Innovation: A Heaping Helping of Hype and Hindrance?

Category innovation

Guest blog entry by Chris Martin of Chris Martin Studios, Vancouver, WA

Innovation is a popular word in today’s business world. In order to stand out from competition or be more profitable, the typical managerial response is something along the lines of improving the quality and amount of innovation, or in some cases, beginning to innovate. But is all of this focus on innovation a good thing for business? Can an organization flip the innovation switch and be just that, innovative? Or is it just a heaping helping of hype and hindrance with a side-order of hope? Short answer: It’s something else entirely.

Like most over-used words in public vocabulary, we have a good idea of what they mean but occasionally misuse them in proper context. That leads me to the question, what does innovation really mean? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, innovation is “1: the introduction of something new 2: a new idea, method, or device.” Innovation is something new.

Innovation is Subjective

The interesting thing about innovation is that it’s highly subjective. What’s new to one business is not necessarily new to others, so can “the new” still be innovative? Absolutely! Further, business processes and procedures can be built upon that new “idea, method, or device” and produce better products and services for customers and employees. Much like a nuclear chain reaction or an avalanche, innovation builds upon existing innovation, internal and external to businesses, potentially creating a massive situation that alters existence.

Take Apple’s iPhone. Without a myriad of technologies and innovations, the innovation of the iPhone would not exist. Plastics, display technology, circuit design, programming, graphic design, electronics and batteries. A short list of many innovations that allow the iPhone to continue changing the way people use their mobile devices.

Innovation is Collaborative

It’s hard to be innovative by yourself. Yes, ideas develop, hunches form, and theories gel in the brains of individuals, but magic happens when those ideas are shared in a group setting. Connections are created, the circuits of creativity are completed–new ideas develop and form.

So, let’s schedule an innovation meeting and share our individual ideas. That’s how it works, right? Not so fast. First and foremost, people must be willing to share their ideas. Is sharing a part of your corporate culture or are people protective and defensive? Second, people need a safe and trusted forum for sharing and discussing ideas. Is a meeting where people are put on the spot to share their ideas the best way for your company to begin the process of innovation or are there other ways?

Enter IdeaJam, a cloud-based idea and innovation management service, which enables the internal sharing of ideas as well as provides tools to rate, comment, promote or demote in order to find the best. It creates a trusted, secure and simple way to generate a lot of new ideas, see what employees think about a specific idea or even see how it could be implemented or fleshed out in more detail. A lot of potential for establishing a foundation of innovation: an abundance of ideas.

However, with an abundance of ideas, organizations still need people to analyze the ideas, connect similar ideas and build a network of innovation. It sounds a little overwhelming, but innovation takes a lot of time. It’s not a switch you flip on for instantaneous results.

Innovation Takes Time

In Steven Johnson’s book on innovation, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History Of Innovation, he devotes a whole chapter to the idea of “The Slow Hunch” and that “world-changing ideas” are rarely the result of quick decisions. He writes:

“Most hunches that turn into important innovations unfold over much longer time frames. They start with a vague, hard-to-describe sense that there’s an interesting solution to a problem that hasn’t yet been proposed, and they linger in the shadows of the mind, sometimes for decades, assembling new connections and gaining strength.”

Johnson tells stories of how long it took Charles Darwin (evolution of life), John Locke (indexing system for commonplace books), and Tim Berners-Lee (World Wide Web) to make the necessary connections in order to flesh out and communicate their individual, life-altering innovations. For most of them it took years, even decades, but the time spent was worth it. If Berners-Lee had not brought his innovative ideas to fruition, you might not be reading this blog post right now.

Innovation is One of Many Core Business Values

It’s important that organizational leaders realize that innovation is just one of many core business values. It should never take the place of sound business decisions, treating employees fairly and with respect, and being ethical.

Innovation can bring “something new” to each business, even to the individuals that make up an organization. However, it is important to remember that innovation is finely-tuned to the culture of your organization; it thrives on collaboration, sharing and connecting; and it takes a long time to generate and create “world-changing” ideas.


A sneak peak at IdeaJam V1.9 - Idea and Innovation Management Software

Category ideajam news innovation lotus connections ibm social software social business
IdeaJam idea and innovation management software

We thought we would give you a sneak peak at some of the great new features coming in version 1.9 of our IdeaJam idea management and innovation software.
  • An IdeaJam can be switched into "read/view only mode" so that the audience can view ideas, votes and comments but are unable to create new content.
  • An IdeaJam can be set to automatically switch into "read/view mode" on a specified date.
  • When viewing an idea a new chart is available on an idea which shows recent activity against the idea including votes, comments and more.
  • A new role which prohibits participants from creating ideas while allowing the to vote and comment.
  • A new role which prohibits participants from creating comments.
  • A new sidebar widget which displays the list of IdeaSpaces (categories).
  • Participant reputation scores and badges.
  • A new "Moderator" role which allows moderation of all idea spaces without giving them "full admin" rights.
  • Tooltips for voting labels.
  • Month names are now displayed in the local language when viewing ideas and comments.
  • Support for multiple configurable static content pages has been added.
  • Individual charts on the Statistics page can be enabled or disabled.
  • ...and more
Want to learn more about IdeaJam? Start here >


Introducing Clever Together: Elguji partner located in the United Kingdom

Category partner ideajam innovation iqjam linkjam

Clever Together

Clever Together is a business improvement agency that partners with Elguji Software - we generate collective insight and deliver informed action to accelerate value across the full business lifecycle.

We believe that organisations can deliver more value, sooner, by making business decisions and taking actions that are informed by deep, collective insight.

Until recently technological limitations and tradition have forced business leaders to rely on information generated by individuals or small groups – sourcing insight from large groups with diverse experience was expensive, time consuming and hard to coordinate. Today, Clever Together makes it possible to generate collective insight from staff, customers, suppliers and partners, in real time – providing deep engagement across traditional boundaries. By combining applied social media with focussed event facilitation, our approach offers leaders an unprecedented opportunity to take informed action across their whole improvement lifecycle.



At Clever Together we focus on both “insight” and “action”. We combine the skills and techniques of a social engagement agency with the processes of a management consultancy, to help you take informed action, at lower cost with improved return on investment. We differentiate ourselves from other businesses in three ways:
  • En-Masse Stakeholder Engagement - We are different from traditional advisory firms because of our ability to rapidly tap the collective wisdom and insight of your stakeholders. For a fraction of the cost of traditional stakeholder engagement techniques we are able to give you the information you need to make better decisions, underpinned by real stakeholder support.
  • Whole Lifecycle - We are different from social engagement and media agencies because we are able to support your whole improvement lifecycle, from generating insight to planning action and realising the benefits. We’ll help you understand your challenges and facilitate the improvements you need in your organisation.
  • Improvement From Within – We recognise that the best source of insight for your organisation is from the people you employ and those within your immediate network (customers, suppliers and partners). In this sense, our approach creates the environment for innovation and improvement from within your organisation and its networks. As facilitators we form an integral part of your internal improvement network, as opposed to providing external advice.


We have built our business on a strong foundation of working in partnership with firms who recognise that our skills complement their offer to add increased value and improved outcomes for clients.

Technology Partners

We partner with a number of technology providers to offer easy to use social media tools that help us to engage large groups of people. We use a variety of tools ranging from idea management systems to smart blog and wiki solutions. As our technology partner, you can benefit in three ways:
  • Increase the value of your platform to end-customers – driving higher, more sustained licence revenue;
  • Leverage our expertise to offer a more comprehensive package to your customers;
  • Gain new customers – using your platform for client engagements where we feel you offer the best solution for the context at hand.

Consulting and Service Providers

We partner with several consultancies to support the delivery of their programmes. We can help you to achieve your objectives by:
  • accelerating and deepening the value of your consulting projects:
  • reaching out to wider groups of stakeholders;
  • enabling directed, bottom up, consensus driven decision-making; and
  • giving you the ability to begin your engagement strategy sooner;
  • broadening your service offerings;
  • creating additional USPs – an extra innovative edge within your proposals.

Markets and Services

At Clever Together our services are utilised across markets and are typically focused to resolve market specific challenges:

Clever Together

Contact Clever Togethers's Robin Vickers for more information.


The Myths of Innovation

Category video ideajam innovation
Author Scott Burken presents a lecture about his book "The Myths of Innovation" at a Google Tech Talk back in May 2007. The video runs about an hour is an excellent watch. We would love to hear your thoughts about the video/book in the comments.


Guess Who's a "Who's Who in Innovation Management Technology" According to Gartner

Category gartner research press coverage ideajam innovation comparison

Elguji was recently honored to have been included by Gartner in a recent comparison study of Idea Management solutions. In the research paper, "Who's Who in Innovation Management Technology," Gartner carefully examines eleven (11) different product offerings. 

While this research piece does not include the ubiquitous Gartner, "Magic Quadrant," table; it does include feature comparisons of over forty (40) features. The reader can easily walk away knowing IdeaJam has all of features they could possibly want (and then some). 

Additionally for those customers with an investment in IBM Lotus Notes & Domino, it's reinforces the simple notion that Domino is, "The Social Software Platform You Already Own." 

While there is a charge to purchase this research paper, you can see IdeaJam in action for yourself, for free.  Take a look at the USDA's, "America's Great Outdoors" IdeaJam. As of this writing there are:
  • 2,405 Ideas
  • 380,964 Votes
If you are interested in purchasing this research paper and / or becoming a Gartner client, please follow the link below.

A big thank you to Gartner for taking the time to learn about Elguji and IdeaJam.

Title:Who's Who in Innovation Management Technology
Authors:Carol Rozwell, Kathy Harris, Mary Mesaglio
Publication Date:August 16, 2010
Gartner Document ID #:G00205262
Length:28 pages
Article Link:http://www.gartner.com/DisplayDocument?id=1422313
Gartner Contact Info:http://www.gartner.com/technology/contact/contact_gartner.jsp


Case Study: The Austin Independent School District

Category ideajam school kids innovation social software
Back in May several hundred students from the Austin Independent School District participated in a district sponsored IdeaJam to share their ideas and thoughts in several key areas. The jam was held over a 72 hour period and included contributions from not only the students but the District Superintendent, Principals and other school Administrators.

Read the Austin Independent School District IdeaJam Case Study (PDF) >


Now Available: "The Social Software Platform You Already Own" Position Paper

QuickImage Category lotus notes domino wiki blog innovation idea management open source openntf social bookmarking social media
Large enterprises are quickly learning to be more "social."  Just about every organization has a Facebook page and a Twitter account (if not multiples of each).  Now many of them are looking to take their social media initiatives to that proverbial, "next level."

They want to be able to have a much more intimate relationship with their customers, potential customers as well as their own employees.  For example, getting their input on a new product or service; seeking ideas for ways to improve an existing product or service; etc.  Internally, senior management may look to promote a more open work environment and foster honest discussions about company initiatives. 

Just the thought of such an undertaking evokes thoughts of an army of silicon valley "social media consultants," countless hours of work and of course a consulting bill to rival the national debt.

The solution for many companies, especially those with an investment in IBM Lotus Notes and Domino could be quite easy, painless, and cost about as much as a few executive briefing from some of the major consulting houses.

Elguji Software has just published a brief paper entitled, "The Social Software Platform Your Already Own." 

In it, Elguji President and CEO Bruce Elgort outlines how a company's existing IBM Lotus Notes and Domino groupware collaboration platform can be easily transformed into a social media ecosystem that tightly integrate your customer's ideas with your company's infrastructure.

"The Social Software Platform You Already Own" paper can be downloaded at no charge here.

Explore Elguji case studies, product brochures and product documentation.