8 Keys to Successful Idea Management

Happy to turn over the controls today to Geoff Carss, Imaginatik's Executive Vice President, Sales and Services.  Collaborative Innovation, Idea Management and Collective Intelligence continue to be among the hottest topics in the business press these days.  But few companies can equal Imaginatik’s depth of experience -- even at the simple things...

Idea management (IM) is, of course, a powerful source of competitive advantage and has been recognized as such for a long time. But the rules for effective IM are far different from yesterday’s old-fashioned suggestion box – and many of the best-practice methods that Imaginatik and its customers have developed and refined over the years can appear counter-intuitive at first. The critical thing to bear in mind is that ideas come from people - not from technology or processes. Effective engagement of staff, customers, suppliers etc is both the most important element to get right and the hardest to achieve. Our experience has shown time and time again that there are several keys to executing a successful IM program:

-- Ensure Stakeholders are Committed - They have business issues keeping them awake at night and will be sustained sponsors if their problems or challenges are resolved.

-- Focus on Specific Business Issues - Targeted initiatives are more likely to generate suggestions that get implemented. People with expertise in specific areas are more easily motivated to participate, and you can assign dedicated resources to drive implementation of promising ideas.

-- Set Time Boundaries for Campaigns -  Open-ended initiatives without deadlines can fail because participant interest naturally wanes. Structure your initiatives with defined deadlines that leverage the promotional effort and create a sense of momentum and limited-time opportunity.

-- Involve Diverse Broad-based Audiences -  Invite large audiences to ensure a steady flow of contributions, since only a fraction of potential contributors will submit ideas. Invite a diverse audience to get input from a variety of perspectives.

-- Stimulate Interaction -  Ideas can be significantly improved through interaction among different participants. Get people to discuss their ideas with others to foster continuous learning and community building and to allow the best ideas to bubble to the top.

-- Follow a Structured Review Process - Reviewing ideas effectively and efficiently is as important as collecting them. Follow a structured review process to ensure the good ideas are identified quickly. This increases the value of the ideas and motivates contributors.

-- Foster Participation - Capture people's attention and keep participants informed about relevant matters on an ongoing basis. Easy access through the corporate intranet and integration with e-mail are important as well as other communication channels such as posters, staff briefings and company updates.

-- Recognize Contributions - Whether it is intrinsic or extrinsic, recognition of contributors is essential. Recognition of great contributions is really important to celebrate success and encourage further participation.

For more thought provoking content on Idea Management, click here.

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