How to Use a Digital Innovation Tournament in Your Business ?

Digital Innovation Tournament

How to Use a Digital Innovation Tournament in Your Business?

In all my years as a consultant, one thing I’ve learned is that digital innovation and creativity thrive in all kinds of situations. There is no one way to innovate and there is no one way to stimulate creativity. Sometimes, you don’t even have to do anything to make them happen.

When you think about it that way, digital innovation could be quite easy or can happen any time. But it’s not reliable if you don’t know how or when it will happen. This is why a digital innovation tournament is a great way to generate ideas for your digital transformation. You may not realize it, but it’s already a widespread, entertaining, exciting and effective method.

Ever heard of American Idol?

That’s right. The popular TV reality show is an innovation tournament. So are The Voice and America’s Next Top Model and is Project Runway. They’re just packaged differently and for other industries. They have one thing in common, though: they inspire creativity and innovation in their participants on a regular, on-demand basis.

So how do they do this?

Basically, these innovation tournaments have turned creativity and innovation into a process. They provide opportunities to a set of individuals to pitch ideas or talent to a panel of judges. The winning pitch or idea then gets implemented as both a prize and a profitable business venture. It’s Darwin’s classic ‘survival of the fittest’ process implemented into a certain business.

How do you make one for your business?

No matter what industry you work in, a digital innovation tournament is one of the best things you can do for your company. Be warned, though, it is a time consuming and it is just as tiring as or even more so than other innovation methods. Here are some basic steps to follow:

1 – Define your theme/mission.  Before launching any invitation, it’s very important to frame your digital challenge. Decide whether you want an external or internal digital innovation. Do you want to transform your operations, your business model or your customer experience? Do you want to build new technologies? Create a new market? Develop mobile solutions or new ways to automate your processes?

2 – Select your participants. Are you going to accept pitches or contestants from anywhere in the world or just from your organization? Regardless of educational background or digital experience? Are you doing this by invitation only? Decide whether you want an ‘open’ or ‘closed’ tournament.

3 – Create the structure of your digital tournament. Do you want your participants to fight to the end and get evaluated then? Or do you want to eliminate the worst performing contestant at the end of each round or phase in the contest?

But even if you do make a great digital contest and you certainly know of a lot of people and organizations who want to join, you must remember these:

1 – Make it worth their while. A common mistake of companies who conduct any kind of innovation tournament is that they simply want to take advantage of the influx of ideas. They offer standard compensation to the winner. You have to make the prize sweet enough and worth it for all the contestants.

2 – Use multiple rounds of evaluations. The best way to weed out the ones you don’t want at the very start of your tournament is to create the shortest time possible for contestants to make their pitch. Move them up the process if they pass the short test and weed them out if they don’t.

3 – Limit their time and resources. A digital innovation tournament should showcase how their participants work with limited resources and under time pressure. Make short challenges that let contestants create something short and meaningful.

4 – Stick to a company strategy that you’re looking for. Even before you begin your contest, make sure that you know the kind of digital innovation fits your strategy. Even if a pitch is great, don’t let it get you distracted from what your company needs. If you want something for a specific target market, stick to ideas that appeal to that group of people. It can get hard to filter through all the great pitches but it will eventually cost you more money if you don’t.

At the end of the day the most important thing to keep in mind is that innovation and creativity is a process. A digital innovation tournament is simply a tool.

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