Democratizing Innovation: How to Empower People to Innovate6 min read
Innovation is the key to success in today’s competitive and dynamic markets. But who are the innovators, and how can they be supported? Traditionally, innovation has been seen as the domain of experts, researchers, and manufacturers who develop new products and services for customers. However, this view is changing as more and more users and employees are becoming involved in the innovation process, creating solutions that fit their own needs and preferences. This is what we call democratizing innovation.
What is Democratizing innovation?
Democratizing innovation means that employees, customers, and users of products and services, both firms and individual consumers, can share ideas and even sometimes help develop what they need. It also means that employees within organizations are encouraged to share their ideas, collaborate with others to enrich and score ideas and experiment with new ways of working. Democratizing innovation has many benefits, such as:
Increasing employee/customer satisfaction and loyalty by offering customized and personalized solutions
increasing the diversity of ideas (Crowdsourcing)
Better decision-making (wisdom of the crowd)
Engage employees and customers in developing an innovative strategy.
Enhancing employee engagement and motivation by giving them more autonomy and ownership over their work
Improving organizational performance and competitiveness by fostering a culture of learning and adaptation
Stimulating social and environmental impact by addressing unmet needs and challenges in society
Democratizing innovation is the idea that innovation is not only the domain of experts, corporations, or governments but also of ordinary people who can participate in creating, sharing, and using new solutions to address their needs and challenges. Democratizing innovation can take many forms, such as campaigns where employees, and customers are invited for, open innovation, citizen science, maker culture, social innovation, and user-led design. Democratizing innovation can have many benefits, such as increasing the diversity of ideas, empowering communities, fostering collaboration and learning, and solving problems neglected or overlooked by mainstream actors. However, democratizing innovation also faces many challenges, such as ensuring the quality, sustainability, scalability, accessibility, and ethics of the innovations, as well as balancing the interests and rights of different stakeholders involved in the innovation process.
Examples of Democratising innovation
Democratizing innovation is the idea that innovation can be driven by a wide range of actors, not just experts or elites, and that it can benefit society as a whole, not just a few. Some pragmatic examples of democratizing innovation are:
Open innovation refers to a situation where an organization doesn’t solely rely on its internal knowledge and resources for innovation. Instead, it actively seeks external sources to drive innovation.
Inbound Open Innovation: In this approach, organizations source and acquire expertise from outside. They scan the external environment for new information, identify promising ideas, and incorporate them internally.
Outbound Open Innovation: Outbound innovation focuses on commercializing and capturing internally developed ideas in the external environment. This might involve selectively revealing a product to journalists, selling technology or services to customers for feedback, or other strategic moves.
Wisdom of the crowd – refers to the collective opinion (score and select) of a diverse (independent) group of individuals rather than relying solely on the judgment of a single expert. For example, a group of experts instead of 1 expert or a group of employees/customers instead of an expert or a manager.
Crowdfunding: This is a method of raising funds for a project or a cause from a large number of people, usually through the Internet. Anyone can propose an idea, set a goal, and offer rewards to backers. Crowdfunding can enable entrepreneurs, artists, and social innovators to access resources and support from a global community, as well as test and validate their ideas.
Citizen science: This is a form of scientific research that involves the participation of non-professional scientists, such as hobbyists, students, or activists. They can contribute to data collection, analysis, or dissemination using various tools and platforms. Citizen science can enhance the scope, scale, and relevance of scientific knowledge, as well as empower and educate the public.
How to Democratise Innovation in Your Organisation
Democratizing innovation is not easy. It requires a shift in mindset, culture, and practices that enable users and employees to participate in the innovation process. Here are some steps you can take to democratize innovation in your organization:
Identify and understand your employees, customers, users, etc.. Use surveys, interviews, observations, and feedback to learn about their needs, preferences, problems, and aspirations. Involve them in co-creating solutions that suit their contexts and goals.
Provide tools and resources that facilitate user and employee innovation. Offer platforms, technologies, training, and support that allow users and employees to access information, communicate, collaborate, prototype, test, and implement their ideas.
Recognise and reward user and employee innovation. Acknowledge the contributions of users and employees to the innovation process. Celebrate their successes, learn from their failures, and provide incentives for continuous improvement.
Integrate user and employee innovation into your strategy. Align your vision, mission, values, and goals with the needs and aspirations of your users and employees. Incorporate their insights and feedback into your decision-making and planning.
How Accept Mission Can Help You Democratise Innovation
Accept Mission is a platform that helps you democratize innovation in your organization. It allows you to:
Run online innovation campaigns (missions) that engage your users and employees in generating, evaluating, and selecting ideas for new products, services, processes, or business models
Group decision-making process of scoring and selecting the best innovation ideas.
Manage innovation projects that enable your users and employees to collaborate and with external experts to develop, prototype, test, and launch their ideas
Monitor online innovation portfolios that track the progress, impact, and value of your user and employee innovations
Learn online innovation skills that equip your users and employees with the knowledge, methods, tools, and best practices for successful innovation
home score and selelect
Accept Mission is designed to make innovation fun, easy, accessible, and effective for everyone. It helps you unleash the creative potential of your users and employees and create value for your organization.
If you want to learn more about how Accept Mission can help you democratize innovation in your organization, book a demo with one of our experts or start a trial of the software.