If you have the characteristics of a successful open innovation solver, this world of solution crowdsourcing could be just the ticket. In addition to taking on new and exciting challenges, your participation (and winning solutions) can help you get noticed by potential employers, network with other solvers for business opportunities, and further establish your credentials in your area of expertise.
There is value in learning from those who have gone before. To that end, we asked solvers who have been submitting and winning for six years or more for advice based on their experience. Here are five best practices that they offered.
1. Set aside time daily to work on your solution
“Start solving early and dedicate at least 30 mins daily to drafting a submission instead of solving a challenge at a go in a sitting.” – Christopher Adjei-Frimpong (6 years)
It’s safe to assume that the idea that pops out when you first read the challenge is highly likely to be the same idea that other competitors have come up with. Instead of pursuing that one, devote a set amount of time every day to work on an idea that isn’t obvious. Or brainstorm that initial idea to figure out how it could be tweaked or improved upon to make it truly unique.
2. Think creatively as well as practically
“A good balance of creativity and practicality in your submissions is key.” – Joshua Yeboa Ansong (6 years)
As the name describes, open innovation challenges seek innovation from participating solvers, novel approaches to business goals. Winning solutions require highly creative thinking alongside technical know how. Find ways to spark your creativity so that it can enhance your technical expertise. For example, turn your idea into a mind map or an illustration rather than words and bullet points. Getting away from the computer and taking a walk, drawing a picture, and solving a jigsaw puzzle can shake new thoughts and ideas loose.
3. Provide the detail that raters want to see
“You should be answering the first five or so questions that a product manager might have about your idea in your solution in addition to the questions stated in the challenge.” – Matthew Gaiser (14 years)
While you don’t want your submission to be long-winded, you do want to include details that will help a rater assess your solution. Go beyond the parameters of the challenge and offer enough explanation to make your solution clear.
4. Focus on how to make your submission stand out
One’s submission must have that unique touch that makes it stand out from the pool of solvers.” – Joshua Yeboa Ansong (6 years)
Competition can be quite fierce in open innovation challenges. Throughout your solving process, consider how to position your solution favorably. This includes the solution itself, of course, as well as the way you present it in your submission. If you’re wondering how to make your submission unique, first complete the full written version and then let it sit for a bit–a day or at least a few hours. Revisit your work and brainstorm where you can insert uniqueness. For example, 0ffer visuals that enhance your explanation, include a short video with relevant content, or present results of a small survey you conducted.
5. Keep the rater in mind when preparing your submission
“I am not only a solver, but I also scored entries for several challenges when I was employed by a company that used MindSumo. It gets tiring going through so many submissions, so make it easier for the raters to read. They are more likely to read it in detail and appreciate all the little bits of information you have included.” – Matthew Gaiser (14 years)
Your submission will be reviewed alongside many others. Employing an easy-to-read format can help the rater understand it more readily. Some suggestions: create sections with uniform subheads, use short bullet lists to enhance reading ease, pay attention to line and paragraph spacing to create white space on the page, and use left justification with a ragged right margin.
Keeping these best practices in mind as you pursue open innovation challenges can give you an edge over the competition. Happy solving!
Find out more about open innovation at MindSumo.