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Ideas and Microsoft Teams

A best practice guide to running employee idea campaigns on Microsoft Teams

Learn how to harness the power of your employees' ideas through Microsoft Teams.

 

Microsoft Teams is quickly becoming the hub for collaboration and communication between employees. But how can companies turn this collaboration into innovation that delivers real business impact?

One way is through encouraging employees to share their ideas or solutions to business challenges directly in Teams.

Microsoft Teams & Sideways 6Collecting ideas in Teams means that, for employees, sharing an idea is as simple as posting in a channel. There’s no need to navigate to a different application therefore removing the ‘lack of engagement’ barrier often experienced by standalone innovation platforms.

You’re simply capturing ideas in the spaces where they happen naturally.

At Sideways 6 we’ve helped some of the world best and biggest companies listen to over half a million employee ideas. We’ve learned a lot along the way and this guide aims to pass on some of those learnings and best practice to you.

It’s structured around the s6 model, which is our six-part framework for helping companies capture, manage and implement employee ideas at scale.

Employee Ideas Funnel-1

In this article, we'll walk you through a step-by-step guide to running a great employee ideas campaign on Microsoft Teams.

To give it context, we'll show you the eight steps we took here at Sideways 6 in asking our employees for their ideas on how we could make the business more sustainable and reduce our negative impact on the environment. 


Step 1 | Plan your campaign

To run the best employee ideas campaign with Teams and Sideways 6 it’s important to start with why. Understanding the objective of the campaign and what question or challenge you want solved is critical before you start.

 

All organizations start with why, but only the great ones keep their why clear year after year.

-----  Simon Sinek  -----

To kick off the process you can set up a group chat with key stakeholders to discuss the project and nail down the details such as:

  • Timeframe - How long are you going to run the campaign for?
  • Budget - What resources can you put to implementing ideas?
  • Roles and responsibilities - Who is going to own key parts of the process such as communications, idea management and review? 
  • Success criteria - And most importantly of all, what does success looks like to your business?

All of this can be discussed using Teams itself of course. In our instance we setup a private channel just for the people responsible for managing the campaign: 

Sideways 6 | Microsoft Teams idea team

Step 2 | Capture ideas from Teams

Capturing ideas from Teams is really easy with Sideways 6 and will happen automatically. All you need to do is decide which Team(s) or Channel(s) you’d like to integrate with based on who your target audience is.  

We suggest setting up a new Team and calling it something catchy and inspiring. For our internal sustainability-themed campaign, we decided to go with ‘Thinking Green’ and collect ideas from the ‘General’ channel in this team.

If you’re running targeted campaigns that will run for a finite period of time, simply set up a channel for the project under your selected Team and point the integration to this new channel. This channel can then be archived after the project has concluded.

Sideways 6 | Sustainability campaign

Now you need to choose your audience. Think about who you want to get ideas from and invite them to the Team by either;

  1. Sharing the channel link in other Teams
  2. Sharing the join with code in other Teams
  3. Sharing the above into private groups or chats
  4. Adding members manually to the Team

Pro-Tip

Remember Sideways 6 can collect from different channels separately but if you point the integration at the Team it will collect ideas from all channels within that team.


Step 3 | Launch your campaign

Once you have Teams set up, Sideways 6 configured and you have invited your audience to the relevant Team it’s time to launch your campaign! 

A great way to do this is to use the “Announcement” functionality to kick off the channel in style with a catchy image and a short description as to what the channel is for and the goals of the campaign.

Sideways 6 | Thinking Green Teams campaign

You can also use the Wiki functionality to create a more detailed user guide so idea submitters are really clear on how to submit their ideas and engage with the campaign.

Pro-Tip

Don't forgot to make use of other channels and media to boost engagement. For example, email newsletters, videos, launch events and executive announcements.


Step 4 | Manage ideas at scale

When managing ideas in Sideways 6, we recommend using our best practice idea management stages and statuses to manage your ideas most effectively.

Stages represent the sequence of steps in your idea management process, from capturing ideas to bringing the best ones to life

The best way to think of this is like a funnel, with ideas only passing through to the next stage if they meet your set criteria:

  • Qualify - Determine whether submissions are real ideas within scope of the campaign 
  • Develop - Enrich ideas with additional information necessary to evaluate them
  • Evaluate - Assess ideas against pre-determined criteria to pick the ones to be implemented 
  • Implement - Put selected ideas into practice and track delivery progress
  • Delivered – The final phase, used to mark ideas as complete and capture the realised benefits of successfully implemented ideas

Sideways 6 | Idea stages

The same is true for the idea statuses which are labels that tell you what is happening to individual ideas as they move through your pipeline.

By default, Sideways 6 includes the following statuses:

  • New (Default) - An idea that has been newly submitted into the ideation campaign
  • Active – An idea that has been qualified and accepted into the ideation campaign
  • Waiting – An idea that is waiting on some other person to complete an action before it can progress, e.g. waiting for review or waiting for more engagement from campaign participants
  • Completed – An idea that has successfully been delivered and its benefits realised at the end of the workflow
  • Deferred – An idea that has successfully passed review but cannot be implemented right now (e.g. due to capacity or financial limitations and may be picked up in 6 months from now)
  • Rejected - An idea that is not being taken forward. There are multiple rejection reasons available by default such as 'Out of scope', 'Solution exists already', 'Not enough value' and 'No demand'.  

Getting your stages and statuses set up early will help you manage ideas effectively as they come in from Teams.

You can also use the chatbot functionality within Sideways 6 to help employees develop their ideas further in a friendly, conversational way. This helps ensure that you capture all the information you need to be able to evaluate the ideas effectively.


Step 5 | Find the best ideas

Shortlisting ideas with Sideways 6 is a simple process. Just select the ideas you want to send to Review, define your review criteria and choose your expert panel of reviewers.

Reviewers will receive an email notification inviting them to review the ideas. You have the option to customize the email invite with your company logo, theme colour and copy so go wild and make it as engaging as you possibly can.  

Sideways 6 | Expert Review

 

Alternatively, you can use the power of the crowd to shortlist top ideas by the number of likes or comments they have in Teams. Depending on the scale of your campaign, this can be a neat and efficient way of prioritising the best ideas.


Step 6 | Bring ideas to life

By this stage you’ve decided on the handful of ideas you’d like to implement, hooray!

When implementing ideas, it’s a good idea to think back to your original budget and plan. Perhaps you have an explicit limit on the number of ideas you can implement. If so, consider whether you need to whittle the ideas down further.

 

Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up because they're looking for ideas.

-----  Paula Poundstone  -----

A helpful way of doing this is to categorize ideas on an effort vs reward matrix, this will enable you to identify potential 'quick wins' and 'bigger bets'.

  • Which ideas are low-hanging fruit that you could implement relatively quickly?
  • Which ideas have significant potential but require a longer-term commitment to bring them to life?

The mix of ideas you decide to implement will depend on your business objectives and the level of resources at your disposal.

And where better to kickstart the implementation process than directly in Teams where you can connect the people with the relevant knowledge and experience to bring projects to life.

Sideways 6 | Idea teamSimply set up a chat group or Team with the project team, idea submitter and anyone else that needs to be involved in to make the idea a reality!


Step 7 | Keep idea submitters engaged

Engaging with idea submitters throughout the entire campaign is paramount to success. There’s no greater killer of creativity than having submitters feel like their ideas are just going into a black hole.

 

The only thing worse than not being asked to share your ideas, is sharing an idea and hearing nothing back about it.

-----  Will Read  -----

In Sideways 6 you can set up automated communications to update idea submitters at every stage of the journey. For example, upon submission you can send a message thanking the submitter for getting involved in the campaign.

You can then send subsequent messages congratulating them when their idea reaches certain milestones such as a given number of likes or comments.

Sideways 6 | Ideas commsAll of this acts to close the feedback loop and keep employees engaged in the campaign.


Step 8 | Analyse your campaign

Sideways 6 has some powerful analytics functionality and it’s up to you how you best use this. Think about what is meaningful for you and your business to measure and what kind of KPIs you want to track.

You can track things like top contributors, top ideas, who your influencers are, what the most talked about topics are in your campaign.

Sideways 6 | AnalyticsIt’s also important to consider how you recognize contributors and communicate the success of the winning ideas to the wider business.

Think about the ROI they stand to generate and what tool you can use to communicate this impact be it a company announcement, newsletter, magazine etc.


In summary

So, there you have it! Teams is an excellent platform for not only listening to your employees’ ideas but also implementing them. With the power of Teams and Sideways 6 you can quickly set up campaigns around specific business goals and collect ideas where they are already happening.

Setting up a Teams campaign couldn't be easier and with native functionality like chat, video calling and file sharing, you can bring a campaign from concept to launch in no time.

The Sideways 6 platform will enable you to find and surface the best ideas, communicate with employees through Teams and manage the ideas through to success!

Time to start innovating

Email us at beer@sideways6.com for a free six pack of idea beer and get your creative juices flowing!

Sideways 6 and Teams - Bertie

Sideways 6 and Microsoft Teams

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