Successful idea managers are not easy to find – mostly because there are very few people out there with that exact title. But idea management is crucial to the success of your innovation challenges, which is why the structure of a well-thought-out innovation program makes such a huge difference. Idea management – and any other factors worth considering – can be built right in to your process.
The success of any innovation challenge is tied to many variables – but a stellar team that includes key players who possess the skills inherent in an “idea manager” (in addition to whatever other traits they bring to the table) is a good start.
Beyond a great team, there are some idea management “must haves” for enterprise success:
Top-down Commitment to the Innovation Process
Innovation can’t happen in a bubble – or silo. And it can’t be the pet project of one department, or they’ll spend all their time swimming against the tide. Innovation culture must start at the top – because let’s face it, if the most important people in the company don’t appear to care about innovation, why should anyone else?
C-suite support is necessary to create the domino effect that will get every employee excited and invested in your company’s innovation program. And you want your employees excited because some of your best ideas are going to come from them.
But it won’t happen by accident. You need a detailed plan to share that support company-wide and make sure everyone knows their input is valued.
Incentives That Make Sense
Part of managing ideas means making sure there are ideas to manage – of course – but also opening top ideas up to voting so that only the very best hit the implementation phase of your challenges. To that end, offering incentives for participation is a great idea – but you don’t want to just throw incentives out there like confetti, leaving you with a colorful mess and no real results.
There are two types of incentives to consider:
- Extrinsic – tangible rewards such as an iPad, FitBit, cash, etc.
- Intrinsic – intangible rewards such as recognition, ability to head up their own innovation challenge, etc.
Extrinsic rewards may seem like an obvious choice – who doesn’t love a cash bonus, after all? – but depending on how many people are involved, i.e., different departments/employee levels, not to mention clients, intrinsic rewards could be a smarter move because you can easily afford to offer incentives to more people without blowing your budget.
An overly saturated field competing for a limited number of “prizes” will leave many not bothering – which makes it more of an anti-incentive. Not to mention, an article by McKinsey & Company notes that for many companies revenue is down, as is employee morale; intrinsic rewards can take care of both issues at once. Win-win.
Meaningful Metrics to Measure Outcomes
The importance of tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can’t be overstated. It’s far too common for innovation efforts to get a big start, then fall by the wayside because there was no plan for tracking progress during the process. There are numerous metrics to measure throughout your process, but when it comes to idea management, participation is the most telling.
If you’re new to innovation, tracking participation will be particularly critical. Yet even if you’re not, there’s a lot to be gained by keeping an eye trained participation levels. Here’s some of what you’re looking for:
- Participation happening company-wide and from specific departments
- Both unique and returning visitors to your innovation platform
- Silo-free participation and collaboration
- Increasing idea-generation throughout challenges
- Comments and votes to choose the best ideas
Without this kind of participation, your innovation process is likely to stall before completion, so make sure you’re aware of the level of participation you’re getting and course correct if it’s not where you need to keep moving forward.
A Configurable Idea Management Platform
Why do you need this? Because innovation is a process, with many moving parts. Without some sort of structure to things, you’ll end up in the tall grass, lost. Too often – to the demise of many an innovation challenge – idea management is not a big enough part (or any part) of the equation, resulting in wasted time and money with zero progress.
Obviously you can’t implement EVERY idea, but you also can’t implement none of the ideas or you’ve defeated the purpose. Brightidea’s software in many ways IS your idea manager – providing a prebuilt framework that helps you understand where you are while keeping your efforts moving forward – by keeping you on track.
Creating a culture of innovation isn’t easy, so you’ve got to map things out in advance. With Brightidea, you can organize your process, keep the flow of ideas moving, scale rapidly, and take advantage of expert resources to guide your efforts. Reach out to have us with you every step of the way, from end-to-end.