Have you ever seen a great idea slip through the cracks or a new project fall off without any resolution? These are issues that an effective idea management process can resolve. Gartner, the world’s leading research and advisory company, defines idea management as “a structured process of generating, capturing, discussing and improving, organizing, evaluating and prioritizing valuable insight or alternative thinking that would otherwise not have emerged through normal processes.” Overall, it streamlines and improves ideation so that successful and continuous innovation can happen. If idea management is new to your business or your current process is not working as well as it could, there are helpful guidelines for implementing a successful system. Here is a step by step plan to create an effective idea management process.
1. Set Clear Goals and Objectives
Setting clear goals and objectives is the first step for many business frameworks, and the idea management process is no different. It is important to understand what the desired end result of this process looks like so that an accurate strategy can be created. Ideally, this discussion should be open across all levels and departments within a business. Sharing these goals and objectives openly also helps everyone start on the same page when launching a new initiative. The goal of everyone’s efforts should never be left up to guesswork.
2. Discuss Ideation Strategies
Sustainable innovation strategies require an ideation strategy as well to make sure that fresh ideas continue to flow. There are many techniques to spark idea generation, and some may be a better fit for your business than others. Ideation works best when everyone feels safe to share and contribute openly, so it is important for upper level management to be prepared to both lead and listen. It is essential for everyone to have a comfortable understanding of the ideation strategy.
3. Motivate Everyone to Contribute
The goal of a successful innovation culture is for everyone to be motivated to freely contribute ideas. Part of this responsibility comes from the previously mentioned ideation strategy. However, there are many ways to motivate employees by promoting healthy engagement. In our previous blog Fostering Employee Engagement: Let Your Employees Have their Cake and Eat it Too, we discuss the four levers of employee experience. Successful companies make employee engagement an important aspect of their business model.
4. Encourage Collaboration
The benefits of workplace collaboration contribute to the overall health and success of a company in many ways. However, it is critical for the success of innovation and ideation efforts. Employees must be willing to contribute, but they must also be willing to collaborate in order for innovation to occur. It is up to the company to make collaboration an effortless process that is accessible to everyone. Open innovation software helps employees of all levels and across departments in an organization collaborate with one another successfully.
5. Evaluate Ideas
Not every idea will be a good idea, and some good ideas might not actually help you achieve your set goals and objectives. It is important to have a guide for evaluating ideas. This guide should make sure that any ideas you want to put into action are always addressing the wider business goals. For tips on how to decide which ideas to implement, click here.
6. Put Your Plans into Action
You have done all of this work to come up with some really great ideas. Now it is time to put your plans into action! At this point you should have an idea to implement, so it is time to refine how to turn that idea into reality and start the official process. Action means seeing the new project or process through to the end result.
7. Reward and Recognize Achievements
Rewarding and recognizing achievements is an important step for fostering a culture of innovation full of motivated employees. This step should not be overlooked because it is important to celebrate the completion with everyone who helped along the way. It reinforces the benefits of contributing to the ideation process, which is an important initial step for idea management as a whole. Participation should always be regarded as a positive action.
8. Review the Results
Just like setting goals is a part of most business processes, reviewing and analyzing the results is also a natural conclusion to most business processes. The idea management process is also a part of the innovation process, so it should always be treated in the same way. Reviewing the results helps iterative innovation drive long-term growth. This step reveals what worked well and what did not work so that future processes can improve.
9. Share Successes and Failures
Reviewing the results pinpoints the successes and failures of the process, but those successes and failures need to be shared with everyone involved. Success builds morale and confidence, but failures are important learning opportunities that should not be left out. Treating failures as a normal part of bold innovation drives the kind of risk taking that leads to innovative success, but it is also important for employees to be aware of what did not work so that failures are not repeated.
Luckily, technology has provided solutions that keep your idea management process organized and easily accessible throughout the organization. Integrating software encourages cross-team collaboration, improves transparency and accountability, boosts employee engagement, identifies improvements, and helps to discover actionable solutions. Using an agile innovation management platform can transform the way your business finds, collects, prioritizes, and implements ideas. All of the areas that can be improved through the help of software are essential for keeping up with the future trends of innovation management. Successful innovation is heavily dependent on the generation of news ideas as well as them being put into action. To learn about Planbox’s Idea Management Software, click here.