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Ideation Challenges: Let the Games Begin

By November 27, 2021May 6th, 2023All, Design5 min read


Published on November 27, 2021 | Reading Time: 2 mins

While a straightforward concept in theory, it is often more difficult to imagine what an effortless experience looks like in practice. Let us imagine the future of public services.

Ideation challenges are an effective tool used during the design process for raising innovation, highlighting areas of improvement in a certain field, and finding creative solutions to solve problems. They do this by bringing together a large number of contributors and experts who help in collecting creative inputs and finding intelligent solutions for a specific matter. The need for incremental improvements to existing products or services requested by customers in addition to rapid rates of technology developments has created a push toward using ideation challenges as a main source of inspiration for ideas. These ideas are then evaluated and refined to generate some of the most creative solutions to the complex issues we face today.

What to do Before Launching an Ideation Challenge

Before launching the challenge, many parameters should be identified which are also considered as key success factors for ideation challenges.

  1. Having a Well-Defined Problem Statement

To make the challenge meaningful, it must start by asking “what are the objectives that need to be achieved by the end of the challenge”. Defining a clear, focused and well communicated target for a specific case will drive the ideation challenge by encouraging the audience to participate and submit their ideas, as well as improving the quality and relevance of ideas that are submitted.

Before publishing the challenge, it could be useful to consider testing the problem statement by getting the opinions of the future audience. They may help improve the framing of the challenges and make suggestions on how to make it clearer and easier to understand.

  1. Identifying the Challenge Audience

One of the most important variables in the ideation challenge is the clear identification of who exactly takes part in the challenge.

The prospective audience strongly depends on the type of inputs or ideas that need to obtained. For example, if an organization desired a large amount of ideas, it could invite the entire public. However, if the organization wanted very focused knowledge, it could only invite expert participants.

How to invite the audience to participate in the challenge is an additional important consideration. A number of communication means can be used in the invitation process. For example, a video can be created about the challenge, showing the audience segment (students, women or academics) that are targeted.

Moreover, deciding the audience size is very important and should rely on the challenge objectives and the amount of input required to achieve the required goals.

  1. Idea Selection Criteria

Establishing and communicating clear evaluation and selection criteria of the challenge will boost the probability of selecting high quality ideas. There is no one-set specific evaluation process that can be used, because evaluation criteria and methods should vary from one organization to the other, depending on their strategic goals and needs. Selection criteria must guide the process of deciding whether submitted ideas are a good fit for the organization and whether they have potential to succeed. For example, does the organization need breakthrough ideas, which are new and innovative or ideas that can be implemented with a relatively low resource input? The audience should also be aware of what the organization is looking for to effectively participate in the challenge.

  1. Planning The Execution

Before launching the challenge, it is critical to have a plan on how the challenge will be executed. This plan could include significant parameters such as:

  • Assigning people in charge and defining their responsibilities. This also includes the people responsible for evaluating ideas.
  • Deciding the timing of the launch. Scheduling at the same time as other important large events or holidays that might steal the attention of the audience should be avoided.
  • The duration of the challenge which may depend on the required inputs, solutions and the complexity of the problem in order to give participants enough time to react in each phase of the challenge, from communicating the challenge to implementing the winning idea.
  • Encouraging participants not to save time and effort in their innovative ideas. This usually needs an effective reward program which may not only contain monetary rewards, but also moral rewards such as providing resources and support for the implementation of ideas.
  • Means of communications with the audience should be clearly identified. Means of communication are determined through the selection of communication channels which may depend on the nature of the audience and their preferences. These may include social media channels, emails and face-to-face interaction.
  1. Identifying Success Factors

It is important to set criteria that determine the success of the challenge, such as the effectiveness of the ideas presented and their relevance to the topic at hand, the number of participants in the challenge, the number of feasible ideas that were efficiently implemented, as well as the improvement results that were recorded in the organization. The process of measuring the challenge’s success also helps in continuous development, so that past mistakes can be avoided in future challenges.

Wrapping up the Challenge

At the last stage of the challenge, all noticeable findings, data and information gathered during the challenge should be collected and processed. The analysis of results should contain improvement plans and actions for the execution of any next steps. It is very essential that all team members meet to evaluate the challenge, by comparing the observed results with the objectives that were set at the beginning, and to determine whether the desired goals have been achieved. The results of the performance analysis are then reflected and integrated in upcoming challenges.


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