What happens when you compel people to innovate — do you end up with better or worse ideas? And how is crowdfunding shifting the power paradigm for women?
These are some of the questions we ask — and answer — in our new magazine Experimental: Stories from Innovation Growth Lab, which showcases examples of experiments we have been supporting through our IGL grants programme that show how good evaluations can change people’s minds and lead to better decisions.
It’s an attitude which has propelled the work of IGL over the years. We believe that a more experimental approach to innovation and growth policy is needed — that asking "what could work" is an important step to knowing what works, and therefore what could be more effective. We know that successful businesses experiment all the time: iterating and tweaking new ideas until they know that they deliver maximum value and efficiency. But governments have been slower to take up this approach.
Too often, policymakers face challenges without clear solutions — under pressure to act they will choose an existing approach, usually with one design and the hope that it will work.
The IGL is helping to shift this approach, by testing assumptions, uncovering new insights, developing new approaches and validating impacts.
In Experimental we explore three stories that shine a light on this more iterative, experimental approach. In one, we learn about hidden innovators and how we may be missing out many breakthrough ideas by not encouraging more people to innovate.
Driven by a desire to throw the net wider for new ideas, this IGL-funded trial, run within a yearly company-wide innovation competition, sought to encourage more employees to come forward with ideas. Using simple behavioural nudges, the experiment revealed it was possible to encourage more people to get involved in the competition and, crucially, that the quality of ideas remained as high.
This experiment showed it’s not only people who volunteer or see themselves as “innovators” that have good ideas.
Another story investigates whether equity crowdfunding could be a secret weapon for female entrepreneurs.
In this experiment, the researchers revealed a female co-founder of a new venture to some investors, and a male co-founder of the same venture to other investors. Despite the barriers females traditionally face in accessing finance, this research found that investors were as likely to be interested in the female-led venture as the male-led one. So, equity crowdfunding might offer a strong alternative to female entrepreneurs seeking funds to grow their businesses.