Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Stand up straight! Innovation needs a backbone.


Innovation is a hot topic. It’s in the news constantly. Businesses are trying to be innovators in order to recapture revenues lost during the downturn. Industries are pursuing innovation in order to remain credible, current and meaningful. Governments are relying on innovation to bring their populations forward. There are innovation contests everywhere…so much that it seems the contest itself is frequently the message more than any innovations realized amongst the winner.

And part and parcel of all this innovation is the act of tapping into the public’s consciousness for the new ideas. Phrases like collective intelligence and “the wisdom of the crowd” are the new bywords and bylaws of these new efforts. Yet recent studies show “83 percent of respondents said fewer than 25% of customer ideas are translated into new products. This finding suggests that most companies today not only lack a consistent way to capture and prioritize strategically important ideas but are also unable to translate those ideas into requirements, resulting in better, more profitable products.”

Other studies demonstrated “less than 50 percent of product ideas come from customers, partners and suppliers”. To me that means that organizations are asking for new ideas to fuel innovation but either not capturing the ideas properly or they just don’t have the mechanisms in place to process the ideas through to delivery.

A recent McKinsey study suggests most companies want to innovate. And they find most companies share the same obstacles to getting there: finding the right talent, encouraging collaboration & risk-taking, organizing innovation process from beginning to end.

The answer to many of these problems is surprisingly simple: an idea management system can be the backbone to all these efforts. Idea management systems can provide a collaborative environment, sort of like Facebook (but internal and the only thing people are talking about is ideas).

An idea management system that uses tag cloud technology can make it simple to find someone with the skills you need rather rapidly (and not by what people claim, but by their prior activity within the system). And an idea management system can hold onto ideas and provide a process for your organization to move those forwards toward delivery.

Innovation is a hot topic and absolutely should be a culture your organization embraces. But seriously consider an idea management tool as the backbone to this effort, engaging the team, capturing their ideas and imaginations, and helping your organization compete by tapping into the wisdom of the crowds who hold an interest in your topic.

Ron Shulkin is Vice President of the Americas for CogniStreamer®, an innovation management system. You can learn more about CogniStreamer here

Ron manages The Idea Management Group on LinkedIn (Join Here). He has written extensively on Idea Management (Read Here).

CogniStreamer® is an idea management software tool. It is an open innovation and collaboration platform where internal colleagues and external partner companies or knowledge centers join forces to create, develop and assess innovative ideas within strategically selected areas. The CogniStreamer® portal is an ideal collaborative platform that invites users to actively build a strong innovation portfolio. In addition it provides a powerful resource for internal and external knowledge sharing. The CogniStreamer® framework is used by industry leaders such as Atlas Copco, Bekaert, Case New Holland, Cytec, Imec, Picanol and ThyssenKrupp. CogniStreamer® represents the best use of adaptive collaborative technology such to harness human skill, ingenuity and intelligence.

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