Dubbed “Crowdcasting“, companies like Daimler-Chrysler, Hilton, and American Express are awarding cash prizes to ‘innovation challenge’ sessions in hopes of capturing the next big ideas for their industries.
Here’s the seven-step process as outlined by the article in CNNMoney.com and Business 2.0 —
Step 1 : Team formation
MBA students join teams that have three to five members each.
Step 2 : Challenge sent
Each team receives a carefully crafted strategic challenge.
Step 3 : Conference call
Teams discuss their challenge with executives of participating companies.
Step 4 : Brainstorming
Teams have nine days to draft concept plans to solve the challenge.
Step 5 : Idea submitted
A group of judges reviews the teams’ concept plans online.
Step 6 : Final round
Finalists present their plans at a two-day session at the University of Virginia.
Step 7 : Winner named
The team gets $20,000; the companies get rights to the team’s ideas.
My feeling is that this is another prime example of how some companies are finally realizing the value of seeking ideas from outside their walled fortresses of stagnation, although I feel they need to move from the current use of MBA students (of which some of whom may be a little too eager to please in hopes of securing future employment) and include a mix of real-world product users.
What if the Daimler sessions included people who chose NOT to drive Chrysler vehicles?
Why doesn’t Hilton include frequent travelers and hotel guests in their groups?
Wouldn’t AMEX benefit from an assembled group of small business owners?