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Innovation Blog


The False Promise of “Free” Innovation Software

This week, I was talking with one of our clients about additional ways to leverage our innovation software. I soon learned they had been offered an innovation platform from a competitor for three years, for free. They were tempted to take the offer of “free.” For a day.

But then they thought about what they need the platform to do, namely:

  1. COLLECT ideas, through engaging employees and other stakeholders
  2. ASSESS ideas
  3. Help PRIORITIZE what to do
  4. Catalyze ACTION through providing portfolio and program review and reporting capabilities.

The success of innovation software rests on all four of these 4 purposes. Merely collecting ideas, or collecting and assessing ideas, is not enough. Suddenly the free software offer was downright laughable. They calculated that “free” would ultimately cost more – due to custom developments and bolt-on features to give them what they really needed.

“Getting ideas is easy,” their group CIO said to me. “The challenge is having rigor into how to assess and prioritize them, aligned with what we want to innovate around. Without that, frankly, what good is a platform, or any innovation program?”

The key to every high-impact innovation program is the use of some type of management platform. It sounds simple and it should be. But discussions around which platforms to use and how to use them get all balled up in a fuzz of features and functions, bells and whistles, and how good something looks as opposed to how effective it is at doing what needs to be done.

Avoid the trap this company almost ran into. No matter what software platform you are evaluating, make sure to have clarity of focus around the four essential objectives, namely to COLLECT, ASSESS, PRIORITIZE, and ACT on your ideas.  Unless you’re able to do all four effectively, you’re wasting your time and money. And quite possibly jeopardizing the future of your innovation program.

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