Venture SpiritAs soon as I had collected my thoughts about a more engaging way to foster innovation in an organization and published The Venture Capital Model for Innovation in Organizations, the Belgian consulting and innovation solution company Venture Spirit replied and told me: "We have what you are looking for!" No way! As if they could read my mind.

Stefan Triest, General Manager of Venture Spirit, walked me through their innovation platform and service that is an online business game, where employees fill out the roles of three types participants: investors, entrepreneurs and talents (or experts). A typical "game" runs for three to four months, and employees can join the game regardless of their function or location. In a completely self-organizing way employees are encouraged to collaborate and share knowledge on ideas and invest in them and find resources. At the end a ranking of ideas (or plans as they call it) is provided through the investments done by the players.

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In my role as Senior Innovation Strategist in a Fortune 500 company, I have been facilitating innovation through organizing events, by providing support and infrastructure for innovative communities, and connecting people through the ecosystem. Working with and talking to successful (and unsuccessful) innovators inside and outside the organization, I have seen certain patterns that helped or blocked getting innovation out to the market. Some of the common show-stoppers for making internal innovation successful are
  • developers who are unfamiliar with the proper processes that help them to bring their idea into the product portfolio
  • Innovative teams that lack certain skill sets, e.g. teams mainly composed of developers and without somebody who can craft a business model
  • active or passive resistance from important gatekeepers
  • structures that do not a allow flexible realignment of resources
  • not-invented-here-syndrom
  • and many more…
First and foremost the use of an innovation management platform that helps to keep track and process innovative ideas is a good start. I introduced a number of vendors with a gamified offering of such platforms in a past article. Partly encouraged through such platforms, partly because these organizations are still stuck in a hierarchical thought model, a body of decision makers on what idea deserves to be pursued is established.

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Since Gartner said that by 2015, more than 50 percent of all companies that manage innovation will have gamified those processes, it's time to take a look at who's doing what and what gamified innovation platforms are out there. Let's call it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Having fostered innovation in a big corporation over several years through different means, like organizing innovation events, driving innovative communities, and running innovation platforms, I am well aware that an innovation platform is only a tool. Without the proper processes, structures, attitude of management and employees, and heaven knows what else, you won't be able to turn a dead horse into a stallion.
Let's start with some use cases of companies, that use or used gamification to drive their innovation processes, both with customers and employees.

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