There is an art to creating compelling challenges that engage users and generate ideas. Here are a few tips we've learned from years of helping organizations craft their challenges:
What is a challenge?
A challenge is simply a question, topic or conversation starter to gather insights, ideas and feedback from your people. Challenges are at the heart of HunchBuzz. You guide the discussion with compelling questions to get people engaged and thinking. Challenges can be:
- Broad or specific topics
- Time-limited or open-ended
- Available to everyone or specific groups
- “What’s the one thing you would change if you were CEO?”
- "How do we work in a more environmentally friendly way?”
- “What's the next amazing product idea?”
Make it interesting
People have a thousand things to do in their work days so if you want to capture their attention you need make it interesting. An overly generic challenge might not prompt a specific response, and something too detailed may not generate a lot of activity.
A good rule of thumb is to think about social media discussion threads and what gets picked up and what doesn't. Sometimes it may pay to be a little provocative or to have some fun with the topic, e.g. instead of asking for "Ideas for policy improvements" present is as “What’s the one thing you would change if you were CEO for a day?”
Tell people about it
You could have the best, most interesting challenges in the world but no one knows about them. As with any initiative you need to let people know about it. When creating a challenge you also need to create a communication plan:
- What is the "catchment" group for this challenge?
- Who else needs to know about it?
- How long will the challenge run?
- What is the outcome you're looking for?
- What will happen to the ideas once the challenge has run?
- Is there a place for rewards and incentives for the creators of the successful ideas?
- How will you communicate the results from the challenge?
People will vote on ideas and create comment threads but to gather a more nuanced response you should consider defining review metrics so users can articulate their responses more clearly through a five star voting system.
You can create any number of individual attributes or metrics for every challenge e.g. for a workplace improvement challenge you might define “Environmental impact”, Social impact” and “Cost effectiveness” as metrics to be evaluated.
How many challenges should I have?
There's no right or wrong answer but an oversupply of challenges can dilute activity so it’s always better to limit the number, define an end date (so there’s something to compel action), and make sure admins are triaging the ideas and actively managing them through the idea stages.
Or declining them. Declining an idea is an affirmative action as it shows the idea was considered and valued.
So it's better to have fewer challenges to focus attention and then work actively to manage the idea stage flow so people see action and reward for their efforts.
Should I require structured responses to my challenges?
Once again it depends on your organizational style and culture, but we find that requiring ideas to be formatted in a certain way or provide certain data points - e.g. you must provide a detailed costing for your idea to move to xyz stage - typically restricts interaction and idea generation.
We encourage customers to take an open and less rigid approach to encourage people to participate and contribute - you can always tighten criteria later if you need to, but it's hard to attract people back if they've been put off by overly restrictive requirements.
How do I know I "have it right"
There's no right or wrong way to set challenges. You need to experiment with different approaches to see what works best in your organization.
A handy way to view the overall health of your platform is to view the Idea Lifecycle stats on your admin dashboard (see below). HunchBuzz calculates a conversion rate (ratio of new ideas to completed/declined status) and innovation velocity (proportion of ideas that have progressed beyond the entry stage) to help you determine platform health.
So the example below is showing 16% of ideas have moved through the process and been brought to an outcome of some sort, while 48% of ideas have progressed beyond the entry stage. Higher is better for both metrics.
See Creating Idea Stages for more info on how to configure.
We also provide a number of reports to help you analyze activity across the platform, users, idea and achievements.
"The way to get good ideas..."
American industrialist Linus Pauling said "The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away." and that approach is at the core of HunchBuzz. You want to generate as many ideas and responses as you can to uncover the gems.
The only way to craft great challenges is by experimenting to see what works, what generates the most traction and interest. There's no right or wrong thing to do but follow these simple steps and you should be on the way to a culture of successful idea generation.