Many papers inside and outside our industry have discussed tapping into the ‘wisdom of the crowd' to meet organizational needs. Many papers have also discussed the need – and methods – to innovate. So perhaps we need to ask ourselves how we can tap into the ‘creativity of the crowd' to better understand what needs to change, identify opportunities for improvement or new market spaces to explore, share technologies across disciplines and industries and attract new types of talent.

Cultivating and supporting innovation can be a significant challenge within any organization. Empowering people to generate new ideas should be a part of successful business organization. One should be mindful that innovation knows no boundaries and can happen for anyone at anytime. This becomes apparent within each of us when we ask "What if…?"

There are several challenges in capturing these innovative thoughts in the proper context and putting them in front of the appropriate audience. This includes creating a mechanism for stakeholders to share their ideas, a process for management review and monitor submissions, the ability to bounce ideas off the ‘wisdom of the crowd' and tools to connect the R&D effort to stakeholders throughout the development process.

We have addressed this challenge through the creation of an IDEA system and using existing knowledge management tools to affect the development and commercialization process. The approach allows the entry and tracking of submissions through the process while maintaining intellectual property security.

This paper discusses cases where these new tools and processes effectively managed and nurtured innovation within and between product service lines. Typical barriers that have hindered end users from sharing innovative ideas will be highlighted along with solution measures utilized. Finally, areas of future exploration related to the effort will be identified.

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