Happy New Year’s Eve! On this last day of 2010, I’m looking back at where we started and finished in our own innovation projects and how we accomplished our goals. How did you do in that respect? Did you notice any trends that can help your business in 2011?

One of the bigger trends of course is our quest to understand how social media can grow and expand our business. I’ve noticed that this past year many more companies have used social media in their pursuit of useful ideas than ever before.  I enjoyed reading a report from Greener World Media about crowdsourcing when it comes to sustainability projects.

The article looks at three efforts by GE’s Smart Grid challenge, eBay’s Green Team, and a leading European retailer’s green customer foray and how those leaders used crowdsourcing to generate sustainability ideas. Check it out.

One example that stood out to me was this summer’s “GE ecomagination Challenge: Powering the Grid.”The company and other firms spent $200 million to grab ideas from society via a new website. Nearly 4,000 ideas were submitted over a three-month period, and at the end there were more than 70,000 comments to sift through. GE held a contest for the best ideas and announced the winners earlier this month.

If you want to try something similar, the article suggests three rules to make your campaign successful:

1. Be painfully clear about the results you want from your campaign.

2. Embrace transparency.

3. Link the campaign to co-value creation.

In GE’s case, it asked participants to send forth their best thinking to create initiatives that would enhance an aspect of their own lives. Making it personal was the evident key in this crowdsourcing experiment.

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