What Are the Main Challenges of the Idea Management Process?
Every new product, service, process, and business model, no matter how big or small, started as an idea. And ideas don’t just come from the company’s strategic leadership—great ideas can come from all levels of the organization. But how do you take advantage of all these ideas in an effective, systematic way?
The idea management process involves generating and capturing ideas, evaluating them, and selecting the best ones for implementation. However, developing an effective idea management process can be challenging. Sometimes it can even be harder than a slap from Will Smith at the Oscars. Here, we’ll look at the challenges you might face at each step and help you develop an idea management process built to overcome them.
Encouraging Participation in the Idea Management Process
The first challenge you’ll face is getting ideas out of your employees’ heads and into the open. This might take a little motivation. Often, when an idea management process is first introduced, there are lots of submissions, but over time, people lose interest, and the submissions decrease.
To keep up a continuous flow of ideas, it’s essential to keep employees engaged with the idea management process by making it rewarding and fun. Incentives are a great way to do this. Many companies incentivize idea submission by rewarding the best ideas that save the company money. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, and it works well in organizations that already have a strong culture of innovation. But, if you’re having trouble motivating employees to submit ideas, consider rewarding not the idea but the activity of proposing ideas. For example, some companies organize raffles where employees who submit ideas can win prizes.
It’s also essential that employees feel safe submitting their ideas. In companies without a culture of transparency and innovation, employees may be reluctant to share ideas because they fear being seen as critical or complaining. Nobody is going to bring disruptive, innovative ideas to management who are viewed as closed-minded or stubbornly committed to the current way of doing things.
So, how do you build a culture where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas? The key is having a formal idea management process that encourages participation. An idea management tool provides an official channel for submissions, so employees know their ideas are welcome and they know where to take them. The process should be user-friendly and straightforward, so there is a low threshold for submission.
To encourage repeated idea submissions, it’s crucial to provide feedback. Employees should feel their ideas are being genuinely heard and evaluated. Even rejected ideas should receive feedback, which lets employees know they don’t have to fear submitting “bad” ideas and may even help them develop an impractical idea into a better one. And of course, you also want to provide feedback to employees with good ideas, so they keep coming back with more.
Filtering the Best Ideas
Even if your idea management process generates lots of ideas, it doesn’t mean they’re all good ones. So how do you evaluate a large number of ideas to find the best ones?
Ideas are evaluated based on several factors, including:
- Potential benefits
- Likelihood of success
An idea management tool helps get ideas in front of the people who can make these evaluations. In the past, great ideas were often overlooked simply because the right people didn’t see them. rready for a dive back into the history books?, take the story of the invention of the Post-it note. In 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver, a scientist at 3M, tried to develop a new high-strength adhesive. Instead, he accidentally created a low-tack, reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive. Silver brought his invention to 3M, but it was seen as a “solution without a problem” and failed to generate any interest for several years.
Then, in 1974, Silver’s colleague Art Fry attended one of Silver’s seminars. A singer in his church choir, Fry had the idea of using the adhesive to hold his bookmark in place in his hymnal. With this idea, he was able to get permission from 3M to develop it into the product we’re so familiar with today.
Why did it take five years to recognize the value of Silver’s invention? Without a formal idea management process, there was no clear way to submit these kinds of ideas to the right people. It wasn’t until Fry stumbled upon it by chance that the concept and its value were connected and brought to the decision-makers who could make it happen.
When you use an idea management tool, the technology helps you figure out which ideas have merit. In addition to crowdsourcing the ideas themselves, an idea management tool helps crowdsource their evaluation by letting employees see one another’s ideas and comment on them.
Implementing and Scaling Ideas
Ideas are just ideas until they’re realized. Sometimes the most challenging part of idea management is implementing the ideas.
To get the most out of an idea management process, you must be able to capitalize on good ideas in a timely and effective manner. The simpler the process, the faster you can take advantage of new ideas. A process with lots of stage gates, meetings, and documents to fill out presents barriers to implementation that can drag out the process—or worse, cause people to lose interest so it falls through the cracks, incomplete and forgotten.
An effective idea management process integrates idea generation, evaluation, and implementation under one system shared by the entire organization. That way, you always know what the next step is and who’s responsible. An idea management tool that follows an idea from generation to implementation helps to clarify the vision of what the idea should look like when complete, how it should be scaled, and what metrics you should use to measure its success.
Implementation isn’t the last step. It’s important to monitor and measure the effects of the new ideas you’ve implemented so you know which ones are working and which ones aren’t. Sometimes ideas just don’t work out as planned—it’s just part of the process. If you’re not seeing the expected benefits, evaluate why and make modifications. If an idea just doesn’t work, let it go. Be sure to document and share your learnings from the project to help with future ideas and avoid making the same mistakes.
Get Your Idea Management Process Started With rready
Overcoming the challenges of idea management starts with a robust idea management process—and we’ve perfected the tool for the job.
Successful companies know idea management and employee engagement are essential for growth. Adopting an integrated idea management process like the KICKBOX program makes a statement to your teams that you’re committed to creating a kickass culture of innovation and creativity and opens the doors to an unlimited source of new ideas that can benefit your business. So implement this system, harness its power, and use it to your advantage!
rready has helped clients identify and implement their most innovative ideas with our KICKBOX program. We are committed to helping our clients get the most out of their idea management process, working hands-on to help ensure the greatest benefits possible. Contact us today so we can help you turn your ideas into reality.Get started today