Ideathon: A Great Way to Get Feedback from Your Employees

The primary objective of an ideathon is to address your business pain points. It’s a great way to encourage new ideas from staff and improve business performance rather than sideline issues.

A Great Way to Get Feedback from Your Employees

                                                                                                                              Money is just an idea.                                                                                                                                 — Robert T. Kiyosaki

What is an ideathon? Well, we can thank the ancient Greeks for originating marathon, pentathlon, and decathlon, all of which reference distance and competition.

So in a sense, an ideathon works on the same principle, only it involves a competition of projects and ideas. The races to be run and distances to be conquered are concepts and challenges of creativity.  

During an ideathon, participants build teams, generate new ideas, and propose their solutions. It seems similar to a hackathon, but this format is somewhat different, though hackathon organizing tips may apply.

So, what’s the difference? A hackathon caters to technical professionals. The result will be a finished product or prototype. An ideathon is more relevant for managers, marketers, and analysts to generate new ideas and develop the project concept.

Why organize an ideathon?

The primary objective of an ideathon is to address your business pain points. It’s a great way to encourage new ideas from staff and improve business performance rather than sideline issues. If some ideas don’t work, open the door to suggesting new ones. The point is to keep the creative juices flowing and promote an atmosphere of energetic contribution.

Internal ideathons benefit both the business and employees interested in developing new ideas to optimize their work. The saying that, 'two negatives make a positive', certainly applies to the ideathon. Companies that understand their weaknesses, and employees interested in correcting and optimizing work processes will produce positive results.

Ideathons act like cheerleaders. They motivate and inspire employees who are passionate about their idea and ready to develop the idea within the company. It’s a great way to boost team spirit by connecting employees from different departments and establishing communication channels.

How should you conduct a successful ideathon?

It typically takes 2 days to conduct an ideathon. Here are the main stages of the process:

Stage 1. Define your problem statement.

The enterprise identifies problem areas and determines the criteria to select the winners.

Stage 2: Announce your event.

The ideathon is announced to the employees. At this initial stage, it’s important to motivate employees to participate in the event.

Stage 3: Gather ideas from employees.

Gather ideas on chosen topics, and pick the most relevant ones. You can do this in two ways. The first option is to proceed with standardized voting to determine the criteria for selecting finalists. The second option is to make all the ideas public and give colleagues a chance to learn more about them and choose the best ones. The best project ideas progress to the next stage.

Stage 4:  Participants finalize their ideas.

At this stage, finalize ideas into a full-fledged business concept. Start by suggesting that participants formalize their idea by using various methods, such as the Lean Canvas method. The Lean Canvas training takes about two hours but will greatly enhance the quality of the ideas.

Stage 5: Project defense.

Ideathon participants are judged by department heads or managers. Eventually, the best teams are awarded valuable prizes determined by the company.

The ideathon format is simple to conduct in offline and online settings. In our tulula portfolio, we have many successful projects with major companies (35,000+ employees). One of the most memorable ideathons tulula hosted was an ideathon “EldoCHARGE” by Eldorado - one of the CIS’ largest retailers of consumer electronics and household appliances. It was the first online event allowing any Eldorado employee to propose ideas to improve business processes. Participants submitted proposals in three areas: customer experience, improvement of internal business processes, and new products/services. The organizers received more than 300 ideas, and 30 ideas advanced to the final stage of the competition.

What do we end up with?

• Employee feedback on the company and work environment

• Fresh ideas on how to improve business processes

• Motivated employees who want to improve the quality of their work

• Well-established communication between company departments

What are our recommendations for organizing ideathons?

1. Forget about limiting employee ideas. The ideathon is a forum for ideas. Let participants run with it for their benefit and the benefit of the company.

2. Always include a prize pool and fun perks for participants like swag or other small gifts. There’s no better way to motivate employees to participate.

3. Implement the best projects. It’s fine to gather ideas as feedback, but without implementing them, it’s only lip service. If projects aren’t implemented, future ideathons won’t generate much enthusiasm among employees, and they won’t be motivated to spend time on projects that won’t be fulfilled.

4. Always provide project feedback. Each team should understand that the time and effort for idea development are appreciated and valued. Otherwise, employees won’t be motivated to participate in upcoming ideathons.

The process might seem initially overwhelming, but what matters is choosing a convenient format and having the right tools at hand. With tulula, you won’t have to worry about it! We offer a unique set of tools developed specifically for online ideathons and other competition formats:

• registration of event participants, team formation

• analytical reports on collected registrations

• integrated voting system and leaderboard formation

• a tool for uploading presentations, videos, documents, and other files

• bulk notifications feature

• internal messenger allowing communication in internal chats and public discussions

• video conferencing features

• integrated voting system for employees to choose the best projects

Ideathons can become an integral part of any corporate culture. They’ll provide your team a welcome distraction from the daily work routine and help the company develop and improve business processes. Don't miss out on this great opportunity to increase employee loyalty and make them love what they do!

Do you want to run engaging online events, ideathons and tech challenges? Are you interested in organizing a hackathon?  Request a demo today.