This week I had the pleasure of attending a Brightidea (https://www.brightidea.com/) “Birds of a Feather” event in Zurich. A pleasure clearly, why, simply because it turned out differently than I had expected. Let me explain.
I have a tendency to be wary of claims or statements like “global leaders in innovation management” and “driven more success than any other innovation management solution provider” as it is hard to validate that from simply what I can read on Brightidea’s website, or through verification of independent research. What can be said as a growing validation though is that they are clearly being increasingly recognised by many global customers as an important platform contributor to their collaborative innovation process.
Brightidea certainly have a growing list of major companies using their product and recently must have benefitted hugely from hosting General Electric’s Ecomagination Challenge, (http://challenge.ecomagination.com/ideas). It is a global challenge that seeks ideas from the public for the next big Smart Grid innovation. That has had huge publicity value I’m sure but it is often “the quietest voices”, a comment by Matt Greeley, the CEO, “that are most probably doing the most interesting things” in innovation activities. Brightidea does have an impressive list of companies using their products across Insurance, Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Publishing, Hardware, Software, Banking, Electronics, Telecommunications, Utilities, Consumer Products, Financial Institutions, Manufacturing.
The Birds of a Feather is not (thankfully) a sales event. It was and is a good peer-to-peer set of conversations structured around different innovation issues, that the attendee’s could gain from, by taking different perspectives away to simply add to their own thinking. It helped mine. It is set in an informal environment where you could touch base with a broad group of innovation doers, thinkers & practitioners. All we had at the end was a really brief overview of the next step in the Brightidea Product Roadmap, simple, logical and bite-sized well stated by Matt Greeley.
This is not a blog endorsing Brightidea, that is not the intension. It is pointing out the value of the way Brightidea went about the day. I was able to use their product before, it is quick and easy to navigate around to understand and for the event you can suggest ideas that might be considered for discussion, others didn’t do that, which was a pity as it gave me a certain feel that I felt was useful.
I was able to listen, to participate and to talk around the subjects that were led by invited speakers at this event which mostly were coming from the suggestions open to us on the idea platform. As one speaker suggested as essential to any flow is “having fluid resources around the ideas”. We achieved that in the diverse discussions. Nicely put together to ‘form’ opinion around with such a diverse group.
The host for the day was UBS, a client of Brightidea, and I got an awful lot out of their presentation about the present state of UBS, in its recovery after some recently damaging times in the banking crisis. Ideas are a good barometer of contribution to the health and well being of an organisation, and listening to their recent really healthy uptick in employee’s engaging on the idea generation site was excellent to hear. The team led by Reto Wey have been through some tough times but as they took the grass roots approach to this introduction within the organisation.
I can begin to see the benefits from all the seeding that needed to happen to get the eventual traction they seemingly are and it is good that ideas are really flowing again. They have plans to take this beyond the internal organization through partners and clients and I got the impression the value to UBS will begin to be seen increasingly. My only worry is the engagement at the top of UBS, so they can understand the real value of this in its potential value. This needs grasping some more from my impression but increasing positive results will always get ‘higher’ attention.
The team have learnt ‘quietly’ about the culture needed, the structure and how to communicate in a large organisation, largely at a time of enormous volatility and uncertainty. They are well equipped to reinvigorate the value of ideas coming from engaged employees and partners and that augers well for UBS.
Within one breakout session I was part of, we were talking through the value proposition for crowd sourcing, what are the different roadblocks and the potential levers to remove these roadblocks. Some of the contributions made within my group I really liked for developing the value proposition to help give it personal meanings and needed involvement by all within organizations, let me share them:
- “WE are smarter than ME”
- “The dynamics are inside the mass”
- “We are all creative beasts, we need to release it”
- “We need to harness beyond the daily job”
- “There is a necessity for (fullfilling) a greater potential”
- “A sense of identity and personal contribution”
- “Ideas are not just simply asking form something more, it is asking for something different”.
- “The gain for all is leveraging our diversity”.
- “To harness the ‘mass’ of people to make change”
I did like some of these. Each of the groups gave different views on their own thoughts to resolve these challenges and it is always interesting what does come out of these breakout sessions, as well as in the discussions that followed directly from these different view points.
The whole day was certainly a positive one for me, I came away positive that it was a day well spent, a day nicely put together by the Brightidea team in a format that worked. Of course what I would have liked was more time to chat, explore, discuss each of the areas we touched upon as we struggled to stay on the time schedule set all day. It was only by the contributorss being flexible and still achieving a good balance in this constant flow and adaptation without any sense of pressure, to allow both the speakers as well as the attendees to have their say and simply let the dialogue simply flow.
Good ideas were certainly exchanged at this event and from my point of view Brightidea can add a further feather to their cap in creating the ideal environment to allow ideas to flow, perhaps ‘quietly’ in their low key approach but showing that a diverse set of collective voices can come up with some interesting things to exchange in this type of relaxed atmosphere.
I certainly left with a very positive attitude, if they lead through engagements like this one; Brightidea can be well positioned to be a good force in accelerating innovation and justify some of their claims in leading.