When we speak of innovation from the perspective of invention, problem solving, or access to innovation dollars, it is clear that the companies and organizations have developed a rigid mental model of the “innovators” that participate in such endeavors. A recent article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review alludes to the monopoly that top schools have on social entrepreneurs. We all know this contradicts the universal fact that brilliant solutions can come from anywhere. This is where Sensis comes in. As a driver of the cross-cultural conversation in advertising, Sensis has seized the opportunity to change the paradigm. SensisChallenges – the practice that I co-founded at Sensis – runs Xprize-style innovation challenges for organizations looking to reach crowd innovators.
Our challenge approach creates a brand and outreach strategy that is cross-cultural or more specifically cross-persona. We then use marketing tech algorithms to amplify participation from a variety of groups.
Note: I’ll talk more about the rise of crowd-innovation and how agencies and companies are using it at ADWKDC. Join me Tuesday night, 10/18, to learn how you can be a part of the solution revolution.
So how can using advanced marketing tech dispel myths about who real innovators are? Here’s how we’re doing it at SensisChallenges:
Myth #1 – I’ve hired the best innovators in the world. While most companies and agencies believe this, we have observed time and again that Joy’s law holds true: “no matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.” We run challenge campaigns that go beyond the four walls of an organization to source the right solution to the right problem.
Myth #2 – Real innovators are only in the Silicon Valley. This seems to be a continuing obsession of organizations trying to establish an innovation track record. While it’s true that there is something special about the Valley, we reach beyond the usual suspects to surface off-the-grid innovators that even VCs have now admitted to overlooking.
Myth #3 – The Lone Genius Innovator. Most organizations think they are looking for an individual or a single solver. The reality is that innovators collaborate, desire transparency, and seek frequent feedback. We structure innovation challenge programs that emphasize co-creation to take solutions from concept to deployment.
In our most recent technology innovation challenges with the US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), we discovered that 56% of the prize winners were from underrepresented groups – among these were women, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans. While not a direct objective of these projects, this diversity of winners is a pleasant validation that challenges can save us from our biases and liberate smart ideas. We just have to be smarter about how we find them.
Special Guest Post by Mike Contreras, Director, Sensis
Check out Mike’s speaker bio, and mark your calendar for his session Super-Community Managers Wanted: Why Crowdsourcing Activates Everyday Problem Solvers, along with the rest of this year’s weeklong ADWKDC celebration – happening October 15-21.
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