Software-coordinated work on concepts

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Challenge

Innovation projects are driven by key contributions. These are "the right idea at the right time". They can make stalled projects rolling again. They can lower required resources until projects become feasible. In innovation projects, key contributions significantly outplay other factors such as co-localization or resources.

Innovation lives from key contributions

We are therefore searching for a project development platform that maximizes the likelihood of getting key contributions in innovation projects.

Existing "idea markets" and "innovation management" tools are geared towards finding solutions for well-posed problems. This works when the overall project structure is clear and a single task needs solving.

Our focus is on an earlier stage, where the project structure itself benefits from improvement, and where contributions to a concept require less friction.

An online document with write access for everyone makes contributing easy. However, it's impossible to select only the key contributions. And it is limited: competing contributions cannot co-exist.

Get contributions easily, and select the best

If we want the best contributions, we need two things: To make it easy to receive contributions, and to allow negotiating proposed contributions before they are part of the project, so we can settle on the best.

Approach

We look at "easy but negotiable contributions" as a market mechanism, a question of demand and supply: Contributions can be solicited or unsolicited, can compete, be vetted, and the best are accepted to the project and iteratively improved.

A contribution market to develop your project

To achieve this, we first give every project participant full online write-access to the project concept. But everyone's modifications are automatically saved as separate copies, not affecting the version of anyone else. Then, participants can individually negotiate each other's changes and accept them as contributions.

Now, a contribution can be anything from correcting a typo to re-writing the overall project structure to save resources.

Therefore we build an algorithm that converts the modifications done by any participant into a list of intuitive standalone contributions that can be easily accepted, rejected, or modified. Our algorithm incorporates a number of approaches published in literature and extends and adapts concepts discussed there for our needs. Our algorithm is described in more detail at our Tree diff page.

Finally, since participants "trade" contributions through individual preferences, we add a social layer to let participants coordinate choices as an organization

Result

An early version of the resulting application is currently being evaluated by a small number of businesses.

Give experts autonomy

Their decision makers are interested in the tool's capability to decrease manager moderation of decisions, from both a knowledge perspective (experts should know best) and a motivational perspective (give experts more autonomy).

The web application is in private beta mode.

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