When to ‘fish or cut bait’

Fish or bait

Face it: with a big pile of ideas, some are going to stink.

Best to act on the fresh ones quickly. (Photo source here)

We have an innovation style model called Orchid, which gauges how you apply your talents in a collaborative situation focused on problem solving. I fall in the "Creator/Inquisitor" category, which means I lean toward the idea creation and critiquing activities. If allowed, I would enjoy spending all day coming up with new ideas and then shooting them down for this reason or that. This is a valuable activity as we know, but sooner or later you've got to "fish or cut bait" (as we say down here in the South). Once you've got an idea that meets your needs, you go with it.

Now let's apply this logic to the typical review activity that goes along with most Idea Management systems. This may be an extreme case, but I believe it's still applicable to normal idea campaigns too.

“Jon Fisher” and “Sally Baits” are two typical Idea Management program owners. Both are strong “creators” and love the innovation process. They recently ran a very successful ideation campaign focused on solving a specific business problem associated with a new product being developed. They received 1,800 ideas and 3,900 comments. They are gleaming with pride and excitement at the response from the employees and are certain a creative solution is among the contributions.

They gathered the seven-member review team and divide the ideas according to their pre-agreed process. Each reviewer is to review about 600 ideas, with a minimum of three reviewers considering each idea. After looking at about 100 ideas, a couple of the review team members report back that they have “absolutely” found an idea that will address the problem.

They tell Jon and Sally that there is no need to continue with the review process. They've shared the idea with the Business Sponsor who agrees this definitely is an idea that will work. He is excited about the find and is ready to get going on implementation.

Jon and Sally's response is, “What? You can't stop! We've got 1,700 more ideas to look at. You might find an idea that's even better and we owe it to the participants to look at every idea!”

So what would you do? Would you keep “fishing” or would you “cut bait?” After 7 years in the business and against my “natural tendencies,” I say you cut bait. Why?  Time is a valuable resource; and if you have what you need go with it, don’t be greedy.  You might find something more valuable if you keep looking, but then again you may not, and would have wasted valuable time.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (another wonderful saying)!  I would love to hear your thoughts.

It's a key dilemma. I think

It's a key dilemma. I think there are 2 important things to consider.

Firstly feedback - this has to be done, at least broadly. So even if each idea isn't processed with a specific piece of feedback the collective are thanked and informed of what happened next.

The other thing as Jon & Sally know, there is probably a better idea in there - does it matter? It really depends on the context on the challenge. For some I'd say yes cut an run - for others this is the review team being lazy or not controlling the input they got from the process and are now trying to back out of their commitment. There is also the likely scenario that the idea they found doesn't proceed through the following stages, so the team need to go back and try an alternative? But hang-on we haven't identified one?

Some of Our Clients

A Foundation of Experience Spanning over 20 Years