Turning Good Ideas into Operational Reality

Lots of companies these days are focused on innovation and idea generation. In fact, one of the major reasons CIOs are backing Enterprise 2.0 is to provide tools to the entire distributed organization for idea capture, collaboration, and ranking. Here are some of my tips on fostering "useful" idea generation so that the organization can implement the best ideas:

  • Communicate the business strategy - I think it's ok for some ideas to be totally "green" and separate from strategy, but most corporations invest a lot of time, money, and expertise into developing a strategy. Ideas that support the business strategy already have the basis for investment so encourage the team to think "on strategy".
  • Define the idea - Good ideas should have some structure especially if you're successful in getting the organization to propose many ideas. By defining a structure, it gives a mechanism to compare ideas. It's also a good mechanism for encouraging staffers to collaborate on ideas especially if multiple skills are required to define them.
  • Encourage (require) collaboration - Brute force is ok here, as in "Ideas must be presented by a team of three or more from the following departments. The best ideas no longer come from department silos.
  • Require transparency - This is where tools help, but they don't necessarily require specialized ones. Define an idea as a structured wiki page, a Google form, a Quickbase App, etc.
  • Accept big and small ideas - It's too easy to focus a process on the big ideas, but small ideas implemented efficiently can also have significant impact.
  • Define a process - Staffers should know when and how ideas are evaluated and staged through a process. Good ideas should be relatively easy to define before they go through a first stage of vetting. Small ideas (see point above) need a fast efficient process. Staffers should know the follow up stages for getting funding on larger scale ideas.
There's at least one piece I'm leaving out which I'll leave for a follow up post. Can you guess what it is?

Special thanks to @robstoltz for suggesting this post!

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