Recently I came across an article by Dirk Deichmann, assistant professor at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University on “How Managers Can Create a Constant Stream of Useful Ideas“. The main idea of the article is that, contrary to what anyone might think, rejection is actually conducive to employees submitting more ideas:
Indeed, our latest study at Rotterdam School of Business showed that rejection, counterintuitively, can actually drive innovation within a firm.
Our study analysed 1,800 ideas submitted through companies’ online suggestion boxes over a time span of 12 years. We found that rejecting ideas motivated people to come back with new ones. However, people whose ideas were accepted at the first try were less likely to come back with new suggestions.
He also goes on to say that the reason for this is very simple, it’s because rejection will “trigger a feeling of being positively challenged“. Rejection should also be done in a safe environment, away from anyone else’s eyes:
But how does a company create a safe haven for handling and examining innovative ideas? Essentially, employees should not fear anything when their ideas are rejected – for instance, a negative image, deteriorating career prospects, or a loss of status. Managers can help in that respect by ensuring that their rejections are not visible to anyone except the review committee and the idea initiator.
This makes sense, but what about using open innovation instead? Wouldn’t that be a lot more useful if everyone could actually participate in the innovation process, making it collaborative? For example: if I was to make a suggestion and everyone else could see it, surely that would reduce the number of duplicated ideas my managers would have to deal with? If the idea submission and eventual rejection happen in a collaborative spirit, in which peers will be reviewing and adding their own suggestions to the conversation, wouldn’t making the whole process transparent be a positive thing?
As an idea management software company, we believe that moving old suggestion box processes into a modern digital collaborative platform is beneficial to managers in many ways:
– innovation becomes a collaborative process
– it also becomes transparent and everyone can see what everyone else is doing
– it’s a lot easier to manage as the manager won’t have to personally oversee every single idea
– the perceived negativity of rejecting an idea is softened, as the process is now collaborative.