With companies encouraged to innovate more, companies may be wondering what the best way to receive and manage ideas may be. Many companies result to what we call the idea black hole – the suggestion box.
But what makes the suggestion box so nebulous? It’s not the actual box. It’s the process surrounding the box. Businesses must ask themselves the basic questions about their suggestion boxes and their innovation process: Who, what, where, why, when and how?
1. Who is your suggestion box serving? Who submits ideas frequently? Who reviews the ideas? And who implements them? Knowing the people you’re working with allows you to get a clear vision of the entire process.
2. What is your suggestion box? Is it an actual box? Or is it a piece of idea management software? Is the software providing you with all of the features and add-ons that you need in order to fully access and analyse your ideas? The method of collecting the ideas can be just as important as the ideas themselves.
3. Where is your suggestion box? Is it accessible for all people or designed to be out of the way? Ask yourself what the purpose is for even having a suggestion box if it’s not designed to accept responses from anyone. Consider that maybe a crucial demographic may not be able to access it and therefore your customer response data may be incomplete.
4. Why do you have a suggestion box? What drove you to put out a suggestion box? Did you receive harsh suggestion that helped improve your business and decided you’d like even more of those suggestions? Or did you create it to funnel complaints away from the ears and inboxes of your staff? Or did it just seem like “something you do”? Being honest with yourself about why it is you implemented the suggestion box will help you figure out your motivations for keeping it.
5. How do you implement suggestions? If there’s no foundation for how your suggestion box works outside of it being a box, there’s basically no innovation process and you go back to why you implemented the idea in the first place.
Inevitably, if you’re a company that wants to continue to innovate, you’ll realise the limits of something like a suggestion box and you’ll consider expanding to idea management software. Companies that embrace the value of the input of their employees, customers, stakeholders, or constituents need the ideal situation for receive, analysing, and implementing these ideas.