Accenture Innovation Grapevine Uses Web 2.0 to Spur Creative Business Solutions

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The idea is a simple one: take a seed, plant it into fertile ground, allow it to germinate and flower into a grapevine and then transform the best grapes into fine wine. <br /><br />This is the thinking behind the Accenture Innovation Solutions Network, aka the Innovation Grapevine, that uses Web 2.0 technology and rich Internet applications to take an idea from early concept to execution readiness using mass collaboration between a large number of employees, business partners or customers.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a little like the old game &lsquo;telephone,&rsquo; where what ends up at the end often looks very different than how it began,&rdquo; said Michael Bechtel, a senior manager at Accenture&rsquo;s Growth and Strategy Team in Chicago, and developer of the project. &ldquo;With the Grapevine, you take a business problem, and through various pieces that are added over time, begin to develop enhanced and improved solutions. These ideas are then rated, the best separating from the rest over time.&rdquo; <br /><br />Offering an end-to-end ideation process, the Grapevine passes the initial challenge (the &ldquo;seed&rdquo;) via a wiki, an electronically shared composition and editing environment, to a large network of participants who contribute their solution ideas in different directions (the &ldquo;vine&rdquo;). This same network then rates each idea on simple &ldquo;love it/leave it&rdquo; basis, collaboratively voting the best into an executive summary (the &ldquo;wine&rdquo;). The tool can be used effectively by 50 or 50,000 participants. <br /><br />&ldquo;This shouldn&rsquo;t be confused with a gigantic electronic suggestion box, which typically entails single employees dropping dead-end notes into the void,&rdquo; said Bechtel. &ldquo;Instead, similar to Wikipedia, only inverting it to encourage diversity of opinion and individual creativity, the Grapevine asks a public question and asks people to engage with as many creative solutions and variations possible. This results in a &lsquo;chain of inspiration&rsquo; &mdash; ideas branching from ideas, morphing and improving from one person to the next. By then voting for their favorites, the same community then ensures that the cream rises to the top.&rdquo; <br /><br />On the screen, participants peruse a dynamic, ever-changing vine filled with grapes that are white (ideas which have yet to be seen), light green (seen but not yet rated), medium green (already voted on by the participant) or dark green (idea suggested by the participant). <br /><br /><strong>Successful Pilot </strong><br />Fifty ideas or &ldquo;grapes&rdquo; were harvested for specific product and process issues in a pilot program recently conducted by Wells Fargo. More than 250 participants from around the country used the Accenture Innovation Network to generate these ideas, many of which were selected for further investigation and, in some cases, implementation. The pilot fostered employee engagement and awareness, with Accenture being asked to institutionalize the Innovation Grapevine at the company. <br /><br />&ldquo;The electric light bulb didn&rsquo;t come from the continuous improvement of candles. We&rsquo;re seeing corporate pendulums beginning to swing away from continuous cost-cutting strategies,&rdquo; said Bechtel. &ldquo;Our clients are increasingly looking for creative new revenue ideas instead of ways to cut corners. We believe the Grapevine creates a process and a platform that can support this at scale.&rdquo;

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