The Secret to Your Success: How to Innovate with a Good Idea Management Process

Why an Idea Management Process is Important and How to Do It.

Innovation is, for sure, la mode du jour. Every business out there is busting a gut to innovate, be seen to innovate or be innovative. But many attempts at innovation end up bombing. It’s hard to put a number on it. Who’s up for talking about their lemons, afterall. But studies show that around 60 to 80% of new products fail. Why is that? Part of the problem is that businesses do not have effective idea management processes in place.

Put simply, idea management is the process by which companies find and give birth to great ideas. It’s not creative problem solving where you cook up an idea. Nor is it innovation management where you work on an idea with the most potential to create value.

Idea management plays a crucial role in the innovation process. It exploits creativity and puts it into effect to create better business results. It’s a process, and like all good processes, it’s structured to deliver the goods. And it’s what many businesses are missing. So what does a good process for ideas look like and how can you set one up that works for you?

The 6 Legs of the Idea Management Process

There are 6 legs of the idea management process - preparation, generation, enhancement, evaluation and selection, implementation and storage. Nope, not a beauty regime. Just a well-structured idea management process.

So let’s dive into each of the legs. And nut out how to work through each so you can nail the process. We’ll use Ideanote, a digital idea management platform for teams, to show you how each step translates into action.

Leg 1: Preparation

Before kicking off, a problem or challenge needs to be identified. What is it you’re trying to figure out? Is it about meeting your customers’ needs? Are new technologies demanding new applications in your industry? Perhaps you need to improve your processes or work out a new market strategy. Or your product simply needs to be better. All the time. Whatever the stickler, specify it. It’s always easier to find ideas to defined problems.

In Ideanote, you can create goal-driven "Missions" that challenge people to come up with ideas. You can do this by putting a question to an audience of your choosing. A good mission question isn't too narrow or too broad. It provides your team with focus, yet leaves enough room to explore even the boldest new ideas. Also, most good questions start with a “how might we”. Read more about setting up good Missions here.

Leg 2: Idea generation and gathering

So we have the challenge sorted and can start generating them ideas! But how to do idea generation?

Well, here’s the thing. Creativity and collaboration are the cornerstones to this leg. So make your organisation innovation friendly and provide a forum for teamwork. Ensure the process is transparent and encourage feedback through a sounding board. Receive ideas positively and motivate submissions by sharing success stories. And don’t forget to train staff about idea development - it increases the number and quality of ideas.

Ideanote really helps you in this leg of the process. This phase is known as the "Create" phase in Ideanote. Here, people are encouraged to submit ideas to your idea gathering Missions. It lets you set creativity free! And provides a fully automated feedback system that empowers your people to contribute and collaborate. It keeps individuals engaged as they track the progress of their ideas from creation to implementation.

Leg 3: Idea Improvement

You’ve hatched a bunch of ideas. Now it’s time to enhance them. This means gathering further information with the help of market studies or scientific experiments, for example. Look for feedback and new insights. Incorporate these into revised versions. And then cluster them. Systematically categorizing and tagging your ideas with keywords will simplify the search process.

In Ideanote, this step is known as the "Grow" phase. Here, people are prompted to submit feedback to each other's ideas. This lets you put the right people together with the right ideas at the right time. As each idea progresses through Ideanote’s automated phases, it receives the feedback it needs when it needs it. This means all ideas get every chance to reach their full potential while you have a bird's eye view on the process.

Leg 4: Idea Evaluation and Selection

Once the ideas have been scrubbed up, it’s time to get to the core of the process. Selecting the best o’ them! For this, you need to set some clear selection criteria. These will be different for each company but here’s a list to get you thinking:

  • Originality - is the idea ingenious? Imaginative? Surprising?
  • Workability/feasibility - is the idea workable? Can it be easily technically realized?
  • Acceptability - is the idea socially, legally and politically acceptable?
  • Implement-ability - is it easily implemented?
  • Relevance/effectiveness - does the idea apply to a problem? Will it solve it?
  • Applicability - does the idea clearly apply to a problem?
  • Efficiency - how effective is it, compared to the effort needed to implement it?
  • Benefit - does the idea benefit the potential market?
  • Financial opportunities - will the idea generate money?
  • Customer satisfaction - will customers be satisfied with the product?
  • Specificity - is the idea clear and worked out in detail?
  • Completeness - does the idea cover the who, what, where, when, why and how?
  • Clarity - is the idea clearly communicated? Grammar? Word usage?

Whatever you do, make the underlying process transparent. Acknowledge all ideas and don’t dismiss any without a reason. Give quick and supportive feedback from other workers and management - it’s bound to spur further suggestions. Recognize or reward idea efforts. This keeps your people motivated and feeling valued. Make the reward structure equitable to ensure equal treatment of all. Finally, keep tracking the status of an idea and keep all informed.

This step is the "Rate" phase in Ideanote. Here, you can create your own custom rating criteria so you can evaluate your ideas with confidence and ease. You can even customize who has access to rating ideas for each of your idea collections to make sure the evaluation is always qualified. If you wanna know who of your innovators you should be rewarding, their reporting module is a great way to get insights.

Plus, Ideanote automatically tags each idea with its total rating, so you can easily sort them and identify the very best.

Leg 5: Idea Implementation

The purpose of the implementation leg is to bring the idea to life. The actual implementation is important to demonstrate the feasibility of the idea management process and to showcase success stories to boost participant engagement. It’s a crucial motivation for further ideas.

To successfully carry out the implementation process, clear responsibilities and teamwork are required. Such an implementation team can consist of project managers, developers, and subcontractors.

This final phase is known as the "Act" phase in Ideanote. It lets you assign the right people to the right ideas for quick and efficient implementation. Once ideas have been developed and evaluated, you're left with a list of the very best ones to act on. By assigning a person or a team to an idea, everyone will automatically be notified.

The transparent process makes it easy to track progress and to create and share success stories for everyone to enjoy.

Leg 6: Idea Bank

This one’s simple. It’s just about keeping good ideas for future use. Archive them in a digital platform. They can be implemented later or used for learning.

Ideanote’s perfect for this as it lets you store all your ideas in one place. All successfully implemented ideas can be categorized and tracked according to their impact. Meaning you’ll always have the relevant data at the ready when asked to share the results of your innovation efforts!

Even the less successful ideas are tracked, which in turn will help you gain valuable insights into your innovation process. Every idea captured by Ideanote makes your business grow better and smarter.

Final thoughts

Bottom line, the meat-and-potatoes of an effective idea management process is an innovative environment. So, remember:

  1. Generate an innovation mindset across your business - encourage creativity and embrace change.
  2. Show support for the process and be proactive about it - signal that idea suggestions are part of your everyday culture.
  3. Open the challenge to everyone - all have the ability to innovate.
  4. Promote the challenge so it catches the attention of all - market it in emails, workshops and posters.
  5. Name the challenge properly - your people will then make the right associations with it.
  6. Stay committed to the process - this is crucial for the implementation of great ideas.

Over to you.

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