The great man, Albert Einstein had said – If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it. How true! Just rewind history and look at some of the greatest inventions that ever came about. Think of them just as ideas… nothing more. Shorn off success and hindsight, they seem truly incredulous (and ridiculous) don’t they? Ideas are then, just opportunities which come disguised as cranks.
That was then. Today, at least you won’t be subjected to the Roman Inquisition for suggesting that the Earth revolves around the Sun. You can cross an ocean with an idea. And maybe make a product or the world a better place. In fact, in my last post we did talk about how to ignite sparks of innovative ideas.
Now, there are some well-known companies that encourage you to share your ideas. For their own bottomlines or more selfless ends, the five on this short list are some avenues where you can give wings to your ideas.
Dell [No Longer Available]
As you well know, Dell has no “middleman”. Dell sells computers directly to computers. They have the same approach with ideas. Idea Storm is a Dell platform for sharing ideas and even brainstorming on how to make computing better. The statistic says that the database has nearly 18,000 ideas and nearly 500+ ideas have already been implemented. The site also has a segment called Storm Sessions where ideas are asked for based around a certain requirement or topic. These are time bound brainstorming sessions. You might be glad to know that you don’t have to be a Dell customer to participate on this idea sharing site.
Intel [No Longer Available]
Intel Innovators brings you to Facebook. The Intel Facebook app is basically a door to a community of young idea generators. Intel Innovators is a time bound program to solicit ideas and award the winners. The latest round just got over, but the next one could be announced soon. So, watch the space. Two winners walked away with $50,000 cash prizes after pitching their ideas to an expert panel of VCs, industry executives and technology entrepreneurs. So, if successful one stands to win more than a cash prize. Read the submission guidelines and wait for the next round.
An idea that interested me: Kinecthesia – a cheap, portable, user-friendly device that allows the visually challenged to navigate any area.
Google is all about ideas. After all, they are the ones who encourage the 80/20 percent work culture. The Google Product Ideas page is where you can view submitted ideas and contribute your own. Right now it features four of their products. Google Places and Google Docs Product Ideas are no longer taking in submissions, but you can view the full archive of ideas. YouTube Partner Product Ideas and Product Ideas for Google Scribe are very much on. I don’t have to talk about Google as it frequently holds contests around their products; heck the famous Google Doodle itself is often designed by the crowd.
An idea that interested me: Starting a Google Docs Labs with not fully ready for prime time features that we can turn on and off.
IBM is well-known in industry circles for its Jams, which are global brainstorming sessions held periodically online by calling participants from business, colleges, technologists, and the general public. The cross-disciplinary approach to innovation works well because the IBM site says after 2006’s online session involving more than 150,000 people from 104 countries and 67 companies, IBM launched 10 new businesses! You have to watch this space for announcement on the next Jam event.
In the above video,Liam Cleaver, program director, Jams and Collaborative Innovation program office, discusses Jams and how they can transform an enterprise, industry or ecosystem.
Ideas sometimes need a good dose of caffeine to spill out from the brain. So, let’s end with a visit to Starbucks. The global brand has a permanent center for ideas, and a browse tells you that ideas here cover the entire range of coffee drinking experiences, from ideas for free drinks to going against child labor. The ideas are organized around categories. In the end, don’t forget to also check out Ideas in Action which tells you all about ideas which have become reality.
These seven famous brands obviously aren’t the only ones which are using the social web to pull in wisdom from the crowds. There are the likes of Kellogg’s, Airbus, Unilever, and LEGO, to name just a few. Maybe, you know of few others?
The great thing about the 21st Century is that ideas can be easily taken out and aired to the world. Thanks to social media, the wisdom of the crowds is a viral entity that is as powerful as democracy. Call it open innovation or crowdsourcing, an idea is a powerful catalyst today. Don’t keep an idea to yourself — air it out. If you can’t build on it, let someone else have a go…don’t let your idea die a silent death. So, do you have an idea?