The Project\u2002::\u2002Implement a cloud-based crowdsourcing platform and innovation-management process to mine revenue-\u00adgenerating ideas from Chubb\u2019s 10,400 employees and hundreds of thousands of external agents.\n \nThe Business Case\u2002::\u2002Facing the most difficult market since the Great Depression, leaders of the $13 billion insurer knew they needed fresh ideas to profit in an increasingly competitive, slow-growth environment. In June 2008, Chubb\u2019s board funded a strategy to\u2014somehow, some way\u2014harness the brainpower of its employees on five continents via regular \u201cinnovation events.\u201d The first one would take place within three months.\n \nFirst Steps\u2002::\u2002Executives assumed they could repurpose a system they used to support virtual corporate gatherings, but it wasn\u2019t up to the task. \u201cWe had to get a global program up and running from scratch,\u201d says Chubb CIO James Knight. The platform had to be reliable, intuitive and cheap\u2014the implementation budget was $250,000. \u201cThat\u2019s a really tall order,\u201d Knight says, one that narrowed the vendor field quickly.\n \n They selected a collaboration tool from Imaginatik, which partnered with IBM to deliver the system. The process for provisioning software at Chubb had evolved from buying before building to \u201crenting\u201d before doing either. The software-as-a-service application met all of the company\u2019s business requirements and gave Knight\u2019s team a chance to experiment with the cloud.\n \n Chubb hosted its first innovation event using the system in October 2008. Employees submitted and commented on ideas during a two-week period, then tracked the vetting process through six stages. Ideas were assessed first according to their feasibility, then cross-functional teams scored the proposed business cases. After full business cases were developed, the best ideas were funded and executed. The system also shows the financial performance of each project and whether it had to be decommissioned for failing to meet its target.\n \n The first event yielded hundreds of profit-making ideas, 12 of which were developed. Four ideas have been delivered, including two product innovations: a new underwriting process for commercial inland marine policies and a simpler online process for drug companies buying liability insurance for clinical trials. Now the system is being used to collect and vet other types of innovations. For example, Chubb is collaborating with its independent brokers to create new customer-facing services and processes.\n \nWhat to Watch Out For\u2002::\u2002Knight says that \u201cthoughtfully analyz[ing] a very large number of ideas and build[ing] on them\u201d has taken more time and effort than executives expected. That\u2019s made it more important that the payoff for employees\u2014funding of the best ideas and rewards for those who generate them\u2014is evident.\n Stephanie Overby is a freelance writer based in Massachusetts.