Idea management – Are you engaging your most creative resource?
Organisations rarely evolve optimally. More often than not organisations layer new processes on top of old ones and are stifled by legacy practices. It is the people who work in your organisation who are impacted most. They come to work with the skills, knowledge and experience to deliver productively but then find that they have to work in a bureaucratic system that doesn’t allow them to flourish. I once worked for a large company in a project capacity and, at one stage, found that I was delivering 5 separate reports to 5 different managers with more or less the same information in each report. This is typical in matrix organisations where employees report to many stakeholders.
Every organisation has many examples of bureaucratic processes that can be broken down to improve efficiency and allow employees to express themselves more creatively. It is these very same employees however who are your most valuable creative resource. They work within a system that stifles them and they are in the best position to provide creative solutions to these problems. It’s not all about efficiency. As organisations begin to break down practices that stifle employees they free up more time to spend on other value added creative activities, such as helping to develop product and service ideas and improving other aspects of the organisational environment.
An Idea Management process and solution can be used to drive out inefficiencies in the organisation allowing you to leverage your most creative resources for higher value activities. Idea management can then contribute to innovation and other value added strategic activities by engaging with employees and allowing them to collaborate on their ideas.
Implementing a successful idea management process
Creative ideas can come from anyone in your organisation and other stakeholders such as customers, suppliers and other interested parties. How do you therefore provide the correct channels and motivate people to participate in idea development? There are a few best practice approaches that will help your idea management process flourish:
Keep it simple – Provide your employees with an easy to use solution that allows different groups to collaborate on different projects and ideas without overloading them with information.
Clearly define the challenge – The suggestion box approach might be somewhat effective for a while, but it can lack focus. Instead, ask employees to contribute ideas to solve specific challenges and your idea management process will be far more productive. Providing employees with a challenge that they can relate to, such as breaking through bureaucracy, will motivate them to contribute as they will directly see the value of their ideas.
Invite the right participants but encourage diversity – It’s possible that some challenges might benefit from having a wide participation group that could include everyone in the organisation, but striking a balance between the number of ideas and the quality of those ideas will depend on your participation group. Diversity is also essential to encourage productive collaboration.
Focus on value – Although the suggestion box approach can occasionally deliver some good ideas, I would always encourage prioritising challenges that address the most pressing organisational concerns. This requires a campaign based approach where a challenge is introduced, presented and promoted for a period of time and then ideas reviewed and progressed. A focused campaign based approach will always be more effective than an open suggestion box in terms of delivering value.
Have a robust review process – Part of the success of idea management comes from enabling participants to collaborate and undertake a peer review of each others ideas. During the campaign many ideas will be discounted while other ideas are further developed and built on by peers. A few ideas often emerge as ‘no brainers’ and can be implemented immediately with no further development. At the end of an idea campaign there will be many remaining ideas that require further analysis. This review and analysis is essential and requires expert resources to analyse and make decisions on which ideas to recommend for further investment. Be sure to allocate sufficient time, resource and importance to the review process.
Want to get started with Idea Management?
Richmond Innovation, and our partner, Solverboard, can help you to develop collaborative campaigns and refine your online suggestion box so that it delivers more value. We can help you design your idea management process, understand and define challenges, implement an idea management solution and help you review ideas and ultimately deliver value. To find out more about what we do please click on our services page and complete the contact form if you would like to discuss how we can help.
To understand more about what we do you can visit our services page.
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