Change Management Best Practices & World-Class Change Deployment Methodology



Best Practice Change Management Framework


Any change initiative should employ a proven & world-class change management implementation framework


Best Practice Change Management Project Approach & Plan – Define Goals, Obtain Buy-In

Change Management Methodology: Any change initiative should employ a proven & world-class change management implementation framework. Best Practice Steps to Define Change Goals and Obtain Buy-In for the Change


Best Practice Change Management Project Approach & Plan – Design Change Approach

Change Management Methodology: Best Practice Steps to Designing a Solid Change Approach


Best Practice Change Management Project Approach & Plan – Develop and Deploy Change

Change Management Methodology: Best Practice Steps to Developing and Deploying Change


Best Practice Change Management Project Approach & Plan – Deliver Change Results

Change Management Methodology: Best Practice Steps to Delivering Change Results


Management’s Crucial Role In Supporting Change

Management Must Have Clearly Articulated Roles in Facilitating and Supporting any Change


Organizational Change Alignment Possible Outcomes

The graphic above depicts the various change outcomes possible. Following a solid change methodology can ensure the optimal state of “total alignment”


Change Initiative Ranking Analysis Techniques

A best practice change approach includes proven methods and techniques to evaluate potential change initiatives to undertake


Typical & Critical Change Initiative Roles & Organizational Structure

A world-class change approach includes mapping out change roles and delivering sufficient training and role change orchestration. This approach ensures that aspect of the organization is pulling together in synergy on every level following the implementation of the change.


Change Management Initiative Resource Plan

A world-class change approach includes mapping out a change implementation organization including the organizational inter-relationships, special committees and groups as well as specific roles and responsibilities.


The Role of Middle Management in Change Management

A world-class change approach must include middle management inclusion strategies


Managing & Mitigating Organizational Change Resistance

Careful Considerations must be made to anticipate and mitigate change resistance, including from middle management


Executive Support for Change Management

A world-class change approach includes planning how executive support will be applied during any change initiative


Change Management Strategies for Institutionalizing Change

Best practice change methodologies and strategies can mitigate the pitfalls associated with not institutionalizing a change which risks, over time, organizational drift away from the desired change state.

Change Management 101 Primer for Senior Executives (CEOs, COOs, CSOs, CMOs, CFOs, CCOs, etc.)

The following blog was written to provide a simple primer on Change Management for Top Executives. It is written so you ‘get it’ in 15 minutes or less of reading this article.

Change IS Disruptive, but Change Management Can Mitigate Impacts to Productivity

Change IS Disruptive, but Change Management Can Mitigate The Impact on Productivity

As a business leader, have you ever encountered the following challenges within your company:?

1. Implemented new technology or IT system and people failed to adopt & fully utilize it?

2. Implemented new processes and ways of doing business and your employees continued to follow the older methods?

3. Your competition continually seems to be evolving and innovating, developing new and more effective ways of doing business, while your company culture resists change and new ways of doing business?

The remainder of this blog is dedicated to sharing some of the techniques to get your organization to embrace and be supportive of change.  These change management techniques are based on my years of implementing change at organizations like Macy’s, American Express, Intuit, AT&T, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Oracle, CBS Interactive, Wells Fargo, and numerous other Fortune 500 companies.

Topics in this blog:

1)      What is Change Management – A Simple Definition

2)      Why is it Important?

3)      Why is change resisted by so many employees?

4)      Do all employees approach change the same way and how do you harness the power of the innovators and change ‘early adopters’?

5)      How Change Management Helps Accelerate Change

6)      Change Management Mitigates the Impact on Productivity while Implementing Change

7)      The Organizational Change Model Facilitates Change Success & Greater Business Results

8)      Steps in the Organizational Change Model Ensure Change Project Success

9)      The Importance of the eight (8) Change Management Steps

10)   Summary – Change Management & Innovation Requires a 360°, holistic approach driven by skilled and experienced change management professionals

1)    A simple definition of what change management is:

A Simple Definiton for Change Management

A Simple Definiton for Change Management

2)    Why is change management so important?

Why Is Change Management So Important?

Why Is Change Management So Important?

3)    Why is change resisted by many employees?

Why is change resisted by many employees?

Why is change resisted by many employees?

Bottom Line: Without proper education and motivation, change is naturally resisted within the workplace by all but a few.

4)    Do all employees approach change the same way?

Employee Change Adopter Curve

Employee Change Adopter Curve

As depicted by the above chart, employees range from ardent resisters to innovators. Change management solicits the support from innovators and early adopters to help diffuse organizational change to the remainder of the organization.   

5)    How Change Management Helps Accelerate Change

How Change Management Helps Accelerate Change

How Change Management Helps Accelerate Change

Change management not only removes obstacles to change, it helps develop enthusiasm and excitement for accelerated change in the future. 

6)    Change Management Mitigates the Impact on Productivity While Implementing Change

Change Management Productivity Curve

Change Management Productivity Curve

By having a robust change management methodology and plan, disruptions to business productivity can be minimized until the desired change state is achieved.  

7)    The Organizational Change Model Facilitates Change Success & Greater Business Results

Organizational Change Management Model

Organizational Change Management Model

By having a robust change management methodology and model, change success and enhanced business performance can be nearly guaranteed.

8)    Steps in the Organizational Change Model Ensure Change Project Success

Change Steps in The Change Management Approach

Change Steps in The Change Management Approach

Change projects must have clearly defined and measurable steps that align with the overall change methodology.  This approach greatly enhances the chance that the change project will be successful as well as facilitates the achievement of desired-positive business outcomes.

9)    The Importance of the eight (8) Change Management Steps

The next set of graphs highlight the importance of each step in the change management (project) process:

Step #1

Change Management - Step #1

Change Management – Step #1

Step #2:

Change Management - Step #2

Change Management – Step #2

Step #3:

Change Management - Step #3

Change Management – Step #3

Step #4:

Change Management - Step #4

Change Management – Step #4

Step #5:

Change Management - Step #5

Change Management – Step #5

Step #6:

Change Management - Step #6

Change Management – Step #6

Step #7:

Change Management - Step #7

Change Management – Step #7

Step #8:

Change Management - Step #8

Change Management – Step #8

10)         Summary – Change Management & Innovation Requires a 360°, holistic approach

Holistic Organizational Change Components

Holistic Organizational Change Components

In summary, change management requires leveraging a proven change methodology, skilled change management practitioners and a holistic approach to implementing corporate innovation and change. The above is a simple depiction of a best practice approach I have used on many change management projects at many of the Fortune 500 companies in the US.

The Recipe for Hyper-Innovation

A Success Story on how a company innovated to #1 – Market Leadership, Stock Value, Employee Engagement, Revenue Enhancement/Cost Reduction

Recent GE Logo History


According to Kikipedia, the term innovation derives from the Latin word innovatus, which is the noun form of innovare “to renew or change,” stemming from in-“into” + novus-“new”. Although the term is broadly used, innovation generally refers to the creation of better or more effective products, processes, technologies, or ideas.


At GE, an innovation program was developed during the late 1980’s called “Work-Out” as part of Jack Welch’s drive for better productivity, efficiency and greater innovation. Initially, GE’s Work-Out program was intended to identify and eliminate unneeded processes and tasks that were left over from previous years that became inefficient, as Jack put it, riding ourselves of meaningless tasks “Just because that’s the way we always did things”. After the restructuring identified via Work-Out, many GE groups accomplished their goals with fewer people and with reduced cycle time which drove ever higher levels of increased revenues, reduced costs and greater customer satisfaction & delivery.


The aptly named GE Work-Out process involved identifying an area in need of improvement and assembling a cross-functional team of people together from all aspects of the business (design, marketing, production, sales, manufacturing, software, etc.) to identify a better process, method, strategy, etc. The task for GE Work-Out teams was to meet outside of its normal work environment (and occasionally outside normal working hours) to discuss business inefficiencies and to develop business improvement recommendations.


As Work-Out unfolded, Jack Welch began to recognize that employees were an important source of new and creative ideas that would drive overall corporate innovation. Jack then drove to create a sustainable innovation environment that pushed towards a relentless, endless and companywide search for a “finding a better way, every day.” The Work-Out program was then evolved into a methodology that was created to reduce bureaucracy and to empower every employee, from managers to janitorial staff, an opportunity to improve and innovate on GE’s operations.


From a corporate perspective, the goal of the Work-Out program was to streamline GE and to make workers more productive and processes simpler and more straightforward. From an employee perspective, Work-Out was an empowering program that enabled everyone to contribute suggestions, innovative ideas and corporate efficiency perspectives to make their jobs easier/better and enabled them to deliver higher value to customers and to the company/stockholders.  Employees, in short, considered the program ‘liberating’ and a way to shape their own work-place destiny.


Due to my constant contributions that led to millions of dollars of savings at GE, I was actually asked to participate on Jack Welch’s Work-Out council at the GE Aerospace Division Level. From my perspective, GE’s Work-Out program was one of the most progressive innovation programs ever created (My perspective on having consulted with, and have insights on, nearly all of the Fortune 100 companies and over half of the Fortune 500 companies). The following is my perspective on the ingredients and recipe for a highly successful innovation program like GE’s Work-Out.

Ingredients for a Successful and Well Balanced Innovation Program:

From my perspective, creating a highly successful hyper-innovation program, similar to that of GE’s Work-Out program, depends on developing a balanced approach of delivering both value to company and sense of purpose & engagement to the employees.  The following charts highlight the balanced scorecard that should be the cornerstone of measuring the health of an innovation program. I call this the eight (8) over eight (8) Innovation Scorecard and, if the eight (8) over eight (8) measures are in balance, then ‘the company will be Great & the Employees will be driven to Innovate’. (The left of chart (Y-Axis) indicates my take on the relative imporance of each of the eight factors).

Employee Ingredients for a Successful and Well Balanced Innovation Program:

Employee Ingredients for a Successful Innovation Program

Let’s review each of these eight ingredients of employee Engagement to determine why they are so important:


  • Employees Feel that the Program is Fair & Consistent – Employees believe that the best innovation ideas are supported vs. those coming from the most popular, powerful or political employees. At GE, we felt very good that the best ideas were more important to management vs. the ideas of the most favored employees/managers.
  • Program participation is fun & exciting – Employees actually feel more content with their jobs and participating in the program is “cool”, “exciting”, “exhilarating”, etc. I never had more fun in a job than when I was participating and contributing to the GE Work-Out program. I actually looked forward to coming to work to find additional savings, ‘better ways’, etc. Additionally, water cooler chat at GE was many times about the excitement and activities of the Work-Out program and ‘what teams were up to’ in developing their ideas.
  • Employee cross-functional innovation teams are encouraged – Employees feel like they can cross organizational boundaries to get ideas developed and evolved without fear of negative inter-organizational political or ‘turf’ ramifications. At GE, when we named the cross-functional team members needed to formulate and evolve an idea, management helped ensure that this cross-functional team was on-board along with each of their managers.
  • Employee Recognition & Rewards are Available for Innovators – Employees are provided incentives & rewards for ‘stepping up’ and developing innovations and, as such, are treated with special/extra compensation for being innovation trailblazers.  At GE, there was an array of special recognitions available to top innovators including dinner with senior management, extra cash awards, mention in the company newsletter, potential level increases, etc. As a top innovator at GE, you could get thousand in additional compensation for innovations and going above and beyond the call of duty associated with your normal job responsibilities.
  • Employees ‘Can Own’ Their Innovations if Selected for Commercialization – Employees can see their ideas and innovations become reality and participate in all aspects of its commercialization process vs. ‘having the company move the idea forward without its originator.  The worst thing a company can do to an employee who ‘birthed the idea’ is to say ‘thank you, we’ll take it from here’ and not allow the employee to participate in helping their innovation evolve and become reality.
  • Program Participation is not Onerous or Cumbersome – Employees should not feel punished or overly burdened for ‘stepping up’ and are not made to feel like they will lose any work-life balance for being an innovator. At GE, extra time was set aside for Work-Out and ‘the innovation process’ vs. making it yet another job everyone had to take on in addition to their existing full-time job.
  • Employees Feel Empowered – Employees should feel like there are no obstacles for them to develop innovations and that they have the latitude equal that of the CEO to make things happen to ensure innovation team success. In this fashion, employees feel like ‘they own’ the program and can direct top management to support their initiatives. At GE, employees were ‘charged up’ and were challenging each other constantly to see which group, team, and/or sets of employees could find more efficiencies, greater cost take-out, or better ways of doing things. Once the employees felt like they ‘could change the world’, no manager would dare to stand in their way in fear of being ridiculed for being archaic, a ‘road block’ or worse – an impediment of the program. The “Coolest” managers were considered those who helped support the teams and were also contributing to finding greater efficiencies themselves.
  • Employees are Provided Encouragement & Support from Management – Employees must feel that innovation is a critical imperative at all levels of management and that top managers are involved, supportive and acting as innovation champions and roadblock removers for all impediments to program & team success. Top management must be totally immersed in, and aware of, the activities, successes, progress and top innovations-innovators associated with the program. At GE, we would receive frequent updates as to what Jack Welch was doing to support and ensure the Work-Out program was a success and clearly articulated that he expected all of his management to do likewise. In one video, he stated ‘I would not want to hear that any of my managers were an impediment to the Work-Out program and the employee innovation teams. We will quickly root out these types of people as they do not represent our future way of doing business.’


Company Ingredients for a Successful and Well Balanced Innovation Program:

In addition to the eight employee factors for a successful innovation program, there must also be well thought out components from a company-program perspective. The following chart depicts the company factors and their relative importance that must also be in place to make an innovation program successful.

Company Ingredients for a Successful Innovation Program

Now, let’s review each of the eight company innovation program factors in-depth to determine why they are so important to the overall success of a program:


  • Innovations are Managed in a Knowledge Base/System – In order to keep track of innovations, who originated the ideas, as well as the associated business cases for proving the commercial value of the innovation, a robust innovation knowledge base/system is needed. This helps to ensure that there are duplicate or overlapping innovations, allows the search for existing innovations that can be leveraged vs. re-inventing it for each division, region, etc. At GE, the process was manual and was very cumbersome.  Many duplicate innovations were created, and it was very difficult to leverage the innovation corporate-wide due to limited (paper based) visibility into innovations ‘in-progress’ or ‘being developed’.
  • A Social Innovation Platform (SIP) Manages the Innovation Process – As discussed in a previous blog entry of mine, many Social Innovation Platforms have been developed that fairly and consistently manage the innovation process. These systems did not exist at the time of the GE Work-Out program, but would have helped in managing the process and could have improved the perceived fairness of the programs administration.  Interestingly enough, GE now utilizes Social Innovation Platforms to manage its innovation process.
  • Management & staff are provided training on developing & nurturing ideas, concepts and innovation – Developing and managing the innovation process is not something that comes naturally for many companies. Therefore, in order for the program to be successful, the company and staff need to learn ‘how to’ manage the process most efficiently and effectively and how to tailor and evolve the program to specific and/or changing needs. At GE, this training was more ad-hoc and on the job, so there were many instances of re-work, false starts, and duplication of effort.  We eventually became good at the innovation process, but a good training program would have helped us avoid many missteps.
  • The Program has clear and consistent program metrics, processes and standards – In order for the program to be perceived fair and consistent by the employees, the program must be managed strategically and program governance (i.e. metrics/measured/processes/etc.) must be continually assessed and adapted for further improvement. At GE, this step was lacking and was only done on an ad-hoc basis and by each division vs. corporate-wide.
  • Innovations are Shared & Leveraged Company-Wide – In order to leverage the value of innovations that could be leveraged company-wide a corporate committee should review emerging innovations to determine the degree that this could be leveraged in order to determine the sum total of its applied business value (applied in one division only, one region, company-wide, etc.).  At GE, every division was on their own and there was seldom sharing of innovations between division (i.e. GE Aerospace and GE Aircraft Engines).
  • Rewards and Incentive Systems are Aligned to Support Hyper-Innovation – In order for an innovation program to be successful, the company alone cannot be the sole beneficiary. The company must share the wealth with the employees by sharing in a portion (1-20%) of the value of suggestion (cost take-out, revenue enhancement, quality improvement leading to additional contract captures, etc.). At GE, we developed a program called RAVE – Recognition Awards for Valued Employees that distributed large sums of incentive $$ for suggesting business innovations/improvements, etc. (Refer to the last section of this blog for examples of this rewards/incentive program).  Without these incentives, large numbers of employees would not have participated in the program and many would have sat on the sideline or would have become program detractors vs. advocates.
  • Innovations Are Value and Metrics Driven (Cost/Revenue/Quality, Employee Work-Life, etc.) – It is important that innovations be developed and ranked based on measures that will provide the greatest quantifiable impact to the company. A system of measurement must then be developed and applied such that every program participant is able to quantify the impact of each innovation and compare it to other innovations already in progress toward commercialization. At GE, this was rudimentary at best and caused a great deal of program inconsistencies where some questionable innovations headed toward implementation while other great ones were nixed early in the process. A consistent/metrics driven program would have avoided many of these pitfalls which led to employees questioning the fairness of the program.
  • Continuous Improvement & Change Management Support Evolving to a Culture of Innovation – In order for the program to thrive longer-term, a program (program oversight for the innovation program) of continuous improvement and change support must be developed and employed. The program must be continually measured, improved, and evolved to address employee and/or company concerns, address program inefficiencies, and to take advantage of new processes, technology or changes in regulation or market directions.  At GE, this was handled by a divisional level Work-Out Council which I was part of at the VP level. As a result of writing a letter to both Jack Welch (CEO) and John D. Rittenhouse (the Aerospace SVP) about continuous improvement, I was appointed to the Work-Out council at the VP Level under Al Horvath (Aerospace VP in Syracuse).  On this Work-Out council we handled the administration of the program along with reviewing all of the developing and/or developed innovations. We were also responsible for reporting up to Senior Management on our progress, issues, roadblocks, top program successes, metrics, etc.


An Innovation Program’s Impact on Shareholder Value:

In my opinion and in speaking to many at GE, the company has slipped since the GE Work-Out days in making the innovation program engaging and ‘fun’ for employees.  Insiders tell me the innovation program is more “black and white” now and driven most by metrics and six-sigma measures and the program “seems flat” and “uninspiring” vs. that of the Work-Out program under Jack Welch.

The following chart depicts how GE’s stock performed before, during and after the height of the Work-Out Program. It is interesting to see that when the GE Work-Out program started to change from its original format and lose some of its employee focus (vs. Six-Sigma statistical focus), the company’s stock value began to erode at about the same time. It seems from this chart and from insider accounts, that GE has lost its recipe for successful hyper-innovation.

Potential Influence of Innovation Programs on Stock Value

Case Studies of Success

The following are all real-life examples of Work-Out, Innovation and Incentive/Reward Program Successes.  These samples illustrate precisely how innovations occur within a company and what makes them successful.

A Successful GE Work-Out Example:

Below is one success case study from GE’s Work-Out that involved many of the above principles:

GE Work Out Success Story & Case Study

One of the many Work-Out Successes I identified while at GE is noted in the above graphic. For years, GE discarded their slight used, but still in good working condition, office furniture by paying to ship it to dumps & landfills.  One day, I passed a dumpster filled with office furniture in really good condition that I could use in my home office. I called the local facilities manager and asked if I could take any of it home and was told “No – we can’t have employees digging around in the dumpsters due to a liability issue. Someone could get hurt and we could get sued”.

Frustrated by this roadblock and always viewing every roadblock as a challenge and opportunity, I went back to my cubicle and said to myself “there has to be a better way – win/win for the company and employees”.  I called around to several salvage yards, 2nd hand stores, and several similar 3rd party companies, etc. and to my amazement; said they would love to take the shipment from GE and would pay cash to GE for the furniture and even allow the employees to buy the furniture at favorable rates vs. the general public.  Once I heard that a solution was possible, I called our facilities manager, Bill Biloski, and told him what I had discovered. He got excited about what I had found out and went off to contact the local firms I had contacted. Bill was able to work out a deal with one local Syracuse, NY firm named “The Riverside Shop” whereby GE would sell the used furniture to them, Riverside would then allow GE employees to buy the furniture at deep discounts – a win/win solution for all. Here is a synopsis of the benefits of the Worked-Out solution I developed:

Work Out Solution Benefits Summary

The following is my perspective on how the eight employee factors were prevalent in this work-out solution:

Employees Ingredients for a Work-Out Innovation Success

Other Innovation Program Examples:

Example – Innovations Submitted via Employee Suggestion Program

Above is my suggestion submitted for the “Better Together” program which Martin Marietta used following its acquisition of GE Aerospace. This program was far less dynamic and successful than the GE Work-Out program due to, in my opinion, a lessening of many of the “eight over eight” factors.

Example – Rewards & Incentives for Innovation, Special Achievement, Extra Efforts, Etc.

Above is my award for developing and delivering on a schedule acceleration plan for a major delivery to the US Navy. The Critical Design Review (“CDR”) was acclaimed as a “huge success” and was instrumental in GE retaining (vs. losing) the multi-million dollar Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) contract GE had with the US Navy.

Example – Innovation Program Complimented by Reward Program (RAVE)

Above illustrates my participation on the development of an employee rewards & incentive system to compliment GE’s Work-Out program.  I led this team to the development of what was called the “Recognition Awards for Valued Employees” or RAVE program.  Awards were distributed via this program to the most valuable contributors to the GE Work-Out program. 

Example – Award for Innovation & Excellence on GE Contract Delivery

Above is my award for making the Aegis Ship Software Qualification Tests (SQTs) a success for both GE and the US Navy.   The Tactical Load File (“TLF”) search tool mentioned above resolved some critical software anomalies that would have degraded ship safety and prevented the ship to safely fire its missiles.

Example – Reward for ‘Extra Effort’ and Going Above & Beyond

Above is my award for developing and delivering on a Prime Item Development Specification (“PIDS”) for a Nuclear submarine program to the US Navy. The PIDS was deemed “out of compliance” by the US Navy and I led a team to turn-around the quality of that deliverable into what was deemed as “exceptional” by the US Navy Top Brass. This was instrumental in GE retaining (vs. losing) the multi-million dollar submarine contract with the US Navy.

Recent GE Logo History

GE’s recent logo changes: Subtle changes vs. dramatic re-design & re-invention.  It is interesting to note that when GE was changing its logo from its 1986 to the 2003 design, John D. Rittenhouse, the then SVP of the Aerospace business, told Jack Welch: ‘Even you are having problems with this change thing – after all of the effort to re-design our logo, all you did was round off the corners a bit’.

Conclusion – The bottom line here is that getting innovation right is a tricky recipe to duplicate and all of the right ingredients must be present for the program to be considered 5-star.  If a company does not find the right mix to the recipe, a great deal of time and resources can be expended for a very questionable gain. It is clear that GE during Jack Welch’s tenure, GE perfected the ingredients and the results of the Master Chefs (employees and management) was a gourmet dish of higher profits, higher revenue and higher stock value. GE Work Out Clearly Worked!

Developing Breakaway Competitive Advantage via Social Innovation Platforms (SIPs)

Part Three (of 3) – Leveraging Social Innovation Platforms (SIPs – a.k.a. innovation management, social suggestion boxes or crowd sourcing applications) to transform your company into an innovation leader

In my previous two blogs I covered the first two of three mega-trends that are hitting the social media marketplace for large Fortune level organizations.  In the first blog, I addressed how the use of enterprise social monitoring and intelligence platforms are helping companies leverage key insights from an array of market activity and major trends including competitor activity & weaknesses, key opinion leader sentiment/needs, regulator trends and concerns, political leader and influencer sentiment, public opinion and key public concerns.  In my last blog (2 of 3 in the series), I covered how Enterprise Collaboration Platforms are changing how teams communicate and interact in order to boost corporate productivity.

This third blog in the series is dedicated to a social media trend hitting corporate America that focuses on Social Innovation Platforms (SIPs). This trend has the ability to transform companies into a leader in innovation, enabling them to leapfrog their competition in much the same way Google and Apple have out-innovated many of their competitors. A full 83% percent of respondents in this year’s Bloomberg/Business Week/Boston Consulting Group (BCG) annual survey of top executives said innovation will be a key part of their strategy to benefit from the economic recovery¹. While companies might hire innovators, in order for them to be successful there needs to be a very robust methodology, culture, and process that support these executive innovators.   This blog is focused on a new category of tools that are designed to achieve this culture of innovation.  In the same format as my previous two blogs, I will cover this subject as follows:

A) What is a SIP or Social Innovation Platform (a.k.a. social suggestion box)
B) What are the benefits from using an SIP
C) What are the hottest tools/applications in the marketplace
D) How do you implement this SIP capability

A) What is a Social Innovation Platform (SIP) or Social Suggestion Box?

An SIP is a social media application that allows the sourcing of innovative ideas, content, suggestions and inventions from an array of sources including internal company departments and employees (internal innovation/idea sourcing) and from external stakeholders, customers and experts (external innovation, content, or idea sourcing).  Think of a company suggestion box on steroids and on the global web – that is what a SIP is. Has your company had your SIP of hyper-innovation, thus allowing you to utterly leapfrog your competition? If not, the rest of this blog is a MUST READ for you!

These platforms are designed to increase intra-corporate idea & innovation collaboration, decrease time to market, and to enhance overall corporate productivity. There are two types of Social Innovation Platforms – internal and external. The platforms that source ideas and insights from the general public  are typically called crowd sourcing solutions, but can also be called idea sourcing, idea & insights cultivation, etc.  A SIP can radically change your corporate culture to be more innovative, change oriented, enable out-of-the box thinking and greatly enhance your ability to create great content/ideas/insights/innovative products/services, patents, etc.
The following illustrates the key features and capabilities of a best-of-breed SIP platform:

Social Innovation Platform (SIP) Key Features:

1) Internal & External Idea Sourcing Web Portal
2) Idea & Innovation Content Management with full innovation library taxonomy
3) Online Innovation Community Creation – both internal and external
4) Collaboration on ideas in order to rank, improve, and evolve sourced content and ideas
5) Idea rating, scorecarding, ranking – makes creating and managing ideas easy by enabling the simple management of ‘evaluation teams’ by offering functionality like simple to use workflows, multiple round scorecarding, and idea insight sharing
6) Manages and merges ideas into business proposals & business cases
7) Social project management  to manage and track idea borne projects while monitoring and reporting on the financial value/impact of the overall innovation pipeline

B) What are the benefits – Why are companies, organizations and government agencies adopting social innovation platforms capabilities?

The following list represents just a few of the benefits of implementing an SIP or social suggestion box:

1) Accelerates the participation of Stakeholder and Customers in your Innovation Process – Allows you to Inform your customers about your challenges, encourages them submit, discuss and evaluate great ideas, with ratings and incentives for the top contributions

2) Enables the sourcing of high-impact and game changing business concepts, ideas, suggestions, and product enhancements – from both internal and external sources

3) Boosts the number and quality of incremental ideas – enabling for the development of a culture of innovation within your company or organization

4) Facilitates the process of researching or getting a patent on your sourced ideas by systemically managing and elevating only those ideas that are commercially viable

5) Optimizes the process to systematically manage the flow of business proposals – this can be from ideas sourced internally or from start-up companies and partners

6) Improves ROI on R&D spend by enabling business process environment to create, manage and vet ideas and innovations

7) Motivates key contributors – Motivates your employees by providing a transparent and easy way to handle idea management. Employees feel empowered to submit ideas and innovations in this highly transparent environment.

‘8) Empowers Teams and Departments – Encourages team empowerment and contributions and inter-departmental cooperation on ideas, innovations, patents, etc.

9) Delivers increased Control over Intellectual Property and Digital Assets – Single/integrated environment for innovation, idea and idea proposal/business case management

10) Increases the appetite for increased intra-organizational change and the appetite for innovation and entrepreneurialism. Complimentary to this is the need to support the implementation of an SIP with a heavy dose of change management as this implementation represents a paradigm shift in the organization’s appetite and acceptance of change (pace of, rewards for, change agent & innovator recognition, etc. )

11) The overall goal of the increased innovation derived from these SIP is to decrease the time to market with products and services that have increased market relevance and can leapfrog the competition in terms of market demand. 

C) What are the hottest tools/applications on the SIP or Intra-Social Application market?

Almost all SIPs are relatively new to the marketplace and few have been deployed to several Fortune-500 level companies.

Leading SIP Software Vendor & Tools – Includes Idea Management and Crowd Sourcing Applications

1) Brightidea Innovation Suite. Included in this solution are the Brightidea’s WebStorm, Switchboard and Pipeline modules. The Suite combines enhanced idea collection functionality in WebStorm and proposal management and development in Switchboard and social idea/innovation management in Pipeline. Leading multi-national companies including Cisco, Wyeth, American Express, Kraft, Sony, Bayer, British Telecom, etc,  use Brightidea software to execute targeted internal campaigns to solicit ideas and feedback from employees on everything from new product development to cost saving and process improvement ideas. Cross-functional and inter-departmental brainstorming is possible through a software platform that is similar in nature to Facebook and enables companies to monitor the process of innovation and socialization from concept to monetization. Brightidea software not only concentrates on the front end of idea collection/prioritization that creates an idea repository & management environment for ideas across organization and departments, but also offers a systematic, streamlined way to turn ideas into actionable & ROI driven business proposals. These proposals can then be prioritized within the organization that facilitates ‘best idea maturation’ and delivers on what matters most, measurable business ROI and results. Strengths of this solution/company include:
a. Well established company with over 10 years of experience
b. Constantly innovating and improving their platform and solutions
c. Many top tier clients have implemented their solution

2) Chaordix Chaordix is a crowdsourcing solution that began in 2006 and began as a crowdsourcing community to discover new business and technology ideas. It attracted 55,000+ members and several thousands of ideas from the crowd.  The Chaordix crowdsourcing platform is a proven, flexible engine to tap communities for vital business insights to innovate, improve operations, and reduce the risks of competing in the marketplace. Chaordix software makes it simple to seek, manage and analyze input from a crowd. What sets the Chaordix technology apart is its proven scalability to handle large crowds, ability to mitigate bias in voting and crowd behavior, and social networking sophistication that helps to engage both similar and disparate crowds. Strengths of this solution/company include:
a. Well established company with over 10 years of experience
b. Very scalable and flexible platform – able to scale to large & complex crowdsourcing requirements
c. Leadership team provide deep thought leadership in innovation management

3) Cognistreamer. CogniStreamer® is an idea management software solution.  CogniStreamer® Innovation Portal is an open innovation and collaboration platform where internal colleagues and external stakeholders align to create, enrich and assess innovative ideas within strategically selected ‘category’ topics. Their downstream analysis, ability to direct conversations within the platform and integration with e-mail and other outside systems is reportedly best-in-class. The CogniStreamer® portal module is an ideal collaborative and management platform that invites users to actively build a strong idea & innovation pipeline. In addition, it provides a powerful resource for internal and external knowledge collaboration and sharing. The CogniStreamer® framework module is used by companies that include Atlas Copco, Bekaert, Case New Holland, Cytec, Imec, Picanol and ThyssenKrupp.  Strengths of this solution/company include:
a. Very capable senior leadership team w/10+ years of experience
b. Smooth graphical look and feel
c. Leading methods and approaches on cultivating innovation

4) Hype Software – HypeIMT.  HypeIMT is a leading software solution for idea and innovation management supporting the entire new product development process from idea development to the commercialization of a new product. This product also offers a systematic process for capturing, rating, comparing, and selecting ideas to ensure only the most viable ideas receive project funding. Flexible and customizable, HypeIMT allows companies to custom design the innovation management process, in order that it will support an array of very specific product development strategies. Several of the Global Fortune 500 companies, including General Electric and Procter & Gamble, are already utilizing HypeIMT to manage their Innovation process.  Strengths of this solution/company include:
a. Well established company with over 10 years of experience
b. Well established customer base
c. Privately held German company, but profitable since inception

5) IdeaScale  IdeaScale is another leading crowdsourcing solution and enables ways for companies to solicit ideas and allow customers to rate, discuss, and brainstorm ideas for the company.  The process commences with ideas being posted within the IdeaScale community. Every idea submitted can be expanded via comments and additional insights from each of the participants of the community. Through a voting system, the ultimate value of an idea is determined by participating voters, while also allowing people to share their opinions and insights as to why the idea, in their opinion, will or won’t be successful. Via this voting system, any idea can be voted to the top of list or de-valued down to the bottom of the list of ideas. Companies using IdeaScale include Subaru, Choice Hotels, Wired Magazine, Boy Scouts, Reuters and Fiserv Risk and Compliance Solutions.  Strengths of this solution/company include:
a. Relatively inexpensive solution – can be used by smaller businesses
b. Mobile application allows submitting of ideas ‘on-the-go’
c. IdeaScale made Inc. magazine’s list of the fastest-growing private companies.

6) Imaginatik –  A core component of Imaginatik’s solution is an module called Idea Central. Idea Central is a web-based application designed to help organizations maximize the benefits from the creativity, expertise, insights and ideas of employees, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders and even third parties. Imaginatik’s solution also includes a idea portfolio monitoring function for Idea Central, a module that can be customized to provide project leaders, managers and ‘idea participants’ the ability to track ideas as they mature from raw idea to potential commercialization candidate. Portfolio Monitor offers community users visibility into current and past ‘idea projects’, allowing stakeholders to track the progress of their ideas. Portfolio Monitor also allows the conversion of ideas from Idea Central into other project management tools in order to facilitate the seamless flow for transitioning ideas that escalate into full commercialization projects. Imaginatik has provided Innovation and idea management solutions to companies such as The Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, Boeing, Pfizer, Xerox, World Bank, Goodyear and Cargill. Strengths of this solution/company include:
a. Well established company with over 10 years of experience
b. Strong consulting background with an proven ability to help clients become more innovative (i.e. help clients capture ROI from the solution)
c. Many best practices has been derived from experience on large international clients

7) Spigit –   Spigit is a leading provider of collective idea management software, connecting employees, customers, business partners and other 3rd parties for collaborative innovation development. Spigit is used by several of the Fortune 500 companies as a means of combining crowdsourcing and social networking to source ideas, rate and mature ideas with the highest potential, and then promote only the best ideas to implement and commercialize. A very innovative aspect of the solution, Spigit also includes a literal idea marketplace whereby company employees can buy and sell shares of ideas. Spigit customers include AT&T, Lloyds Bank, Allstate, New York City and over 100 other companies. External recommendations for Spigit include CIO Magazine’s list of 20 companies to watch in 2011 and JMP Securities hot 100 private companies for 2011. Strengths of this solution/company include:
a. Recent to the market but with slightly more innovative approach to idea management
b. Very strong list of top-tier clients
c. They have strong financial support ensuring they will likely to continue to be a main contender over the next several years

Niche & Specialty SIP Software Vendor & Tools (Sample)

The companies below are considered niche players in the SIP market in that they source very specific innovations and content from vendors, customers and stakeholders.

1) Brand Tags Brand Tags is an interesting concept in that it solicits people via the internet to tag associated words that come to their mind when they think of a particular brand/product/service. Responses are then compiled into ‘tag clouds’ displays that reports back which words are thought of most often. To date, Brand Tags thousands of companies have participated in this ‘brand tagging’ and there are now ~2 million tags on their website.

2) CrowdSpring CrowdSpring assembles and leverages a large community of creative designers to provide an effective, easy and relatively inexpensive logo and custom graphics design service for smaller businesses and organizations. Persons can post design projects or copywriting projects, specify the price range they are willing to pay and then choose from a wide range of concepts/ideas/designs submitted from the CrowdSpring design community around the world. On average, there are more than one hundred submissions per project. The price paid for crowd designed logos or taglines start from around $200 USD.

3) CustomAdart CustomAdart asks a crowd of creative professionals to develop your perfect image at the price range you set. This concept is allowing companies to migrate away from the traditional stock photography model by allowing advertisers to post specifications for very custom and specific shots and then getting community members to submit their best images/graphics/photos to satisfy the desired specifications.

4) Fellowforce was founded to connect organizations to an array of high quality ideas, innovation and solutions. aims to open up organizations to outside participation from experts, consumers, and other interested parties to generate powerful new innovations and solutions via networked innovation via collaboration. enables open innovation, idea generation and problem solving to a multitude of organizations worldwide. This is the first open platform that covers a very diverse set of business areas such as business & strategy, human resources, marketing, sales, customer service, innovation process management, design, engineering, IT, and supply chain.

5) InnoCentive  InnoCentive is based on a straightforward concept in that, if a company is unable to solve a problem on its own, why not use the power of the Internet to see if other Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) can solve the problem? This concept has resulted in the establishment of the world’s first open innovation marketplace with a global network of ~200,000 ‘problem solvers’. In this network, you can find engineers, scientists, inventors, and business people with expertise in life sciences, physics, engineering, biology, chemistry, math, marketing, human resources and computer science. Companies can post their challenges and problems on the InnoCentive website, and offer registered problem ‘solvers’ substantial financial awards for the best submitted solutions.  Problem solvers compete to win monetary prizes offered by various companies. Over 1,000 challenges have been posted thus far by nearly 200 firms, including large/global companies such as Procter & Gamble.

6) Philoptima, llc. Philoptima, llc.™ enables foundations, donors, and grant makers to describe a challenge to the idea community and to post cash prizes to incentivize ‘idea solvers’ to solve the issue put forth. This collaborative system facilitates participants coming together to collaborate and solve a wide variety of community and public interest related problems by connecting consultants, researchers, and subject matter experts that offer best-in-class solutions via a web-based open innovation community.

7) Poptent  Simply stated, Poptent enables crowdsourcing for advertisements.  Poptent is a relatively new start-up that solicits crowdsourced advertising ideas and content from an array of global creative talent. The company brings together a vibrant community of filmmakers, actors, comedians, graphic artists, animators and then connects them with companies who need their advertisement creative services. Companies and/or brands can post their requests for an advertisement or specific ad content, which is then developed and submitted by Poptent’s pool of global creative advertising talent – all via a robust web collaborative crowdsource application.

‘8) ThinkTank4  ThinkTank4 is a social collaboration & idea management platform that is used primarily by larger consulting companies. ThinkTank4 is a structured collaboration platform for professional services which enables content sharing, project collaboration and best practice/intellectual property management. ThinkTank aims to increase profitability by enabling consultants to deliver more client value via reduced cycle time and reduced manual effort.

D) How do you implement this capability – what are the steps and considerations on implementing this capability within your organization and company?

Social Media innovation platform (SIP) implementation success requires comprehensive visioning; with stepwise implementation, guided both by an innovation paradigm shift & culture change, roadmap and integrated project plan.
I have developed this capability for several Fortune 500 companies and the capability can be enabled via four (4) Major steps as follows (Summarized):

1) Step #1: Develop an innovation culture prior to implementing the SIP in order that the automated process will not be met with resistance. This includes the following:
a) Re-engineer performance metrics and employee KPIs to recognize and reward the most innovative within the company
b) Develop pre-automation innovation contests
c) Develop an innovation newsletter and intra-net site
d) Put forth innovation or idea generation challenges with substantial rewards and visibility from upper management to the top participants and winners
The bottom line here is that, if you don’t have an innovative company culture, implementation of a SIP will likely lead to shelf-ware and a system very few utilize to its full potential.

2) Step #2: Develop a SIP Implementation Strategy & Roadmap including the following:
a) SIP  Strategy/Vision, Objectives, Business Drivers, Critical Success Factors, Community/ Forum Listening Strategy, Key Metrics & Performance Plan, Organizational Plan, Change Management Plan, Communications & Risk Management Plan, monitoring policies, governance plan
b) Put together an implementation roadmap and a centralized PMO to manage the implementation of the roadmap/SIP vision
c) Form your SIP strategy & vision with key stakeholders

3) Step #3: Social Media Technology Platform Evaluation & Selection
a) Identify potential SIP platform & community management vendors
b) Develop Needed SIP Requirements and Capabilities
c) Perform Technology Platform Vendor Selection
d) Onboard Vendor
e) Build a techno-functional architecture to support the roadmap

4) Step #4: Develop SIP Program Pilots & Deployment Plan
a) Develop Pilot Project & Deployment Plan
b) Develop SIP management processes that provide organizational confidence and exercise process excellence transparency to solidify user/stakeholder buy-in and acceptance.
c) Develop Technology Pilots
d) Develop  Program Pilots
e) Invest in Organizational change management to instill solid user/stakeholder adoption
f) Develop Organization & Process Pilots
g) Deploy Pilots and Programs including
1.  Center of Excellence Deployment
2.  Multi-Channel Integration
3.  Policies/Processes
4.  Roles, Rules, Responsibilities
5.  Change Management, Change Management, Change Management

That last bullet point is not a typo as I would honestly say that the #1 key to success in implementing this type of software is an extremely capable change management program. This type of software requires a behavior change on the part of your employees and management and it won’t come easily.   I can say this with confidence – If you are not considering a heavy dose of change management as part of this implementation, your implementation is most likely going to fail!

In summary, SIPs are gaining a great deal of Momentum.  Many Fortune 500 companies are either planning to implement this enterprise capability or already have.  Is your organization planning on implementing this potentially game-changing capability? If so, give me a call at 518-339-5857, as  I call help you achieve world-class programs that enable you to surpass your competition and bring your organization or agency to the next level of innovation.


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