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Cartoon: paper shredder for idea submission

Saving Awesome Ideas from Death by Stagnation

In many organisations, employees who have awesome ideas do not know what to do with them. The result is often that such ideas eventually die a death through stagnation. This is not good for the company or the employee. Hence, you need a roadmap to implementation that is available to all employees. Allow me to explain.

Imagine one of your colleagues has an awesome idea. Over the past few weeks, she has been playing with it in her mind, developing it, asking questions and getting feedback. It is not a silly, little idea, but a big game changing idea that could make a difference for your company, a big difference.

Now, ask yourself: what can and should she do with her idea? What available path does your organisation offer that will ensure that her idea is fairly evaluated, further developed and (assuming no serious problems are found) implemented? In many organisations, such a path does not really exist. Sure, she can share the idea with the manager she reports to. But that basically moves the problem from her to her manager. And if her manager is overworked (and how many managers do you know who are not overworked?), he is likely to kill the idea, either by rejecting it out right or by putting off doing anything about it. In either case, the killer idea has been killed by the organisation it was meant to help.

"But, we have idea management..."

If you have an idea management platform or some kind of suggestion scheme running in your company, you may feel that you do not need to worry about a killer idea being killed. The colleague with the idea can just submit it using an easy web form and the system will ensure the idea is processed. Unfortunately, this assumption is flawed for two reasons. Firstly, idea management software does not process anything except code. It is up to your organisation to provide employees with processes for ensuring that their creative ideas are recognised, fairly evaluated and considered for implementation If such a process does not exist in your organisation, your software cannot make it exist no matter how good the software is.

Secondly, in my experience, when an individual or small group of people have a big idea, they do not tend to submit it to the idea management software, which tends to be used more for incremental improvement ideas and solving specific problems. Rather, the idea owner tends to develop and play with the idea and builds it up into something more, such as a business case or project proposal.

In short, idea management does not make a difference when it comes to implementing killer ideas. Worse, if you have an idea management software, but no process for evaluating and implementing ideas, the software becomes nothing more than an expensive repository of ideas. What you need is a roadmap to implementation.

Roadmap to Implementation

I would argue that one of the first priorities of an innovation manager is to establish processes for implementing ideas, especially killer ideas, and the second priority is to communicate these processes across the organisation so that when colleagues have killer ideas, they know what to do with them. Without such roadmaps, everything else you do to promote creativity and innovation is a waste of time.

The best way to establish a roadmap is to dream up a really crazy idea; not a slightly crazy idea, but a really crazy one. Anticonventional thinking is a good way to do this. Then try to implement it. You will almost certainly run into barriers very quickly. That's okay. At each barrier, you need to devise a means of getting past it and to the next barrier.

Document each step you make and review it. Can you find ways to streamline the path you have taken? Are there permanent barriers, to idea implementation, that need to be changed? If so, how can you make or at least instigate those changes. A roadmap with a huge barrier in the road will not help people get to their destination.

This will not be easy. It will take considerable time. But if you succeed, you will greatly facilitate innovation in your organisation. And that is certainly worth the effort, don't you think?


Further reading on implementing ideas

Creative idea implementation plan (CIIP) - this is an article I wrote some years ago and provides a framework for implementing highly creative ideas.

How to implement your creative vision - this article is a summary of the implementation planning process used in anticonventional thinking.


Your Implementation Roadmap

Does your organisation have a roadmap for implementing big, awesome ideas? If not, Let's change that. Call or email me and let's change that!

Telephone +32 2 305 6591 or +32 478 549 428 (GSM) or use the form to get in touch today.


Want to Discuss This With Me?

If so, get in touch. I'd love to chat about it with you!

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Jeffrey Baumgartner
Bwiti bvba

Erps-Kwerps (near Leuven & Brussels) Belgium