The Big Hunt for Ideas is our crowd-based innovation program. We recognize the potential of employees to surface ideas that can lead to new products, new services, or better efficiencies in the ways that we work together. The Big Hunt for Ideas gives our staff a place to share their ideas with colleagues in an environment where the ideas can “socialize” through online discussion boards and engage other like-minded staff in a thoughtful conversation. When ideas start to gather broad support, the likelihood that the idea will move forward into the testing phase increases. At any given time, we have over 50 ideas in the “Idea Pipeline” where they are incubating and waiting for an opportunity to validate and accelerate. It is through this process that we know we will find the next big ideas that will help our students find success.
Staff members who work with students in classrooms, hallways, parking lots and cafeterias every day are much more likely to see the gaps in service, the unmet needs, or the opportunities that may have been overlooked. If we aren't listening to front-line staff, it is unlikely that these gaps, unmet needs or opportunities will ever be addressed. Over the past years, six new “Big” programs have been launched based on ideas submitted by staff… ideas like VANTAGE, Tonka Online, and Design for Learning. In addition to these large-scale programs, there have been countless small and medium ideas that have impacted the lives of students and staff. Over time, the culture of innovation in our District has created a “what if?” culture that is uniquely focused on the needs of students in a rapidly changing world.
The Big Hunt for Ideas typically runs during October, November and December. Innovation Coaches at each site help organize and communicate during the event. Staff can simply log in and view ideas, or they can submit ideas, comment on ideas, and vote on ideas. Participants can click “Tell a Friend” to send an email with information about an idea, and participants can offer to join as a Team Member as a way of showing support. All idea submissions (Idea Champions) will include tags that reference the eight dimensions of the Teaching and Learning Instructional Framework.
Our innovation program has been run centrally by the Innovation Guiding Team. Each site team consists of parents and staff who share an interest in the art and science of innovation. Under the shared leadership of the principal and the innovation coach, site teams will align with the District’s Big Hunt for Ideas as well as our larger effort to test the most compelling small, medium and big ideas and to scale them whenever possible. Parents who volunteer for this site team will provide professional expertise and personal enthusiasm for the development of innovative behaviors and practices, and will help attract other parents and community members who may have expertise in specific areas where the team is working. Site Innovation Teams increase the number of people involved in our innovation efforts while also increasing the speed at which the we can respond to staff ideas. As the number of people involved in this work increases, the culture of innovation in our District grows deeper and our connections to the community through parent involvement create new opportunities for collaboration and new opportunities for our students.
To learn more about innovation in Minnetonka: