Creative solutions to complex problems are often hiding in plain sight. Sometimes, all an organization needs is a fresh pair of eyes. And if one set of fresh eyes is good, given the evolution of communications technology, a million sets are exponentially better.
Enter InnoCentive, a Wiki-style research and development site that rewards people for creative problem solving. Corporations and nonprofits can post mathematical, economic, and scientific problems on the site, offering a cash reward for the best solutions. For example, a tableware manufacturer is soliciting a written proposal for lightweight, chip-resistant ceramic plates. The reward for the best proposal is 20 grand, and anybody can weigh in with a solution. Given its low-risk, high-yield equation, the InnoCentive model of R&D has nearly endless crossover potential into other markets. It may even signal a significant change in the way corporations approach problem solving.