We’ve helped companies completely transform themselves through idea management, but for many businesses it’s still a new concept, and a hard thing to get right. Idea management is the process of generating, collating, analysing and implementing ideas that solve real business problems, as part of a wider innovation strategy. These ideas are essential for driving growth, securing a foothold in a rapidly-changing landscape and keeping on top of evolving customer, employee and supplier expectations. Effective development and implementation of meaningful ideas will empower businesses to improve quality, while reducing costs. However, managing ideas across various geographies and departments is increasingly difficult and all too often, valuable ones get lost, lack drive and never see the light of day.
We’ve compiled a list of the worst and worryingly, most common mistakes in idea management, with advice on how to get it right this time.
- Not grasping the true value of ideas
41% of businesses are knowingly at extreme risk of disruption. Every business is struggling with transformation, even those born as disruptors. Ideas can degrade quickly so to be an innovator, you need to move fast. Being proactive about identifying and capitalising upon the really valuable ones – those that will help your business identify areas for improvement, adapt your strategy to emerging priorities and find new ways to boost your bottom line – is a matter of survival. You need to be able to anticipate potential disruption to gain true competitive advantage.
- Not setting clear objectives
Many businesses set KPIs before having a clear idea of the business challenge they’re actually looking to solve, and the most effective way to measure its achievement. Innovation should be managed with a long-term view; it’s not about overnight success. It’s important to ask people for ideas in areas where you are prepared to make changes and commit resources to implement the ideas. You need to make sure objectives are meaningful and aligned to your strategic goals and business needs.
- Disregarding your workforce
You could be sitting across the room from someone with the solution to your company’s biggest problem. Potential lies everywhere, not just in the C-suite. Engaging employees in idea management makes them feel they are helping to achieve their company’s strategic objectives and their subsequent positive behaviour is one of the biggest drivers of customer satisfaction. Waitrose’s collaborative hub, Partner Ideas, connects its 60,000-strong workforce and the company has saved a total of £3.5 million by the implementation of in-house ideas.
- Not engaging your ecosystem
10-20% of recurring revenue opportunities through partner channels regularly go unrealised. Idea management can help unify entire ecosystems by bolstering external insights from partners, supply chains and firm incubators or accelerators. For example, by establishing a collaborative space where your investors can share ideas on strategic direction, you can ensure that everybody in and surrounding your organisation is creating more value. You’ll improve operational efficiencies, increase transparency and knowledge sharing.
- Not asking your customers for ideas
Who better to help solve a business problem such as increasing customer engagement? Starting a conversation and setting up a space where customers can share their thoughts will help you identify the smartest investments for your company’s future. Directly involving customers in your company’s value creation and product development processes will also boost engagement, improve processes, drive loyalty and deliver to them a more personalised experience in line with your business values.
- Using the wrong tools
Social enterprise networks may engage large and diverse groups, but like email, online forms and brainstorming, they lack purpose and don’t offer any direction or workflow for evaluating and implementing shared ideas. If you view innovation as just an idea generation and capture process, divorced from business execution, you won’t succeed. An idea management platform can manage end-to-end innovation (from idea capturing and filtering, to development and evaluation), support innovation challenges and provide quick feedback. Such innovation software can take a new idea to market within days, instead of the typical 6 months.
- Maintaining an unhealthy culture
Only 19% of executives currently believe their company has the ‘right culture’, but culture impacts the bottom line. Building a culture of innovation is crucial, not just for your workforce, but for your ecosystem and customers – it will provide everyone with a voice and role in the ideas process, not just a handful of managers. Encourage your communities and provide them with the time, tools and freedom to think strategically, create, experiment, generate and share ideas. You’ll discover new ways to cut costs, enhance profits and engagement, improve products and better serve customers.
Providing everyone with the tools and encouragement to unleash their inner creativity will help to create the right idea management culture and approach. We’ve recently written a comprehensive guide to idea management, especially for beginners, to provide a clear understanding of why idea management is so important and how to make it work for each and every business. Read our Beginner’s Guide to Idea Management to learn more.