Every organization has its own way of generating ideas, but unless the system is totally broken there is always a plentiful supply of good, bad, and indifferent ideas floating in the minds of its employees. The main problem organizations have is in tapping into those ideas in a way that allows the best ones to rise to the top. In top down organizations leadership designates priority areas to ensure focus but can miss the boat on big wins from disruptive innovation. Organizations that allow everyone to work on their own pet idea are rewarding innovation, but allow its impact to be diluted through extensive resource waste on repetitive and irrelevant ideas.
How can an organization get the best of both? Rather than reinventing the wheel to come up with a new system the most efficient path forward can be the utilization of an off-the-shelf idea management software like Spigit, Imaginatik, or Brightidea that encourages idea submission from all parts of the organization and that then commences an organized process of idea ranking to find the big opportunity areas. This avoids the pitfall of having too few people making a decision and missing out on a big opportunity – the crowd sourcing or stock market approach allows contributors to collaborate to build ideas up and move good ones forward. It also allows management to designate winning ideas to go forward and to be allocated the necessary resources to succeed. Besides these two benefits – involving all employees in the innovation process and ensuring proper focus and allocation – idea management systems also become a de facto filing system for ideas, making sure that work your organization has done in the past doesn’t get lost. Ideas that have been vetted and collaboratively generated are at the ready anytime you need a new innovation.
Idea management software won’t generate winning ideas for you – but it will simplify the process of managing innovation and will allow you to master your innovation pipeline.
Idea management software is becoming more and more commonplace in corporate environments and the number of different vendors producing and selling their own management platforms seems to increase every day. Like all productivity tools they have their place and when used well can add tremendous value to an organization’s efficiency. However, idea management tools must be chosen very carefully and before beginning down this path you should consider the following:
Are you sure that the problem your company has is too many great ideas? If your staff isn’t sure what to work on because they aren’t sure what (if any) are the good ideas then maybe idea management isn’t as important to you as an improved idea generation process
Are you sure that an idea management platform can cope with the shear number of ideas in your innovation portfolio? Many platforms promote their ability to cope with large numbers of entries, but does the interface allow for the user to cope?
For platforms that promote some sort of crowd wisdom approach to idea management, are you sure that the software will be engaging enough to get a large number of people involved? Crowd wisdom only works if there is a crowd.
Many platforms include mechanisms for contacting internal experts or require experts or management to comment for ideas to progress. This works when the idea base is well targeted and relevant, but when a system becomes a catch-all for every half baked idea in the company, the contact mechanisms can rapidly become inbox spam turning off the very people who can contribute most to the system.
Like all productivity tools the adoption of idea management software has to drive a benefit for the company in the form of improved output (do more stuff), improved efficiency (do the same stuff with less people) or improved quality (do better stuff). Do you know how to measure or realize this benefit for your innovation program?
In short, better idea management is a challenge that all innovation groups face but the system you chose must match both the quality and quantity of the ideas in your portfolio. Just because it doesn’t have a URL doesn’t mean it isn’t cutting edge.