Bring on the competition!

How to kick-start innovation? Use a ‘tournament’ to generate ideas – lots of them – and cull using a framework designed to identify the best. So says Wharton researcher, Christian Terwiesch, co-author of Innovation Tournaments: Creating and Selecting Exceptional Opportunities. A recent tournament inspired by the book challenged innovators from around the world to compete for cash prizes and generated more than 160 submissions from six continents. Entries dealt with problems ranging from world peace to customer data and carbon credits. Similar to concepts such as American Idol, innovation tournaments can help whittle down a large pool of diverse notions through several rounds of vetting, according to the authors. “It’s a departure from the previous world view … that innovation is a random outcome, that sparks illuminate and something just happens,” says Terwiesch.


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