Innovation Topic of the Day: The Suggestion Box

by

Chest Of Coins Blank For Copy Space

When looking for new ideas, companies are increasingly turning to their customers and their employees through open innovation initiatives. The core of the idea isn’t new, there have been suggestion boxes around for ages. The suggestion boxes of today tend to be online and can range from a “black hole” system where an idea is submitted and the person submitting it has no expectation of getting a response, to highly interactive forums where communities of users self-curate ideas though voting.

One successful implementation of this approach is My Starbucks Idea (MSI). MSI uses the Salesforce platform to allow customers to submit, track, and vote on ideas. Starbucks has implemented many of them, including providing the little green “splash sticks” that keep coffee from sloshing out of your cup and many features of the popular Starbucks Rewards program.

MSI gives customers an outlet to share their ideas (and frustrations) with a community of similar people and folks at Starbucks who are open to the input. It allows Starbucks to identify opportunities to make their stores and products more appealing to their customers.

The fascinating part of this story is that MSI has now entered its sixth year and is still going strong. That’s huge for a program of this type, where so many similar initiatives start with a bang, and end with a fizzle in a matter of months.

So what makes MSI different? The key is that Starbucks does a great job at moderating the community and curating the ideas. They do this in a number of ways:

  • Designated representatives from Starbucks provide timely feedback on popular ideas
  • Moderators provide additional curation beyond the community’s up/down votes, such as grouping similar ideas together
  • They close the loop by giving updates on the implementation of popular ideas
  • They heavily promote ides that have been a result of the MSI program, which reinforces the message that the company is listening and that the community input is valued

These feedback mechanisms are vital. They are also unbelievably labor intensive, and probably the biggest reason similar initiatives have failed elsewhere. On top of typical forum moderation duties, moderators not only need to interact with participants, but also chase down the right people in the organization who can comment on the ideas and get updates as the ideas progress. This effort required to do this work explodes as the suggestion box site becomes more popular. If these moderation efforts fail, users will feel ignored and undervalued, and the whole system collapses.

An important thing to remember (and thanks to Jim for pointing this out) is that there is a human desire to feel important and contribute. People want to be in on the idea at the beginning in order to feel ownership and a part of things, especially during times of change. That’s powerful, and must be given the proper attention to keep the program thriving.

Programs like this are one way to drive innovation and build a community of invested participants, but it’s not the only way. More to come in future posts!

READ MORE

Your Personality Is Showing

Your Personality Is Showing

There I was, minding my own business one evening, digging into my organization's SEO performance (as one does), when I came across something interesting. Search terms related to "MBTI" — or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, developed by Katherine Cook Briggs and Isabel...

read more
Lessons From a Change Manager Who Hates Change

Lessons From a Change Manager Who Hates Change

Hello. My name is Monique, and I’m a change manager who hates change.   After years of receiving “consulting therapy” from various mentors, I am now able to say these words out loud and proudly. But for a long time, it felt more like an admission of guilt. I mean, who...

read more
Creativity as a Cure

Creativity as a Cure

The topic of creative solutioning has been front and center these days as we talk more and more about organizational adaptability in the face of dynamic and uncertain times. For example, I recently read about a project that got me thinking about specific priorities...

read more
Thought Ensemble, a Pariveda Company — Why Now?

Thought Ensemble, a Pariveda Company — Why Now?

Big news over here as we close out the year - we have been acquired by Pariveda, a 750-person consulting firm in 12 markets across North America! We are now “Thought Ensemble, a Pariveda Company” and I’ll be serving as the Managing Vice President continuing to lead...

read more
Thought Ensemble Joins Pariveda Solutions!

Thought Ensemble Joins Pariveda Solutions!

Dallas, December 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Pariveda, a leader specializing in solving complex technology and business problems, announces the acquisition of Thought Ensemble. With the addition of Thought Ensemble, Pariveda now provides holistic business strategy,...

read more
Thoughts on Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act

Thoughts on Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act

It was about a year ago that we first started hearing about Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (SB19-085) and I knew it was going to be national news. We’d just gotten past the “Rocky Mountain High” jokes, and our lovely state was trying to break new ground...

read more
Disruption Is the New Normal

Disruption Is the New Normal

By nature, disruptors are not popular. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win, then they copy you.” We have all heard some version of this quote, and we have all seen it play out in real life. We've seen it with building...

read more
What Would You Say You Do Here?

What Would You Say You Do Here?

“I deal with the … customers so the engineers don't have to! I have people skills!” That famous Office Space quote from Tom Smykowski cracks me up every single time. I know Toms. I’ve been Tom. Change the quote to say, “IT Team” instead of “engineers,” and there’s a...

read more