We're looking for FRESH ideas!

The Innovation Challenge is a Countywide event where employees come together to develop ideas that will improve the organization.

Participants will form teams and have the chance to collaborate with their team members and consult with subject matter experts to build out a presentation for their idea.

Presentations will be judged and prizes will be awarded to winning teams. 

Innovation Challenge Graphic

The 2022 Innovation Challenge will be a Hybrid event with virtual and in-person components!

  • Virtually collaborate with your team to create a 3-minute video presenting an innovative idea for a chance to win CASH PRIZES!
  • Judges will review all entries and determine the finalists
  • Finalists will be invited to present their ideas in person to a panel of distinguished judges and a live audience

More information will be given closer to the event! Check back here and watch your email inbox for announcements!

Questions? Email hrwebmaster@smcgov.org


The Innovation Challenge is part of the Stars Program. For more information about our Stars Awards please visit https://www.smcgov.org/hr/county-stars-awards


 

Questions?

Innovation Challenge Flyer

Check our FAQ below or email hrwebmaster@smcgov.org.

Ask a Question
What is the Innovation Challenge?

The Innovation Challenge is a Countywide event where employees come together to develop ideas that will improve the organization. Participants will form teams and have the chance to collaborate with their team members to build out a 3-minute presentation for their idea. Presentations will be judged and prizes will be awarded to winning teams. 

Can I attend the Innovation Challenge on County time?

Yes, as long as you have supervisor approval. The Innovation Challenge will count for training hours in LMS.

What can I win at the Innovation Challenge?

The judges will determine the winning teams. Prizes TBD.

How do I form a team?

You must form your team and come up with an idea/concept before the registration deadline.

Teams must be comprised of 3-5 County employees. Contingent workers, volunteers, and Court employees are not eligible.

Once you have formed your team, each team member should obtain supervisor approval and register for the event in LMS.

After you register you will receive an email invitation to a survey where you will provide your team name, names of your team members, and a brief summary of the idea you plan to present at the Innovation Summit.

Does every individual who participates in the Innovation Challenge need to submit an idea when they register?

No. Each team (3-5 people) needs one idea/concept.

Who can and cannot participate in the Innovation Challenge?

Regular, term, interns/fellows and extra-help employees are all eligible to participate in the event with supervisor approval.

Contingent employees, contractors, court employees, and volunteers are not eligible to participate.

Will I have to explain my idea in detail when I register?

No. The follow-up survey only requires a short description of your idea/concept. You will be given the opportunity to develop and refine your idea/concept at the event with your team.

What happens when I register my team and our idea?

The Innovation Challenge Committee, comprised of representatives from multiple County departments, will review each idea/concept description to ensure that it complies with competition rules.

Teams with ineligible ideas will be notified by the Innovation Challenge Committee.

Can I join more than one team?

No.

How will I share my idea to the judges?

Teams will record a 3-minute presentation for the judges. 

You will only have 3-minutes to make your pitch. The 3-minute time limit is strictly enforced. 

The Innovation Challenge committee will provide instructions on how to create and submit your presentation using Flip. More information about Flip can be found at https://info.flip.com/

What if my team’s idea is deemed to be ineligible by the committee?

The Innovation Challenge Committee will contact any teams who submit ineligible ideas and give them 1 business day to revise and resubmit their concept for the committee to review.

Please confirm your team's idea is eligible before submission. Ideas submitted to the Innovation Summit may NOT:

  • Involve salary and benefit changes, including classification, position, salary, employee benefits, retirement, or any other compensation to employees 

  • Require collective bargaining or meet and confer 
  • Concern personal matters or complaints 
  • Involve the enforcement of existing rules, policies and procedures  
  • Require legislative or court actions

Individuals who are in a position to implement the idea are not eligible for an award.

Who are the judges?

The judging panel will be comprised of subject matter experts, County executives, and/or department heads.

What if I have an idea/concept but can’t find a team?

If you are having trouble finding a team, you can recruit team members through the Yammer or contact jtgoebel@smcgov.org

Will there be people with expertise in different County functions to assist teams with questions?

If you have questions about County operations/policy when building out your idea/concept, the Innovation Challenge Committee will be on hand to provide assistance/find the answer.

What can we expect the day of the event? Should we bring our idea flushed out and spend the day creating a pitch? Or just have preliminary data and expect to have time to flush out the idea?

After a brief welcome we will dismiss the teams to start working in a virtual breakout room.

During this time most of the teams spend a little time flushing out the idea and then start crafting their presentations to the judges. Since this may be the first time the team is meeting to discuss the idea in person, there is usually some brainstorming and decisions to be made about the idea and what is priority to pitch to the judges in the 3 minute time period.

Watch the clock, use your time wisely. We'll make periodic time announcements during the work time. We'll also have the Innovation Challnege Committee members on hand to help answer any questions you may have about different programs or policies at the County.

Here's a tip: Don’t save the important stuff to the end of the pitch…some teams have run out of time just as they got to the idea because they spent so much time on background. 3 minutes goes really fast!

For the pitch, will we need to have considered the implementation steps or just introduce the concepts?

One of the things your presentation will be scored on is feasibility, so you may want to touch upon implementation in your presentation but you do not have to have it planned out and go into details about it! 

Can you share past innovation summit presentations?

We have compiled a list of past ideas from the 2015, 2016, and 2018 Innovation Summit events.

What types of ideas are NOT allowed?

Ideas submitted to the Innovation Summit may NOT:

  • Involve salary and benefit changes, including classification, position, salary, employee benefits, retirement, or any other compensation to employees 

  • Require collective bargaining or meet and confer 
  • Concern personal matters or complaints 
  • Involve the enforcement of existing rules, policies and procedures  
  • Require legislative or court actions

Individuals who are in a position to implement the idea are not eligible for an award.

What are the categories/judging criteria for the ideas?

Ideas will be filtered by 2 categories:

  • Internal: benefiting County Employees
  • External: benefiting the public/customers/constiuents/patients

Judges will rate each idea on a scale of 1-5 (5 being highest) in each of these 3 criteria:

  • Innovative – The idea must be forward thinking and responsive to the evolving needs of the County and its residents.  
  • Impactful – The idea must have a positive impact on a large or special population and minimal negative externalities. 
  • Feasible – The idea must be achievable within reasonable means.
What happens to the ideas/presentations after the event?

The Innovation Challenge committee will prepare a summary of all the ideas submitted for the event and share them with the Board of Directors for review. 

Are there any specific topics I should think about?

We encourage employees to think creatively about ways to improve services for the public or County employees.

If you need some help for inspiration, please review the Board of Supervisor priorities that were including in the recently approved budget. 

  • End homelessness
  • Economic recovery efforts focused on socially vulnerable populations
  • Housing needs
  • Support of local business communities
  • Racial and social equity

County Executive Mike Callagy also has some areas of special interest:

  • Gun violence
  • Voter turnout
  • Employee recruitment
  • Affordable housing for employees
  • How to connect with the public in meaningful ways

Please make sure your idea is eligible before you submit it. Ideas submitted to the Innovation Summit may NOT:

  • Involve salary and benefit changes, including classification, position, salary, employee benefits, retirement, or any other compensation to employees 

  • Require collective bargaining or meet and confer 
  • Concern personal matters or complaints 
  • Involve the enforcement of existing rules, policies and procedures  
  • Require legislative or court actions

Registration has Closed!

Innovation Challenge Flyer

Registration has closed. Thank you for your interest. Please watch for announcements about the ideas presented at the 2022 Innovation Challenge.