How to Write a Good Innovation Challenge | Nextinit

How to Write a Good Innovation Challenge

Generating ideas and coming up with innovative solutions is the key to launching your business forward. But simply coming up with a plethora of ideas isn’t enough. There needs to be a structure for how you manage and develop these ideas further.
 
This means that businesses must come up with an innovation challenge. Setting an innovation challenge is a great way to establish your mission aim and keep your team engaged with the ideation process.
 
Nextinit is a platform that allows the organization or innovation department to set challenges. These challenges are designed to keep the idea process on the right track. Not sure how to write a good innovation challenge? Read on to learn everything you need to know to get started.

Why Is It Important to Use Challenges in Your Collective Innovation Campaign?

There are many reasons to use challenges in your collective innovation campaign, and they’re all very important. The first and most obvious reason is that people may not be likely to generate ideas without a prompt. For example, if you were to ask your people to write something down on a blank sheet of paper, the first question they will ask is ‘about what?’.
 
If you want to find a good answer, you need to ask good questions first, which is exactly what a challenge does. Setting challenges helps people to focus on their creative efforts. It helps make their ideas more interesting because their goal is to solve a well-defined problem
 
Another reason to set challenges is to innovate according to strategic objectives defined by the organization. This is essential as it helps to define the path we aim to follow and further defines the problems that must be solved within the organization.

Focus on the Future

The best place to start with your innovation challenge is to focus on the future. What do you want the idea to achieve in the long-term? Think about the action or outcome you want this idea to fulfil. 
 
Is there an internal struggle your business needs to resolve? Or an improvement you want to make? Write a clear mission statement about how you want to achieve it. Knowing exactly what the outcome should be will help keep you and your team focused on the end goal. It will make everyone less likely to become side-tracked along the way.

Set a Time Limit

Continuous innovation is important for all businesses to grow. But with an innovation challenge there must be an end time. With Nextinit, users can set a challenge and a time frame for when the challenge should be completed. A free trial is available to see how it works in action. 
 
A time limit can help keep people engaged and more focused on the challenge, and a gamification element makes it an enjoyable process. It will help prevent stagnation of ideas and make the ideation process a more pressing priority for all people involved.
 
To maintain urgency and enthusiasm, the best option is to divide the challenges into groups. Then, the business needs to publish them three to four times per year for two months. By doing this, organizations will be more likely to achieve a high level of engagement throughout the whole year.

Set a Narrow Scope

A time limit isn’t the only parameter that you should put into place. An innovation challenge also needs a narrow scope that focuses on specific topics to refine it as much as possible.  This isn’t to say that the scope should be too specific, as this can hinder the creative process and stagnate innovation. 

It’s important to strike the right balance by keeping the scope narrow, but not restrictive. You need to ensure that it keeps people on track and helps focus on the right aspects of an idea but doesn’t remain closed off from further creativity. And of course, you should never include any potential solution into the challenges you set your people, as this can lead to a lack of creativity in the ideation process.

 

Make It Emotional

It’s important to include an empathy exercise on your participants when writing a challenge. Reducing costs is a business objective, but it isn’t an innovation challenge as it does not emotionally engage your audience.

A global objective like this needs to be cut into more specific challenges that have an emotional impact on the people who are going to participate. You must then ask yourself, how does this problem affect the user?

Designate the Resources

If possible, the business needs to designate the right resources to this project while working on the challenge. When you set the goal at the beginning of the challenge, you should also set which resources are needed to push the idea further.
 
Crowdsourcing ideas from your team is a great way to start the innovation process. But without the resources to put them into place, then they will simply go to waste.

An Example of a Good Challenge

Now that you know how to write a good challenge, let’s take a look at an example of a good challenge in action. Back in November 2018, Harvard Business Review wrote an article titled ‘The End of Bureaucracy’, wherein they discussed the hindrance that bureaucracy has on an organization. In it, they stated that “bureaucracy saps initiative, inhibits risk taking, and crushes creativity. It’s a tax on human achievement.” 

So they decided to do something about it. They set a Beyond Bureaucracy Challenge, a challenge which called for readers to submit their own bold ideas, inspiring stories, and experiments to help end bureaucracy within an organization. 

Within a few weeks, they received 104 entries from around the world from people working to make their organizations “ more resilient, inventive, inspiring, and accountable.” This goes to show that by writing a good challenge that highlights a specific problem that many people are familiar with, your organization can inspire a wealth of valuable ideas to implement.

Writing an innovation challenge is the key to setting up your ideation process up for success. It will help you to refine the ideas crowdsourced by your people and keep it on the right track for success.  Book a demo to see for yourself how setting up innovation challenges can help your business thrive.