The following post was written by Tim O'Brien, InnoCentive's Marketing Manager.
A successful solution contains more than great ideas -- the presentation of those ideas is equally vital. Solvers frequently ask us "how should I format my solution?" This is a difficult question, as every Challenge is different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution template (we've awarded submissions that range from two paragraphs to over 100 pages). Instead of providing an overly restrictive template or form for submissions, we suggest keeping in mind a few simple guidelines. Below are three past blog posts from our client services teams that highlight some common themes and best practices for developing and presenting a winning solution.
Not sure where to begin? Start with these 10 tips based on previous winning solutions. Remember if you have a Challenge-specific question, you can communicate with the Seeker using the "Messages" tab in the Challenge Project Room.
"The most successful Solvers usually ask a few direct questions early on [via the "Messages" tab in the Challenge Project Room] to make sure they understand the problem correctly. They may also mention an idea of two briefly to see if I think they are reasonable in my and the Seeker’s opinions. They are not looking for yes or no if it will be a winning solution, but just making sure there is not some “red flag” item that they are missing where they might be wasting their time from the start."
"I find it very helpful when Solvers conclude their proposals with a special section where they repeat every individual requirement – one by one — followed by a short summary of how the solution addresses this point."
We've also recently updated out Solver Resources page to include several free online tools for information gathering, analysis, and collaboration.
Let me know in the comments if these guidelines are helpful, and what further direction we can provide for you. Are there any other online tools that you frequently use for developing solutions? To the winning Solvers out there: what other guidelines or suggestions would you give to a less experienced Solver?
Best of luck!