Grassroots Employee Innovations through Enterprise Crowdfunding in the 1x5 Project
Organizations want to empower their employees to innovate. There are many specialized applications and websites to support these activities. However, decision-making tends to be top-down, and many of these sites require time-consuming post-contribution analyses. We are exploring the use of crowdfunding methods "behind the firewall," using organization-supplied funds that employees can invest in one other employees' projects. Crowdfunding uses the "wisdom of the crowd" to make funding decisions: If other employees (the "crowd") invest enough of their budgeted funds to reach a project's funding target, then budget is committed and the project begins.
We have conducted a successful trial of our enterprise crowdfunding prototype, "1x5," in 2012. Employees participated at unprecedented rates, and proposed creative projects that addressed work projects, corporate culture, and morale. We saw excellent inter-departmental collaboration, and the initiation of many new working relationships. We anticipate conducting several more trials in 2013, building toward an evaluation of whether to move 1x5 from "the lab" into products and services organizations.