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Global innovation contest: innovate with passion and purpose

  • Posted on April 26, 2016

Innovation

Innovation is definitely a buzzword, but inherent in its definition is that you take risks.  A few years ago in our annual global employee engagement survey, we saw a disturbing trend. The answers to questions that were designed to measure how our employees viewed innovation and risk within the organization dropped and had been trending downward over the past few years.

I’ll just say that it was a wake up call for our executive leadership. Our CEO put into motion a number of initiatives, one of which resulted in the creation of our global innovation contest. Open to all employees, we solicit ideas and over a period of a few months the best ideas move forward with the winning team receiving $25,000.

We are currently in the fourth year of our contest and it's our best ever. We learned a lot of lessons on running a global contest for 30,000 employees and we’ve made progress since that first competition. In fact, last year’s winning idea has been implemented with a few of our clients and gained huge attention at the National Retail Federation trade show back in January.

Contest

In this year’s contest we have 10 clients (members of our client advisory board) who provided challenges they are facing in their business. We received 200+ ideas in 3 weeks across those challenges and through executive voting promoted 10 of those ideas to clients for review. Those teams are currently working alongside our clients who are mentoring them to enhance and refine the idea, similar to a small incubator.

We also opened up our contest this year in partnership with three universities who are part of Avanade’s 15 for 15 scholarship program. Avanade has provided scholarships to 15 women focused in STEM and they are joining our Avanade teams to bring fresh thinking and insight to our teams and our clients.

We have teams working on challenges from ensuring patients stay compliant with their medications to predicting harvest data and grape yield. The teams are developing a pitch they will make to the advisory board who then promote forward the top 5 ideas. Those teams will attend our annual TechSummit conference for their final presentation in front of the advisory board and 600+ peers. The winning team still receives $25,000 and additional investment money to take the concept forward.

Drop a comment below if you want to know more about our contest and our lessons learned. We are constantly relearning. I'll follow up in late June and let you know about TechSummit and our winning team.

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