“Overfunding” your innovation program
When it comes to idea management, finding the gold coin is never this easy.
Harvard University professor Clayton Christensen says in a recent Newsweek interview that startup companies’ first strategies are almost always wrong, and an overfunded startup can prolong those false assumptions because “the founders can assume that they’re right for quite a while before they start to need to depend on peoples’ willingness to pay.”
The same is true in idea management.
Look at ideas as currency, and an idea management platform as a bank. An in-house IT technician can build your bank, and guide everyone to it, and even show you exactly how to put your money into it. The trouble is, if you focus on generating lots of activity (a high number of deposits), rather than encouraging high value, you likely will end up with a huge mountain of nickels, when what you really want is quarters.
If a platform generates lots of content, it could fool itself into thinking it's a success (it's manufacturing more currency) without knowing if the ideas are pennies or gold coins (work smarter, not harder).
There’s also a metrics angle for the bank to consider. If the bank bases its value on the number of coins, rather than their value, it could claim an early victory … only to later realize (when challenged by leadership) that it's not generating value. It’s only generating activity. Scooping up all the nickels can provide some value (top-line growth and bottom-line cost savings), but is the bank set up to repeat this?
You need a way to separate the coins. In idea management the right services and tools can help you focus on the right measurements, behaviors and outcomes: best practices refine the questions you ask and the type of ideas you generate, while review tools help separate the high-value ideas from the noise.
The idea management field has grown tremendously since Imaginatik started it in the 1990s. Many of today’s technology platforms provide one-size-fits-all approaches to pooling the brainpower of the enterprise to find innovative solutions to business problems. Like the startup with fresh venture capital in hand, these platforms can operate for a while on false assumptions of cultural behavior, adoption/engagement, and outcomes.
Innovation isn’t about filling a bank, reaching in and blindly pulling out a bunch of coins. It’s about opening your eyes and grasping the most valuable ones.