The ultimate suggestion box: “Ideas for Change” at RichRelevance

I started working at RichRelevance about 3 months ago. In this brief span of time, I have found the team, attitude, verve and work culture to be impressive, and I am enjoying my experience thoroughly. While many different initiatives are in flight within the company, I’d like to shed some light on one particularly innovative concept called “Ideas for Change,” wherein an initial idea is solicited and vetted over a month-long process.

As a start, each “idea” is posted on our internal Wiki page where one can also ask clarifying questions or post comments. This makes the process more engaging from day 1; understanding the origin of an idea involves tremendous reasoning, and rational thinking. Imagine how exciting it could be to rationalize bright new ideas while taking a break from your mundane grind. The process itself sparks creative thinking and becomes as rewarding as the outcome. In the past, I have seen people hesitate to put forth ideas because it would require that they drive and implement it. But with “Ideas for Change,” our “idea” is executed not individually but collectively by the company’s support system. After each employee allocates his or her two votes, votes are tallied, and the best idea wins!

Founded in 2011, the program was a huge success out of the gate. The concept for “Ideas for Change” came out of the RichRelevance Book Club. Talk about yet another innovative idea! The big winner from 2011 was “De-organizational Coaching” suggested by Sean Pfister, our master of analytics.  We did not stop at just this one idea; we actually went ahead and considered—then executed—runners-up such as  the Multivariate Testing (MVT) framework originated by Brad Cerenzia, our head of customer innovation.  Kudos to these creative thinkers and big thanks for coming up with such brilliant ideas. It is exciting to see innovations developed based on an idea that sprung forth simply by motivating and encouraging team members to think differently.

How many organizations encourage employees to think creatively, and suggest changes outside their work domain?  How many more ask employees to break standard ways of doing business and think about it differently? And it doesn’t stop there; here, ideas are embraced, sponsored, and implemented to completion. I believe this process of ideation helps an individual think “outside the box,” and consider things other than his/her daily tasks, whether it is in one’s particular domain or not. It sparks a latent creative energy that in the long term helps us collaborate effectively, be more productive, and solve problems more efficiently…together.

The Ideas for Change 2012 program has just kicked-off under the tutelage and guidance of Mike DeCourcey, Co-Founder and Director of Engineering. The response so far is overwhelming and we already have some great ideas on the wiki, such as “invite external industry experts, customers and partners to share war stories or talk about what they are doing with RichRelevance.”  My contribution so far is to have a bootcamp/training program not only for new hires but also for internal role transitions such as managers moving to the other side of the fence; some companies are utilizing this to bring employees up to speed and create a more structured ramp-up period. Voting is scheduled to take place on the week of Oct 29th.

I would like to thank our CEO, Dave Selinger, for encouraging me to blog about this concept I hope that many more companies and individuals will consider adopting their own ideas for change.

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