The 3 Ingredients in Highly Effective Idea Management

Tip: It’s more than good coffee, sugar and croissants.

Highly effective idea management is at the top of every CEO’s wish list, but what does that require in practice? Ever since Ideanote was founded in 2015, we have talked to more than 100 Danish CEO’s to learn how they use idea management platforms. In those talks, we found 3 recurring themes, that helped these CEO’s become some of the most successful in their business.

1) Highly Effective Idea Management Creates Engaged employees

Employees will not contribute to internal innovation if they don’t feel engaged with the company. Being able to detect, develop and treat these engaged employees correctly is important to ensure a continuous interaction and flow of ideas internally. Feedback loops, a culture of being heard and supportive leaders will help develop employee engagement.

Take the Post-it note for instance. It had an interesting beginning and only became an innovation after an extended period, a few happy accidents and some engaged employees. If it hadn’t been for an engineer who thought about using the glue to help notes stick to music sheets, there would be no invention. If another employee had not believed in the market value of the product and stuck with it after marketing found the initial market testing to be not viable, there would be no product release. But now, 30 years later it is still a standard office supply used in almost all organizations and numerous homes.

Furthermore, having idea collecting processes and systems in place will help detect and monitor engagement and provide metrics for organizational incentive programs. In the most basic of scenarios, the company used their intranet for detection and monitoring. However, this can cause problems if the intranet is not developed for ease of use or limited in collecting and sorting capabilities. In these cases, a specific idea management system would be preferred.

2) There is Value at the Bottom of the Pyramid

Almost every one of the leaders I have talked to, have a strong belief that there is always value at the bottom of the pyramid that should be gathered and dispersed into the organization. One can not rely on a top-down approach for all innovative initiatives. A lot of ideas can be lost in the aggregate data looked at from this top-down perspective.

Every part of the pyramid is important.

Systematic processes in place within the organization is necessary to be able to collect and sort potential value. Lego had an overload of mail from customers submitting new ideas. Lego created Mindstorm to collect systematically a flow of ideas as well as a map of brand advocates.

Frontline employees deal every day with many problems and have a general understanding of some the context around them. Tapping into this knowledge creates valuable insights for multiple layers of the organization. A telco company, after detecting a type of customer pain, was able to change a subscription offer of paying quarterly to customers, which significantly increased satisfaction and overall retention.

3) Input from Employees is as Valuable as Sales Leads

It is accepted that inputting sales leads into a CRM system is critical to the growth of the business. However, many managers don’t see the value of the input of their employees. The problem with this approach is not explicitly measured within a company and is, therefore, harder to monitor. Highly effective idea management means creating metrics and measurement criteria around the value created from employee ideas will lead to a greater understanding of the value created through employee input and resources and capabilities can be adapted accordingly.

A simple example is a petrol station employee who worked the night shift, who had an idea to change the location of where the empty trash bags were stored, saving the employee 5 minutes per shift. This employee had an opportunity to share the idea. The simple process was implemented across all 300 stations and saved 1500 minutes a day, 365 days a year. Although not all value is this explicit, it is a great example of how metrics realize the value.

If you too adopt these traits of highly effective idea management, your ability to generate new value for your organization through process optimization, employee retention, and loyalty and creating superior products that increase customer satisfaction and retention. All while increasing overall profitability.

Interested in more idea management tips? “Stop the Red Tape: Align Your Organization Around Ideas“, which has more great idea management tips.

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