• Managing Your Innovation Program

How to Run a Successful Campaign

Running Campaigns in a continuous cycle is a highly effective way to align individual motivation with organizational goals. In this guide we’re going to cover some of the basics of Campaigns, and then look into each of the steps of this cycle.

The Continuous Cycle of Innovation

Campaign Basics

Campaigns in Kindling allow you to put a question to your entire organization or some subset of the organization around an impactful topic. This question could be quite broad—What should our company be in 2020?—or specific—How can we cut shipping costs by 25% this year?

And because Campaigns are timely, beginning and ending on dates of your choosing, they tend to generate a lot of excitement and a high volume of Ideas.

A Campaign can optionally carry a prize or reward, for example for any Idea that’s been approved or gets a certain amount of support from the community. The reward creates an additional incentive for employee participation and a sense of accomplishment (or pride) for award winners. A reward, such as an Amazon gift card or new iPad, can be an effective way to create excitement, particularly in the short term. For sustained engagement over the long term, the most important factors are active and transparent decision making and recognition.

Before the Campaign, Identify Challenges and Goals

Find the Right Question

Finding the right question to ask your community is crucial to run an effective Campaign because this question will set the tone and provide the framework for ideation. Most importantly, the question should be something relevant and impactful to your organization, and it should have a direct relationship to your business objectives. Asking the employees of your small toy company for their ideas on how to get a rocket to the moon might be an interesting exercise, but in the end, what will have been achieved?

If you’ve already identified strategic goals, such as the mandate to cut production costs by 10% by end of year or to improve employee retention this quarter, then these goals, stated as a question, make excellent first Campaign choices.

Not sure what question to ask? If you are struggling to find the right area of focus for your innovation initiative, you can design a great starting Campaign to assess gaps in the markets that you serve or in the technology you use to serve your customers. Questions like “What are the unmet needs of our customers?,” “What markets are we not yet targeting or incompletely supporting?,” or “Where does our technology fall short?” will help you get a sense of where you should focus your efforts in subsequent, more solution-oriented Campaigns.

For example, if you run a campaign to assess gaps in your market reach, responses to this Campaign may reveal areas where you can better serve current customers and identify potential new customers. The next task of this Campaign will fall on Moderators—the people you empower to drive the Campaign and make decisions—to ask relevant experts to assess the potential costs and benefits of filling in these gaps. Committees can also be formed to take part in these evaluations. At the end, a few target spaces will be identified as strategically auspicious and marked as “Approved” in the Campaign. You can then run follow-up Campaigns to vet Ideas about how to use new methods and technology to satisfy the needs of these target market spaces. In this way, Campaigns can build on one another so that the problem spaces uncovered in one are addressed in the next.

Select the Campaign’s Owners

The goal of a Campaign is often to solve a particular problem or uncover a new opportunity, which requires decisions to be made. Finding the right owners for the Campaign is therefore crucial, as they will own the process of turning the submitted Ideas through an evaluation process, towards a decision. Moderators are able to configure the evaluation workflow, progress Ideas through Idea States, gather feedback, build a business case and ultimately make decisions about the Ideas submitted to the Campaign.

Select Moderators who enjoy collaborating and who are natural communicators. Good Moderators will look forward to participating, they won’t consider it “work.”

Identify Potential Experts

Some Ideas submitted to the Campaign may extend beyond the scope of your Moderators’ expertise. Having a team of experts at the ready for the topic at hand gives Moderators the support they need and a clearer path to assess value and feasibility.

Determine Your Goals and Measure of Success

Are you aiming to solve a business challenge or come up with a new product idea? Are you looking for a certain level of engagement or trying to get feedback from a hard-to-reach team? Identify your barometer for evaluating your Campaign, and you’ll have a clear measure of success once the Campaign comes to a close.

Identify Constraints and Criteria

The best Ideas are those that show the best fitness for the environment while addressing the business goal at hand. If your budget only allows for $50,000 to take Ideas to reality, a popular Idea that will take millions to get to market is not a good fit. Looking for Ideas that can be executed by a small team in only a week? Let your community know, as constraints will not only sharpen the relevancy of the discussion, but can in fact create a more creative environment for ideation. Additionally, by identifying and communicating constraints, the process of making decisions about submitted Ideas will be easier, as you’ll have a clear picture of which Ideas will be the best fits.

Launch the Campaign and Energize Participants

Introduce the Campaign

When launching a Campaign, a great strategy is to immediately write a Post to introduce and provide context to participants. Your Post should introduce the goals of the Campaign, how it fits into the organization’s strategy, any constraints and selection criteria, and the plan for achieving those goals.

Specific questions to consider addressing in the announcement Post:

  1. Why is this Campaign important to the organization? Answering this question sets the context for the Campaign and tells users why they should be part of the conversation.
  2. Is the goal of the Campaign to identify a problem space, find a solution or both? Give users some direction about the type of Ideas you’re looking for, and you’ll get a greater percentage of in-scope, actionable Ideas.
  3. How/when will the Ideas contributed to this Campaign be moderated? Set expectations about the Campaign. Will there be a single “winning” Idea or multiple Ideas approved? Will you make decisions about all Ideas after the end date or as the Campaign progresses? What factors will most influence your decision making? Setting expectations from the start will guide participants towards finding the best Ideas for you.
  4. What are the benefits of participation in the Campaign? Identify the incentives most appropriate to your company culture. Is your team motivated by prizes? Recognition? The opportunity to influence company strategy & direction? Show users how your organization’s goals align with their personal goals by drawing a direct line between participation and reward.
Use video to better personalize the message, even if it’s just a quick statement captured by your phone. If the problem you’re looking to solve is yours, there’s power in directly describing why it’s important to you.
Think about spreading the word about a Campaign as internal marketing.

Link New Users to the Post

Link new users to the introductory Post so their first interaction with Kindling highlights the importance of this Campaign and immediately draws them into the conversation.

Use Video in Your Internal Marketing

Video is a compelling way to tell the story of your Campaign—why is it important? How does it map to the organization’s objectives? In some environments a video interview with the CEO or a high level manager will motivate employees to participate; in others, video from peers will work better.

Give Participants Feedback and Evaluate

Keep the Conversation Going

Participants who feel they’re being heard are likely to continue contributing. Moderators play a crucial role in keeping the conversation moving forward by interacting with participants and responding to their Ideas and comments. Moderators can also bring new participants into the mix by giving them access to the Campaign or eliciting their feedback with assessments. Engaging new participants can introduce a fresh perspective and possibly some expertise to a particularly challenging Campaign or Idea.

Posts are also an effective tool for motivating participation. Use them to call out particular Ideas that show potential or to give examples of how other teams or organizations addressed a similar challenge. As a Campaign comes to a close, post a reminder that the deadline for submissions is approaching.

Give your Moderators “Editor” rights so they can create Posts about the progress of the Campaign and continue to provide context for the conversation.
Schedule Moderator check-ins so Moderators can collaborate with each other and discuss any challenges they are facing with their Campaigns.
Encourage moderators to propose revisions to Ideas when the Idea, as stated, shows potential but is missing an element necessary for approval.

Evaluate Ideas

As the Campaign progresses from submission and discussion to evaluation, the responsibility shifts from participants to Moderators. Moderators will ultimately decide which Ideas get executed and which do not.

Participants want their Ideas listened to and evaluated honestly. They will understand when their Ideas are declined, as long as the evaluation process is transparent. That popular Idea about moving the bike line from steel to carbon fiber in order to reduce weight had to be declined because the associated increase in cost wouldn’t be borne by the market—Moderators should share that reasoning, people will get it.

Use Kindling's Assessments to gather feedback from internal experts towards building a business case for the idea, ultimately towards a decision.

Make Decisions and Close the Loop

Make Decisions

Evaluations is an excellent tool for making those decisions. The objective of a Campaign, and of an Innovation Program generally, is to make decisions and turn potential ideas into action.

Closing the loop on Ideas is the secret sauce of a long-running innovation program, so don’t be scared to say “no,” just do it transparently and thoughtfully.

Follow Up with Campaign Results

Once you’ve responded to Idea submissions individually, paint a picture of the overall Campaign results. Did you accomplish what you set out to achieve? What’s the next step in the lifecycle of the Ideas you’ve decided to move forward with? Perhaps you’ve already implemented some Ideas and seen the positive impact of them. Use a Kindling Post to tell your users how their contributions made a difference. Include video to really drive that message home.

Celebrate Wins

Did this Campaign get your team the revolutionary Idea you were looking for? Now’s the time to celebrate that victory! Announce the winning Idea in a Kindling Post to draw attention to the success of your innovation efforts.

Did certain participants stand out from the crowd for the quality of their Ideas or level of engagement? Take notice! Use the Campaign Engagement Report to identify star participants, then recognize their contributions with a Kindling Post and a spot in your organization’s newsletter. Recognition is a powerful motivator and will help plant the seeds of engagement for your next Campaign.

Keep an eye out for volunteers, they're people so motivated by an Idea that they're willing to raise their hand to help evaluate, and ultimately realize, the Idea.

Note Lessons Learned for the Next Campaign

What were the most successful elements of your recent Campaign? Was it the Post from the CEO that got people racing to contribute their ideas and vote? Was it a particular Moderator or participant who kept the conversation going? Identifying areas of success lays the groundwork for preparing your next Campaign.

Were you faced with any challenges that prevented you from reaching your goals? Pinpointing what didn’t work is as important as identifying what did, and it will guide you towards a more effective approach to your next Campaign.

Sample Campaigns

Question: How can we drive additional engagement with our software? Audience: Company-wide Time-frame: 3 weeks Communications/Marketing: Launched with a Post from the CEO.

Question: How should we brand our idea management program? Audience: Company-wide Time-frame: 2 weeks Communications/Marketing: Launched with a Post from the CEO. Winning Idea showcased in a video in Campaign follow-up Post.