Guide to posting an innovation challenge

Putting innovation challenges to your employees is an effective way of generating creative solutions to a specific problem and triggering original responses to a particular opportunity.

Hugo Lakin
by Hugo Lakin
Posting an innovation challenge

Every business faces challenges and sometimes it just requires a different perspective. Crowdsourcing ideas is a cost effective way of solving these problems and gathering invaluable insights. To get the most out of your crowdsourcing initiative and to ensure structured, appropriate responses, it is advisable to post an innovation challenge. Whether you choose to share your challenge internally or whether you employ an open innovation strategy, the same guidelines will apply.

Internal and external innovation

Through innovation challenges, problem solving is gamified and therefore converted into a more engaging experience for those involved. Sharing a challenge within your organisation is a fantastic way of injecting innovation energy into the workplace culture, as well as increasing transparency between senior and lower level staff. Employees can be aligned to the same strategic objectives and have the opportunity to provide unprecedented insight into parts of the organisation that senior managers may not be familiar with.

Crowdsourcing does not need to remain inside the confines of your internal resources. Great people and great ideas are evenly distributed, both inside and outside of your organisation. In a digital landscape, these people are all connected, or have the potential to be connected. Accordingly, open innovation is the smart strategy for a networked world and to connect you to the smartest innovators on the planet.

Set clear objectives

When posting an innovation challenge, ensure that the problem is crystal clear. Align the challenge with relevant strategic objectives and establish how a solution will help the business to achieve its goals. Ultimately, the key is to frame the challenge in terms of the value and impact it could potentially bring to the company once solved. Furthermore, don’t forget to set a deadline in order to encourage speedy responses and add structure to the process.

Posting an innovation challenge

Be specific, narrow the scope and avoid overcomplicating the proposition. Within Idea Drop there is a character limit on ideas and challenges – a smart way to ensure concise wording. Challenges should include the essential information whilst remaining short and snappy. Being able to convey a point within a limited number of words is a great skill to have. 


An innovation challenge is no use to anyone if nobody knows about it. Broadcast the brief to your intended audience and include a reward to spark conversation. Throughout the process, it is crucial to motivate and incentivise participants to engage. Maximise awareness with our intuitive Idea Drop tools that send push notifications to stakeholders and customised email alerts. It has never been easier to generate awareness and reach the audience.

Broadcast innovation challenge

You will also need to decide on your audience. Perhaps you are looking to reach the widest possible audience in order to generate a wide array of responses. Alternatively, you may want to target a specific group of people – this is made simple with Idea Drop, which allows you to create sub-communities and select varying permissions. Sharing a challenge with a group of people you may not usually have approached is a fantastic way of generating different perspectives, opening up the field for some great inputs and insights.

Include relevant resources

In order to make your innovation challenge as clear and unambiguous as possible, provide accompanying resources where appropriate. Can the issue be illustrated visually with an image? Is there a relevant blog article you can link to that will push people in the right direction? Attach media files and seamlessly integrate links, @mentions and #hashtags using Idea Drop to further refine challenges.


Whether your innovation challenge is internal or external, providing consistent feedback to contributors is key to maintaining an enthusiastic pool of talented innovators. Internally, this will involve collaboration between colleagues and interaction with ideas. With open innovation, supply regular updates on the process and thank those who have taken the time to participate.

Responding to innovation challenges

Customers and partners who have provided input need to feel listened to in order to encourage future collaborations. Do not be afraid to ask questions in response to ideas. If the solutions suggested end up being a success then let them know. Importantly, reward the innovator whose idea solved your challenge – as open innovation is public, others will see this commitment and will be more prepared to contribute next time around.

Key Takeaways

  • Crowdsource from both inside and outside of your organisation to generate different perspectives and a wider spectrum of ideas.
  • Align challenges with business objectives and be clear on exactly what the problem is and how a solution will benefit the company.
  • Ensure that your innovation challenge reaches the right people and triggers substantial participation.
  • Offer feedback, recognition and rewards to motivate participants, incentivise collaborators and thank successful innovators.

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