Big companies have long known that collecting ideas is the faster way to innovate. And they know that great ideas can come from anyone - not only their employees and customers but also the general public.
By getting more people involved in generating ideas through idea management processes and crowdsourcing platforms, companies like Google, Procter & Gamble, and many others have successfully harnessed the power of collective creativity.
In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of having a clear idea management process and how to create one.
What Is Idea Management?
Idea management is the structured process that helps ideas come to life. In an idea management process, every idea goes through a set of steps before it can be executed. These steps are generating, collecting, evaluating, selecting, developing, testing, and implementing.
To make sure that no idea gets lost in the process, it's a good idea to use digital tools. Doing it digitally means you can automate many parts of the idea management process, saving yourself from tedious and time-consuming manual work. This way, you can be more efficient in bringing ideas to life.
Typically, companies implement an idea management process to encourage ongoing innovation and come up with winning ideas to improve their products or services, as well as their internal processes. There are also many other benefits of using idea management in your company, which we'll discuss later in this article.
Idea management can be implemented in two ways: as a structured approach to organizing and improving your brainstorming sessions or as an ongoing and continuous process to foster a culture of innovation in your company.
What is the difference between idea management and innovation management?
One of the most notable differences between idea management and innovation management is the scope.
While they both present opportunities to grow a company, innovation management is more focused on creating innovative products or services to differentiate from the competition. Idea Management starts with an idea found by somebody who internally brings the idea to the business managers for review and implementation.
Innovation Management involves the implementation of innovation into a business model, usually through structured strategy and creative processes such as brainstorming sessions.
In a way Idea Managemet is a part of Innovation Management. The Idea Management process exists in tandem with the other wheels that make up Innovation Management to help power business growth and innovation.
Idea management helps you manage innovation
Creative and innovative ideas don't pop up out of nowhere. Rather, they're the result of a well-structured idea management process that takes ideas from being random thoughts and transforms them into carefully considered and actionable plans.
That’s exactly what idea management does - it’s a structured way to manage the chaos of generating and collecting a large number of ideas and taking those ideas from collection to evaluation and implementation.
A well-structured idea management process helps handle a big number of ideas during a brainstorming session or can act as a digital suggestion box.
Idea management helps you to be more innovative
An idea management process encourages continuous innovation within a company. With a structured approach for generating and managing ideas, your employees, colleagues, and customers will feel more inspired to share their ideas, knowing they won’t get lost in the void and completely forgotten.
Creating a system where every idea gets stored and carefully evaluated will be a great motivator for everyone to come up with more ideas. This will ultimately result in better quality ideas because each idea goes through a carefully curated process to be selected and validated.
Implementing an idea management system within your company also generates an opportunity for collaborative idea evaluation, which further inspires a culture of innovation and blue-sky thinking.
Benefits of an Idea Management Process
Collecting ideas from your employees and customers is a great way to stay ahead of your competitors through continuous innovation and improvement. But can’t do it effectively without a structured idea management process.
Without one, you’d have to spend countless hours selecting and evaluating ideas, which becomes unmanageable when there’s a large number of ideas falling into your idea pipeline.
Here are some of the most notable benefits of introducing an idea management process within your company.
A clear process helps ideas come to life
No idea is perfect from the start. Truly groundbreaking ideas need to go through a refinement process before they become groundbreaking. That’s why having a clear idea management process is crucial to help great ideas come to life.
Without a process, you risk discarding ideas that have great potential. By not allowing them to receive feedback from different people and be collaboratively evaluated, you miss the chance to turn them into something remarkable.
Plus, having a clear idea management process proves to be much more time-saving and effective than classic brainstorming sessions.
Studies have shown that many individuals may perform poorly during brainstorming sessions due to social anxiety. But when they use an idea management system for brainstorming instead of doing it in a group setting, they can come up with great ideas without feeling anxious.
An idea management process guarantees a steady idea pipeline
To innovate successfully, you need lots of ideas. Big companies like Google understand this and value listening to their employees. They focus on their employees' success, which motivates them to share their ideas. This leads to a culture of idea-sharing and ultimately drives innovation.
But for this to work, there must be a transparent idea management process everyone understands and finds inspiring. When employees know their ideas will be taken seriously, regardless of where they are in the company hierarchy, they feel encouraged to share, which keeps ideas flowing.
An example of this is a night shift employee of a petrol station 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 was able to share his idea, and it was implemented across all 300 stations. It ended up saving the company 1500 minutes a day.
Besides, many people get their ideas randomly, like at the grocery store or during a conversation with a client. But if there's no easy way to capture those ideas at that moment, they might slip away forever. This means a potentially groundbreaking idea could be lost because there was no way to capture it on the spot.
To avoid losing these ideas and create a steady idea pipeline, it's essential to have an idea management system in place.
Idea management helps you manage a large number of ideas
Imagine having to sort through 75 ideas a week. If we assume that it takes 5 minutes to review every single idea, it will take you 6 hours to go through all 75 of them. That’s a lot of time, especially when you take it on a monthly or yearly scale.
Implementing an idea management system allows you to save time on evaluating those ideas by automating the process. This becomes even more crucial in larger companies or highly creative workplaces where the number of ideas can quickly become overwhelming.
With an idea management platform like Ideanote, you can handle a large number of ideas with streamlined workflows that allow everyone to leave feedback on each other’s ideas.
Also, using an idea management system will save you the time and hassle of managing massive spreadsheets, post-it notes, and other outdated idea collection methods.
When companies manage their ideas effectively, it encourages employees to contribute their ideas and creates a culture of innovation where everyone is equally engaged.
This is important because, often, the best ideas come from collaboration between employees. For instance, the Post-it note only became an innovation after multiple people worked on the idea from different angles.
Using a dedicated idea management system like Ideanote can help you streamline the process from ideation to idea implementation while keeping everyone engaged, which leads to more creative and innovative solutions.
For example, Oslo Municipality used Ideanote to gain insights into employees' needs and ideas, leading to a successful implementation of changes, and FCR Media replaced inefficient idea collection methods with Ideanote's simple and intuitive platform, boosting innovation in their workplace.
Additionally, with Ideanote, you can pick who you want to be part of your idea-sharing team. This means you can have a diverse group with different perspectives providing feedback on ideas, so they can thrive and grow into truly innovative solutions.
Even better, Ideanote lets everyone in your team comment on each other's ideas. This encourages interesting conversations and shows various points of view, which further inspires engagement.
How to Manage Ideas: A Look Into the Process
We already mentioned that idea management is a process that helps ideas come to life and take them through every step in between generation and implementation. But what does it look like in practice? What do these steps entail, and how can you make sure you do them right?
If you were to do everything manually, taking each idea through every step in the process would be extremely time-consuming. But with an idea management software like Ideanote, it becomes easier and much more manageable.
With that said, let’s dive into each step of the idea management process separately.
Idea generation is a fundamental aspect of innovation, driving the growth of companies. It can be an ongoing process in organizations with a culture of open innovation. On the other hand, there are times when idea generation becomes essential to address specific problems and find solutions.
Anyone can be a source of new ideas, regardless of their job title, department, or tenure. To get a lot of different thoughts and solutions, it's essential to include a diverse group of people who can contribute ideas from varying perspectives and points of view.
This will ensure you'll always have a large number of ideas falling into your idea pipeline - and that is vital because it increases the likelihood of finding exceptional ones.
But to come up with more ideas during ideation sessions or otherwise, you need a digital idea management tool to make collecting them more manageable, faster, and more motivating for everyone.
A software like Ideanote helps encourage continuous and inclusive idea generation by evaluating every idea and rewarding contributors in a transparent way.
Additionally, Ideanote's collaborative feedback features support individual and collective progress on every idea that leads to turning even seemingly bad ideas into great ones.
Collecting ideas is essential because it opens up opportunities for great innovations and improvements. In the past, it might have been chaotic and impractical, but with the advent of digital idea management solutions and crowdsourcing platforms, the process has become much smoother.
The truth is that great ideas can come from anyone. Considering ideas that come only from your employees and not tapping into the potential idea crowdsourcing means missing out on valuable growth opportunities.
Remember that even the smallest suggestion can lead to significant breakthroughs or successful products. You never know where the next groundbreaking idea will come from, so embrace diverse perspectives and start collecting ideas from various sources - like your employees, customers, social media audience, or crowdsourcing communities.
Idea Evaluation, Selection & Development
Collecting ideas from employees, customers, and the general public can lead to innovative products and improved internal processes. But how do you know which ideas to implement, test, or discard?
That's where idea evaluation comes in. This essential step of the idea management process involves assessing and analyzing different ideas to determine their potential value for the company.
Standard metrics like ROI and market size are often used to evaluate ideas that improve existing products. However, truly innovative ideas that bring significant changes will rarely fit these metrics.
That's why two stages of idea evaluation exist: the first stage involves evaluating, comparing, and ranking a critical volume of ideas based on objective criteria, while the second stage presents the ideas to decision-makers or the team for a more subjective perspective.
One important thing to remember when evaluating ideas is that no idea is fully formed from the beginning. Through evaluation, ideas can be aligned with company goals and developed into actionable plans.
With a digital idea management tool like Ideanote, evaluating ideas becomes a collaborative process rather than a decision that fully relies on the manager or a few key decision-makers.
This way, ideas can be evaluated from varying perspectives, refined, and prepared for development.
Idea Validation & Testing
Not all innovative ideas turn into successful ventures. Some promising concepts may fail to gain traction in the market, while others that face initial skepticism can ultimately become huge successes. To ensure the worthiness of a business idea and its potential for success, idea validation is essential.
In the idea management process, idea validation comes right after ideas evaluation and right before implementation. Once you've selected the ideas that you think are worth pursuing, you need to validate them before pouring resources into the actual execution of those ideas.
In practice, idea validation involves thoroughly testing the idea against real-world market conditions by verifying whether there's a genuine demand for the product or service and if customers will be willing to pay for it.
Having an effective implementation plan is crucial for successful idea management. Just like following a cooking recipe, trying to execute ideas without a clear plan can lead to failure.
To set the stage for successful implementation, it starts with creating a company culture that welcomes new ideas and has established a transparent idea management process from day one. This way, ideas that arrive at the implementation stage are ones that have already been carefully evaluated, selected, tested, and validated.
Since no idea is perfect from the beginning, the important thing is to focus on the most promising ones rather than dwelling on the challenges of implementation.
Idea management tools can help with this by making the process smoother and only moving forward with ideas that have real potential. Skipping this step can lead to problems later on, like unrealistic expectations and budget constraints.
Once the idea is ready, the focus shifts to creating an implementation plan. By having a well-thought-out plan and selecting ideas with purpose, the implementation becomes smoother and more likely to lead to successful outcomes.
Ready for Effective Idea Management?
Equip yourself with the tools and insights to manage ideas effectively. Here's how Ideanote can help: