Friday, 23 September 2011

Crowdsourced innovation

Last session was from the Head of Innovation at the Department of Work and Pensions.Some facts and figures about them:
20m customers
14m payments a week
1m job searches a day
100k staff
7 people in the innovation team!

One of the mistakes they made in the beginning was to focus on a few big things in the hope that they would get some big wins. But, many innovation projects fail, and if all of your eggs are in a few baskets, there is nothing to show. The whole point of innovation is that it's risky. In an organisation the size of DWP you need lots of ideas to make a difference  - 7 people can't do it.

3 great myths about public sector innovation:
We don't have the time
We don't have the resource
We don't have the culture

So, in order to address them, particularly the last in the hope that it would solve the first two a number of initiatives were considered. First was reward - make everyone submit an idea as part of their review process, but that would provide only quantity, not quantity, and would not be popular. Social mechanisms are very important and have to be considered as part of any strategy. He illustrated this with a clip from a TED talk by Clay Shirky about nurseries who introduced fines for parents who were late picking their kids up. It's here, about 6.50 mins in.

If you want people to be generous think of the social mechanisms you can apply, and your peers are very important. Crowdsourcing was considered, and he gave a really good example of a this in Ushahidi, which is a crowd sourced crisis monitoring tool, provided by volunteers.

Most of us know that wikipedia is the worlds largest wiki, but how many know that the second largest is the World of Warcraft wiki?  So, they looked at Game Dynamics - a good talk on it here, worth a watch, and look at the guys job title.....

They decided to use game theory combined with social activity to motivate individuals to contribute to innovation.
They invented Idea Street, where the objective of the game is to get your idea implemented by completing a series of tasks.
First phase is the buzz phase where you have to get people commenting on your idea, talking about it and people come up with lots of innovative ideas to get people interested
Second phase is the  team phase where you recruit team members to help you build an idea into a fundable proposition
Third phase is the investment phase where you answer the questions can we do it, should we do it, when can we do it
There is trading in virtual currency, and you can offer people virtual shares to be a team member. You earn currency by activity like having ideas, refer a friend, commenting. The share price fluctuates during investment phase and at the end of the investment phase if successful, goes to 100 and everyone gets a share.If not, crashes to 0 and everyone loses share.

Since its launch in 2009, they've developed a network of 10,000 innovators, 1,800 ideas are in the pipeline. They've delivered 74 successful ideas with £20m savings

So, who's going to develop our game?

PS apologies if the videos aren't sized properly, you can always look for them on

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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