Tag Archives: creativity

Crowdsourcing and co-creation elements applied to your project


You don’t have to be very innovative nowadays to be confronted with terms like ‘crowdsourcing’, ‘co-creation’, ‘hackathon’, etc. But how can you apply these techniques in practice for your next project? We compare a classic project approach with more innovative ones with elements of crowdsourcing and co-creation, to learn that there are many ways to engage the colleagues and tap into the wisdom of the crowd. 

The classic project approach

The process would probably like:

  • One team gets the assignment.
  • Interview with stakeholders and customers.
  • Make a proposal.
  • Present proposal at decision committee.
  • Rework proposal.

That’s great because:

  • We’re more in control.
  • The accountability is at the level of one team

But watch out for:

  • Thinking of & working out ideas by same people.
  • Limited amount of different solutions.
  • Iteration time can be long.

Crowd sourcing & co-creation

So, what’s crowd sourcing? It’s a collaborative technique of obtaining ideas by distributing tasks to a large group of people.

Yes! But …

  • + we’ll get many ideas.
  • – there will be much crowd noise.
  • – there will be more chaos.

And co-creation is:

  • Through a series of steps, people are invited to contribute, evaluate, and refine ideas and concepts.
  • The call is not put to an open forum or platform but to a smaller group of individuals with specialized skills and talents.
  • Companies can automate and track some processes while still getting creative ideas

Yes! But…

  • + there are more experts involved.
  • + it’s faster.
  • + we’ll get better ideas.
  • – people are not used to work with customers.
  • – the project team gets feeling of handing out responsibility.

Let’s look at some approaches in practice!

Approach 1 – crowd sourcing with 1 assignment

The process:

  • The project lead writes out an assignment.
  • All employees of the department can hand in a proposal.
  • The project lead select the best 3 (different) proposals that can be worked out.
  • The ideators can form a team and get time & resources for the assignment. Optional: one person of the project team is in the idea team.
  • The teams pitch their idea to the project team and steering committee.
  • One solution is selected to be worked out by the project team, the ideators are involved.

That’s great because:

  • More people are involved.
  • The colleagues feel involved.
  • The employees have the possibility to prove themselves.
  • Very different ideas can be harvested.
  • Different proposals are worked out in parallel by people with a fresh view (new people).

But watch out for:

  • The interest and participation rate can be low.
  • The project lead is not fully in control of worked out solutions.
  • Commitment of time & resources is needed from management.
  • The throughput time can be much longer.

Approach 2 – crowd sourcing with hackathon

A hackathon originates from the IT world where it’s an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development collaborate intensively on software projects. The efforts of all are focussed on a short time deliverable of tangible software. The principle can be applied for non-IT projects too.

The process:

  • We call for colleagues who want to think along.
  • We reserve an offsite location for 1 or 2 days.
  • The participants are divided into teams.
  • The project lead gives the context and the assignment.
  • The teams work out the assignment and during the day they can ask questions and receive help.
  • The ideas are pitched in front of a jury composed out of management and customers.
  • One solution is selected and will further be worked out by the project team.

That’s great because: (some repeated from the previous approach)

  • More people are involved.
  • The colleagues feel involved.
  • The employees have the possibility to prove themselves.
  • Very different ideas can be harvested.
  • Different proposals are worked out in parallel with a fresh view (new people).
  • Very concentrated effort in 1 or 2 days, which means a very short throughput time.
  • The project lead and management can steer the solutions during the day. (more in control)

But watch out for:

  • The interest and participation rate can be low.
  • Commitment of time & resources is needed from management.
  • Management participation is needed.
  • Additional costs for venue and food & drinks.

Approach 3 – crowd sourcing with multiple assignments

This approach is used in the marketing sector for coming to creative solutions. Eg. when asked for working out a campaign for a laundry softener, one team gets the actual assignment, the other team gets the assignment to sell really nice smelling and soft towels.

The process:

  • We call for employees who want to think along.
  • The project lead writes out multiple assignments and changes the description or terms per assignment. The teams don’t know this.
  • The participants form a team and get time & resources for the assignment. Optional: one person of the project team is in the idea team.
  • The teams pitch their idea to the project team and steering committee.
  • One solution is selected to be worked out by the project team, the ideators are involved.

That’s great because:

  • More people are involved.
  • The colleagues feel involved.
  • The employees have the possibility to prove themselves.
  • We are sure that the same challenge is looked at from different angles.
  • Different proposals are worked out in parallel with a fresh view (new people).

But watch out for:

  • Interest and participation rate can be low.
  • The PL is not fully in control of worked out solutions.
  • Commitment of time & resources is needed from management.
  • Experimental approach.

The leap to co-creation

By adding some co-creation elements you can involve other people to think along. A non-exclusive list of examples:

  • Internal customers (eg. leaders from other departments and business lines)
  • External partners
  • External experts
  • External community

This involvement can be integrated in:

  • Ideation & working out the ideas.
  • Evaluation, giving feedback.
  • Jury.

Additional reading

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My favourite quotes about innovation

Innovation quotesInnovation is hot at the moment. In this blog you can find my favourite quotes about innovation. Please use and distribute 🙂

‘When all think alike, then no one is thinking.’
Walter Lippman

‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.’
Rita Mae Brown

‘There ain’t no rules around here. We’re trying to accomplish something!’
Thomas Edison

‘The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.’
Edwin H. Land

‘If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got. ‘
Albert Einstein

‘We cannot solve a problem by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. ‘
Albert Einstein

‘They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. ‘
Andy Warhol

‘Minds are like parachutes; they work best when open. ‘
T. Dewar

‘The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible. ‘
A. Clarke

‘The best ideas lose their owners and take on lives of their own.’
N. Bushnell

‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it. ‘
Alan Kay

‘Throughout history, people with new ideas—who think differently and try to change things—have always been called troublemakers.’
Richelle Mead

‘If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old’
Peter F. Drucker

‘If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.’
Woody Allen

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How to keep up. Social apps that boost your creativity

In this ever-changing world you’ve got to keep up. How do you? Two app’s I recommend.

Our new world is shifting from careers by defined college degrees to talent management. While you used to be safe after spending x years at college and passing all the exams, you now have to prove yourself more than ever. Our organisations demand creative and innovative people. But are you keeping up?

One of the possible ways to boost your creativity is to see what people are doing in totally different sectors. For example, if you work in IT, check out insurances or architecture. So on new year’s eve I decided to read a totally new/different magazine than the ones that I’m used to. Instead of reading HBR, I took an issue of Psychologies. I vowed to do this at least every month: one new magazine each month.

While this originally sounded like a good idea, it was just another piece on my ‘to read’ pile. Next to all the blogs, articles and links that I discover or which are sent to me. Further, there is also a lot of garbage in those magazines: articles that do not interest me and lots and lots of commercials.

So I started looking for another way to keep up and thought: why am I doing all the work myself? Let the social networks help me to see what’s trending.

Below are two apps I use and recommend to keep good ideas coming in.



StumbleUpon is an app that delivers you content from the various interests you select. While you used to go for targeted searches on the Internet, StumbleUpon uses its vast network of users to select content for you. For example, if you are interested in design, the app will deliver you websites about all kinds of design (typography, drawing, interior, etc) one by one. If you like the content, you press like, and if not… well, you know.

Finished with the website? Press “Stumble” and the app will find a new site for you. You really stumble from one discovery onto another. This gives you the opportunity to browse through different sites and different topics, without any obligation. You can use StumbleUpon where you want and nothing is pushed to you. If you like stuff, you can share it or save it for later.

The app also provides different common categories like “trending” and “social”, which are ideal to get new ideas and insights from what’s currently hot on the Internet.

Warning: this app can really be addictive!

More information: http://www.stumbleupon.com/


PinterestAs described in one of our previous blogs, “One week of street combing“, walking around with attention will give you many new ideas. Everywhere around us are inventions and innovative ideas, which we walk by every day … and do not notice because of our busy lives. If you really pay attention you will see great stuff from others. But how do you keep track?

Well, assuming that you own a smartphone, you can take a picture and upload it to Pinterest. The Pinterest app lets you “pin” that “interest” for later referral.

Want to see through other people’s eyes? Browse the Pinterest directory to find users who look at things from a different angle/experience and share it online.

More information: http://www.pinterest.com/


I can really recommend these two apps. Even for leisure purposes 🙂

How do you keep up? Where do you get your ideas from? Please share!

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One week of street combing (straatjutten)

My week in pictures: report of a week street combing (Dutch: straatjutten)

During a strategy workshop for our department, our manager invited a speaker from Flanders DC, the Belgian center for creativity, Peter Bertels (@pbertels). Peter introduced some basic brainstorming techniques like the negative brainstorm, the superhero and association flowers.

But there’s more to creativity than brainstorming: an important part is having an open mind. An open mind will allow more and better (more creative) ideas. Peter advised us to use all our senses: hearing, feeling and seeing. After Peter’s session we got an assignment: take one picture every day of something remarkable you see. In the Netherlands, the concept is known as street combing, “straatjutten”.

Though I already have the tendency of taking a picture with my smartphone of everything remarkable I see, I was surprised how hard  it is to find the one picture every day. For sure if you’re following the same route between home and work while commuting. I did notice I was more aware of my environment: continuously searching for the one picture (of the day) made me more alert and open to stimulus. Kinda like when I have my digital camera around my neck 🙂

You can find the report of one week street combing in the picture below.

One week of street combing (straatjutten)

One week of street combing (straatjutten)

Additional reading

Straatjutten (Dutch)

Flanders DC

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One idea each day – boost your creativity!

Last Monday, Flanders’ Creativity centre, Flanders DC, started the “Een idee per dag” (“one idea each day”) event.

The event runs for one month with as goal to wake up our creative self by submitting a new idea each day, the whole month long. Every Wednesday you get a special topic where you should generate ideas for. As for this Wednesday, the topic is “our daily concerns”.

At first it looks hard to find creative ideas, but they promise it will get easier on the way. There are several book package prizes to win with the competition, as the most creative ideas and the most persevering persons are rewarded. I’m actually diminishing my chances to win a package right now by advertising for this event!

You can subscribe yourself here:


You can find my idea calendar here:


One idea each day - My calendar for April

One idea each day – My calendar for April

Please feel free to comment on my ideas or be the first to join my fan club!

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Not today! Breaking through our culture of no

As a young father I’m still getting used to the never ending challenge of raising up a baby daughter. As my little toddler, Liene, is getting older, she’s also getting to more places. Places like a power outlets, the stairway to our basement and our closet with detergents.

When she was playing with Duplo blocks (and I as foreman was helping her), I found myself correcting irregular constructions and fitting blocks together like it should.

The protection (of all the unsafe stuff) and the correction (of what’s “wrong”) resulted in one of her first words: “no, no, no”. That was the moment I realized my wife and I were already started with conditioning her. Instead of “letting be”, we were learning her that green belongs with green and Duplo blocks should fit together with angles of 0 or 90 degrees.

I was immediately reminded of a small test I participated in during a leadership seminary.

Think of a color.

Think of a tool.

About 80% of the participants responded red and/or hammer!

Why is that figure so high?

During the years in our western culture, education and nurture have shaped and conditioned how we think. (Remark: this conditioning is dependent of the context where you were raised, so other cultures will have other triggers than “red” and “hammer”, but they are there.)

Thinking differently was not ok. An elephant had to be gray, a tree green. You had to color inside the lines, and perspectives needed to be correct.

The problem with this fact is that if everybody thinks the same way, it’s hard to be different, to differentiate yourself. (Belgian painter Roger Raveel actualy got famous by painting “wrong” perspectives)

Preconditioning is also known as one of the reasons why creativity is killed: we are not used to other ideas. It pushes us out of our comfort zone.

What can you do about it?

It first starts with awareness: make yourself aware that you might be thinking like the rest of the herd. The next step is to get creative.

The COCD offers some creativity exercises that can be used to unlock the creative potential of yourself and your colleagues.

Some examples:

  • Flower associations (or idea flowers)
    Flower associations are used to break through the regular contexts and allow you to quickly think further then the obvious meaning of the starting word.
Flower association (idea flower)

Flower association (idea flower)

  • Super Hero
    Super heroes are super people: they can handle every problem. Look at your case through the glasses of different super heroes:
    What if Batman had your function? How would he solve the problem?
    What if The Hulk had your function? How would he solve the problem?
  • Other associations
    Look at your case through the glasses of another company:
    What if Google was a bank? How would performance be?
    What if Ikea was a bank? How would responsiveness be?

What if they say no?

There are many idea killers, but make it your personal assignment to use and spread idea stimulators!

PS: I responsed both red and hammer, but I didn’t need this small test to know that I’m conditioned during the years :-). My goal is to be aware of it.

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Wij lezen voor u: CREASHOCK – Anders denken, Durven doen, Met resultaat

Creashock - cover

Creashock – cover

In het boek Creashock leert auteur Dirk De Boe ons hoe we innovatie in bedrijven kunnen verbeteren door de individuele creativiteit te stimuleren.

Creativiteit en innovatie zijn altijd onderwerpen geweest die me geïnteresseerd hebben en in de winkel werd ik aangetrokken door het luchtige en toffe formaat van de boek. De inhoud is opgebouwd met mindmaps. Regelmatig wordt de theorie gestaafd met voorbeelden en ervaringen van de auteur. Na elk hoofdstuk vind je de kerngedachten terug en enkele links en tips naar meer informatie.

Het feit dat de auteur bij Philips heeft gewerkt en het ontstaan van de beruchte Ambilight heeft meegemaakt, prikkelt mijn interesse des te meer.

In het eerste hoofdstuk wordt bekeken hoe creativiteit ontstaat bij jou als individu. Er worden enkele voor mij reeds gekende tips gegeven zoals: gebruik van de zintuigen, balans tussen linker- en rechterhersenhelft, en het tot rust komen (ontspannen). Voor mij persoonlijk was er vooral bij deze laatste tip een bewustwording. Met de recent vergrootte beschikbaarheid van Internettoegang via smartphones en tablets heb ik de neiging om alle dode momenten in te vullen met informatie van op het Internet. Lange wachtrijen bij de bakker of de ziekenkas zijn minder een probleem omdat ik me bezig kan houden. En daar zit het hem daar net volgens de auteur: we gunnen onszelf geen rust meer. Ik hoor het af en toe wel eens: “mijn beste ideeën vind ik onder de douche, in de auto, …”. De reden daarvoor is dat je bewustzijn dan iets oplevert: alle draadjes zijn verbonden en je hebt een (creatieve) oplossing gevonden. Wanneer we de hele tijd bezig zijn, krijgt ons onderbewustzijn geen tijd voor de nodige processing. Dagdromen is dus meteen ook weer aanvaard.

Creativiteit kan dan weer gestimuleerd worden op verschillende manieren:

  • Creativiteitsruimtes: inspirerende meeting rooms, felle kleuren, andere opzet, …
  • Creativiteitstools zoals brainstorming, lateraal denken, de zes denkhoeden van Edward de Bono.
  • Via ideeënfora: ideeën delen met elkaar, feedback geven, …
  • Uit de context weghalen met bv. offsite brainstorm sessies
  • Andere industrieën bestuderen: hoe innoveren zij?

Dirk De Boe beschrijft in zijn boek het belang aan de opvolgen van innovatieve ideeën. Het feit dat een ideeënbus vaak niet werkt, heeft te maken met dat het vooral eenrichtingsverkeer en anoniem is, maar ook omdat er geen aansprakelijkheid is. Innoveren betekent namelijk meer dan eenregelige ideeën produceren: je moet de bedenkers ook de volgende stappen leren zetten: verder uitwerken, prototype maken, ontwerp presenteren, idee bijwerken, enz. Wanneer de ideeën opgevolgd worden, hebben de deelnemers ook het gevoel dat er naar hun geluisterd wordt. Niets zo demotiverend als ideeën die een stille dood sterven.

Bij innovatie mag je de kracht van de community niet onderschatten. Creatieve geesten brengen andere creatievelingen op gedachten, ze kunnen hulp/gehoor vinden binnen de organisatie, ideeën worden beter uitgewerkt, … Een competitief sausje over het geheel kan ook stimulerend werken.

Het oprichten van een panel is interessant om te shiften tussen de ideeën (niet elk idee kan de eindstreep halen), maar ook om de medewerkers feedback te geven. Belangrijk is hier dat het panel verder kijkt dan het idee zelf en er de mogelijkheden in ziet.

Ideeën belonen zal dan ook weer andere creatievelingen stimuleren. Dit belonen kan via extrinsieke motivatoren (bv. geld), maar werkt beter via intrinsieke motivatoren zoals zichtbaarheid en erkenning.

Wacht niet op dat ene beste idee. Je kan evenveel leren uit je “rakelingen”, pogingen die het net niet gemaakt hebben.

Samengevat is het een leuke boek om te lezen die voor mij eerder in de softe business literatuur past. De auteur legt de waarom uit en gaat een beetje verder in de hoe. Echt praktische implementatie richtlijnen en concreet uitgewerkte voorbeelden ontbreken dan wel. Ik beschouw het boek dan ook eerder als een trigger, een nadenker over hoe je zelf innovatie kan doen landen binnen je organisatie en minder een gids. Je kan natuurlijk niet veel meer verwachten op 152 bladzijden met redelijk wat mindmaps.

Om te eindigen met een quote: “Zoek medestanders en begin er samen aan”.

Meer weten


The Idea Book

Denken als Leonardo Da Vinci

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Creasophy – the teachings of creativity

Last night i went to a creative lecture hosted by COCD, “Centrum voor de Ontwikkeling van het Creatief Denken”, the creativity center in Antwerp.

The main thread was to stop our normal, programmed train of logical thought and explore the more creative part of our brains. During the years our brains keep en keep on learning new stuff. When you are young, you operate at full brain capacity and you create billions of new neurons every day. But your brain is smarter and learns which paths work best. These paths are used over and over again, until they become some sort of highway. The old paths become neglected and after a while are not used anymore.

From that moment on, your brain functions like water in a flow and you take your decisions the easiest way: the way you have been doing for year. This standard is called logical thought.

When people get their most creative ideas, it can happen anyplace: the train, the shower, etc. This is called spontaneous creativity. Because you cannot shower at your workplace to provide great  and creative ideas, the creativity should be translated into a manageable process. They proposed 4 steps: 1 problem and start phase, 2 diverging phase, 3 converging phase and 4 implementation phase.

The key phase here is the diverging phase: it offers ideas and paths that were never even thought in our logical process. Because the diverging phase generates lots and crazy ideas, it is followed by the converging phase: bundling of the ideas to get to phase 4, an implementation.

How to

You don’t need special training for this: you can already start tomorrow: instead of finding only one solution for your problem, find three.

Don’t just keep on working like you do every day: take a step back and try to look forward.

Learn to break you dominant train of thought and back off the familiar thinking patterns.

The only thing you need for this is an open mind!

The climate

You cannot expect creative ideas from your coworkers without offering the right environment for it. Here comes the manager into the picture: it is his task to provide the climate that will foster creative innovation. To make it happen, they have do it by themselves too and lead by example.

An exercise

Creativity squares

Creativity squares

Answer: (select text on the right to see) logical: 1+16+5+4; creative:  infinity!: the word “square”, the dot of the question mark, and also: when didn’t specify where you’d see the squares 😉

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