innovation lab

Bottom-up Beats Top Down

Occasionally, innovations are born in the CEO suite and pushed downward, but this is a limiting innovation paradigm. Leaders get much more powerful results if they foster a bottom-up innovation process designed to inspire anyone, anywhere in the agency so that new ideas are continuously emerging organically and moving forward for testing and implementation. Kiewit, ITD and CalTrans all use digital crowdsourcing platforms for ideation across their agencies. At these agencies, leadership on innovation literally emerges across the agency as personnel vote on their peers ideas and select the best for implementation.

  • ‘Crowdsourcing Ideas’ Website - Caltrans uses a third party digital platform called Ideascale to help its 20,000 employees innovate. The Ideascale-hosted website give employees at any level a simple 24/7 way to submit, comment on, and vote for ideas. At Caltrans, the Ideascale system is used to select innovations with the most votes for further evaluation and implementation. The idea of crowdsourcing innovation came in part from efforts to learn from how innovation works at tech businesses in California’s Silicon Valley.
  • Innovate ITD! SharePoint Site – To make innovation easier, the Innovation Team created a web platform using SharePoint that functions as a digital suggestion box. The form used for the idea submission requires submitters to quantify impacts in terms of hours saved or dollars. An auto-reply email goes out to the person who submitted an idea through SharePoint, encouraging them to reach out to their innovation stewards.
  • Times 7 - Times 7 is a feature of the Innovate ITD! SharePoint site that allows employees to search ideas by district, so that people in different districts can learn from each other an ideas can spread across the state.


Critical innovation characteristics influencing the acceptability of new pharmaceutical product format: The authors argue that while key decision-makers need to adopt innovation and communicate that decision to the organization—employees must have buy-in as well for ultimately to be successful.