The Hallmark Case study of Idea Central – a real test

I was just going through some of our ‘old’ case studies of how Imaginatik‘s Idea Central software is used to support idea management initiatives. We have recently updated the customer case study section of the Imaginatik web site, including all the PPTs and PDFs presented by customers, present and past, on the various uses of Idea Central.

One of the early ones was the Hallmark Idea Spot (free to download – needs registration). The challenge was to develop a new range of products for their Collectibles line – think Christmas tree ornaments, etc. The interesting thing about the project was that it was done as a test to see which ‘ideation’ methodology would be most effective at generating novel, high quality, implementable ideas.

The three initiatives – all done using largely the same business challenge – were:

MIT Media Lab

Eureka Ranch consulting workshop

– Imaginatik’s Idea Central for around 400 general staff members in Hallmark

The outcome? The Media Lab ideas were reported to be ‘too far out there’ – and the cost of subscribing to the Media Lab was on the ‘very high’ side.

The Eureka Ranch session was widely appreciated – it really helped them hone in on the problem / market opportunity they wanted to address. Unfortunately the ideation side was not ideal – it is hard to file for a patent on ideas batted around an open brainstorm session.

The Idea Central session was relatively inexpensive, quick to run, and easy to repeat for other projects (i.e. a scalable, repeatable business process). It generated a lot of on-target ideas in a very short space of time (less than a week), with zero travel time or inconvenience. Interestingly one of the ideas that made it was a platform for picture based collectibles – the ‘idea’ in the system was not actually an idea… it was “You need to speak to xyz in Hallmark, as he has a box full of prototypes that could be really cool”. Sure enough, the guy was contacted and he did indeed have a box full of cool collectible items, which reached the shelves in 2004.

Personalized Tree Ornaments - using peoples photos - thanks to employee ideas!

Personalized Tree Ornaments - using people's photos - thanks to employee ideas!

The presentation itself is a little thin, admittedly! It was presented by Hallmark at the IIR Front End of Innovation conference in 2004.

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