Crafting an actionable and targeted Idea Challenge Statement

Idea Challenge

Whether through idea management software or suggestion box, an idea challenge is an effective and powerful means of collecting new and insightful ideas.             

Trae Tessmann|
March 20, 2017

Leverage an idea challenge to boost engagement and innovation efforts company-wide.


An Idea challenge is a time-limited event where employees, customers, and/or the public submit their best ideas or feedback to solve a problem (or seize an opportunity) facing your organization (launch one in seven easy steps). Managed online through idea management software or offline through a suggestion box, an idea challenge is an effective and powerful means of collecting new and insightful ideas and perspectives for a specific problem, and involving a larger group of individuals in the company innovation project management and process.


But an idea challenge is only as powerful as the statement that presents it. Apart from collecting ideas, reviewing, and implementing them, crafting the statement is a science in itself!


Here’s what NOT to ask in your idea challenge statement –


  • What could we be doing better?
  • How can we improve communication?
  • Where can we cut costs?



These questions are open-ended, lack direction, and provide no context for your idea challenge. This “freedom” for thought might seem like a good thing, but actually presents a hurdle for participants. They don’t know what you’re really looking for in terms of submitting ideas, and freeze up when trying to kick-start their thought process. Engagement drops, ideas aren’t applicable to your goals, and the idea challenge flops.


Here’s how you can get started on the right foot –


  • Choose a Topic – Ex. Operations, marketing, research and development
  • Choose a Target – Ex. Specific processes, products or services, markets or customers
  • Choose an Metric – Ex. Increasing revenues, cutting costs, improving customer satisfaction
  • Choose your People – Ex. Employees, customers, suppliers



Once you know what your idea challenge will be covering or solving, it’s time to craft your idea challenge statement. This will be the question or statement that participants are presented with. It outlines your project and ultimately drives their thought process. Don’t take it lightly. Structure it to get the ideas you’re looking for.


Focus on these points in your statement to get the ideas you’re looking for –


  • Goal – State your objective (with a quantifiable outcome if applicable), and how you want to go about reaching it. Make it clear, concise, and specific to direct the conversation and ideas that will help bring it to fruition.
  • Time – Set a deadline for implementation. Avoid the opportunity for someone to share a huge idea if you want something by the end of the month. Save those game-changers for another idea challenge.
  • Tone – Make your challenge actionable. Don’t give participants an opportunity to post their complaints. Frame your statement to focus on ideas that move the company forward.



Below are a few examples of intuitive and actionable idea challenge topics –


  • How do we boost revenues 10% for MarketA by the end of Q2?
  • What technologies can we leverage to improve communication for customer service?
  • How do we reduce errors by 20% during production by the end of the year?
  • Where are we wasting time in our buyer-side supply chain operations?



This method of crowdsourcing from front-line participants (employees involved in operations or customers consuming products/services) provides unique insights that management or consultants were previously unaware of. Powered by idea management software, a suggestion box, or brainstorming sessions, an idea challenge is the answer for finding new ways to improve operations. They’re targeted, concise, and applicable to both your operations and participants.


With a strong idea challenge statement and an applicable group of participants, strategic management and innovation can be driven from the bottom-up. Costs are reduced, engagement is improved, and new ideas are surfaced to solve the problems and seize the opportunities that move the organization forward.



Is your Company actually ready for an Idea Challenge?



About Trae Tessmann

Co-founder of Ideawake

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