Article: Idea management for creating success

Oct. 17, 2011

A lot of companies are growing due to great ideas from the employees in the organization. Ideas are encouraged but it is important to understand that it is not easy to choose which ones are good and which type of ideas to encourage. Organizing the ideas in an idea management software is good but you need to have an organized system to know what ideas are relevant and which ones are not.

A lot of company managers wants to encourage their personnel to come with ideas regarding how to make the company a better workplace as well as ideas on new or modified products to be able to sell more. By having the ideas come from the personnel you will not only get ideas from the experts but also have the employees work harder since they feel they are part of the decisions in the company.

The reasoning around this is very straight forward and it is not hard to understand that this means success in the easy world. But, in the real world it is not always that easy.

There are a few things to think about before giving the opportunity to the personnel to give ideas.

1. Why do you want ideas from the personnel and in what areas?

It is easy to decide that you want to have ideas from the personnel but not always so easy to act on the ideas you receive. There are probably more companies around the world that have been implementing idea management without acting on them than the other way around. By giving the opportunity without acting on it will discourage the personnel and make them produce less in their daily work.
It is important to create a strategy before you let the personnel hand in ideas. Some questions that should be answered are:

* What area/s do we want ideas about?
* Why do we want ideas (purpose is always very important to think of)?
* Do we have a deadline for when the ideas should be handed in?
* What should we do with the successful ideas and should we award the contributors?
* How should we handle the “bad” ideas without making the personnel unmotivated?
* Who should prioritize the ideas and who should decide which ideas are good for the company?

2. How do you want to receive ideas?

Some people use a letterbox to collect ideas and some people use an idea management software. Whatever method you choose to use it is important to understand that you will need some kind of system to organize the ideas and to prioritize them. Whether that is a proper idea management software or just Excel is depending on a lot of factors, but too many businesses lose the ideas they receive and never seem to find them again.

3. How often do you go through the ideas?

You need to go through new ideas and prioritize them every now and then. It is also important to remove old ideas or at least make sure that the “bad” ideas are not mixed with the good ideas to be able to have focus on the right ideas. A lot of systems allow creating your own views. This way you can create a view to only have the high prioritized ideas visible.

4. How do you implement the ideas?

So, you have decided that you want to act on one of the ideas that is now on top priority in the idea management software. So, how do you now implement this the best way?
It is important to understand the psychological effects of idea management. The energy someone can give if he/she can be part of implementing their own idea is invaluable for the organization.
There are also psychological effects to take into consideration regarding not involving someone who came with a good idea, how to handle bad ideas, etc. You do not want to create bad energy from something that should be positive.

One could probably write a book on what to think about around idea management. If you choose to start receiving ideas from your employees it is always good to start small. Perhaps you can have ideas about what activities to do for the next company event or perhaps some new functionality for the next version of your product. This way you will be able to understand what to consider and how idea management should work in your organization. Add the ideas to some idea management software to start understanding how some technical system can help you in the process.
Another last point is to understand that idea management takes time even though it often gives much more than it takes. You have to set aside time for some people to manage the idea management process.