Innovation software platforms aren't just the domain of Fortune 500 organizations; even local government is getting into the act. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Chris Vein, CIO of the city and county of San Francisco, about an effort to use crowdsourcing to address some of the city's woes. Chris is one of the most forward thinking CIOs I've ever met and he had some interesting insights into the value of innovation management.
Faced with budget cutbacks, the city of San Francisco created a website, ImproveSF.org, to find ways the city could balance their budget. The campaign behind the site was created with the intentions of lowering costs in city government, which in turn would eliminate some of the financial stress felt at that level. Utilizing the site, city employees were permitted to sign in and enter their suggestions on how to best cut costs and increase revenue. Once submitted, others could comment and vote on the ideas to determine the essential "winners."
The results were astounding, once again affirming the idea that the best innovation comes from the most unlikely sources. There were more than seven hundred participants that played an active role in trying to find a solution. Four thousand votes were cast to determine the final outcome. There were four suggestions, which have been or will be implemented in order to achieve the actual objective improving the city's financials. The city of San Francisco should realize a savings of $90,000, he says.
The four best received concepts were broken into two divisions. The first intended to cut costs while the second set out to raise more funds. The winning suggestions, as announced by Mayor Newsom, were amazing:
All joking regarding the poor spending habits of government aside, this kind of interaction between upper management and front line employees is exactly what business needs. San Francisco selected Brightidea, the leader in innovation management software, but whether it's Brightidea or any of the other 20 some odd ideation platforms engaging employees and customers today in developing new ideas isn't a choice it's a requirement.
By David Greenfield