to know more? Watch Daniel Anderson’s “Quick Tip” on how you can use Valo Ideas to turn your Microsoft Teams conversations into actionable ideas.
Find out more about running an innovation contest inside Microsoft Teams by booking a demo with one of our experts today!