Make Innovation Everybody's Business

3 ways of getting ideas: Gather, Hunt and Create

Most organisations have unrealised potentials for collaborative innovation. Here is a framework for getting ideas for innovation at scale.

A fundamental component to innovating at scale in large organisations, lies in your approach to ideas. Because you are going to need lots of them. But where do the ideas come from? Do they already exist out there? Do you need to unearth them? Are they so abundant that you just need to go and pick them up. Do you need to create them? To help you get a better grasp of this, allow us to introduce a simple framework for getting ideas. We call it Gather, Hunt and Create. 

A framework for ideas: 
Think about the hunter-gatherer society. In that age, tribes would feed and grow on what was available around them. Some would gather plants. Others would hunt for animals.  In the same way, companies also gather and hunt for ideas. If companies do not believe that the ideas for their next innovation are ‘out there’, there is a third path, and that is to create ideas. 

  1. Gather ideas: “The ideas are already pushing at our gates, we just need to open up”
  2. Hunt ideas: “The ideas are already out there, we just have to find them”
  3. Create ideas: “The ideas are not out there. They have to be created from scratch or combined from existing ones.”

Let’s take a look at how these three models work in relation to actual examples of corporate collaborative innovation.

gather Gather
“The ideas are already pushing at our gates, we just need to open up.”

Do you have lots of stakeholders engaged in your product or company? Good news! The ideas are already out there. You just need to grab them. They can come from the public, from your employees and other stakeholders. Examples include platforms for user driven idea generation from brands that have a very strong pull. LEGO is a great example of this. Their customers are so engaged with the product, that new idea creation basically happens by itself. The ideas are almost pushing in at the gates of the company’s headquarters in Billund, and they’ve opened up.

Screenshot 2016-03-09 12.31.52

LEGO’s open idea platform

LEGO have had more than 15,000 projects submitted by fans all over the world. Another example is Starbucks. They have crowdsourced more than 200,000 ideas on”My Starbucks Idea“. Companies can also open up to ideas from their employees, by setting up idea boxes for different themes and product lines. Here at Nosco, we take our own medicine. We’ve set up a box called “Product ideas”, where we share and discuss new ideas to make our platform better. We’ve also introduced an idea box called “News Wire”. Here we share news about our field and our world. These act as always open idea boxes for our product and consulting teams. 

Screenshot 2016-03-09 15.21.18 Internal idea boxes on Nosco’s own idea platform


“The ideas are already out there, we just have to find them.”

Hunters know where to look, they know what to hunt, and often they know what to do with the catch, once it’s brought back home. The same goes for hunting ideas.

Screenshot 2016-03-16 12.32.52 An example of this is our client, Billabong. Management from the famous surfer brand wanted to make the most out of the upcoming Christmas period. As you can imagine, the festive season equates to a lot of extra customers in their 55 stores across Australia. They also knew that some members of their personnel were absolute experts in the art of “upselling”.  Therefore, they launched an idea campaign aimed at all the employees, asking them how they did this. Their call for ideas was simply to share the best practices for upselling during the festive season. In other words, management at Billabong knew what ideas they were hunting for, they knew when to hunt for them, and they knew where to hunt for those ideas. create


“The ideas are not out there. They have to be created.”

New ideas and new creations are seen as the poster child of innovation. Brilliant ideas are often attributed to a “eureka-moment” of one genius. Think Einstein, Newton or Jobs.  However, creativity can also happen at scale if you setup the right conditions for it. To trigger these types of ideas, you have to spark peoples imaginations. The good news is that you have a free and powerful tool at hand, that sparks invention like nothing else. That tool is constraints. Constraints are behind succesful innovations, such as Google’s design, Audi’s Le Mans victories and Mick Jagger’s trademark dance (yes). 

If you can find, isolate and describe such a constraint somewhere in your business and you can communicate it as a challenge,  it is time run an idea campaign.

The tools are there, the needs are there, and the ideas are there. And if the ideas aren’t there, we’ll create them along the way. Here’s to the hope that this post has been thought-provoking, maybe even idea-provoking, and that you can be step on your organisation’s path to realising the full potential for collaborative innovation. Do you gather, hunt or create ideas? We would be keen to hear how you do this or plan to do this, so feel free to get in touch.

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