Monday, September 26, 2011

Who’s in charge of this idea anyway?

The thing about good ideas is that usually more than none person has something to contribute. That’s why some groups have brainstorming sessions. And also why most people agree “two heads are better than one”. All of that thinking con tributes to the value of a collaborative environment facilitated by an on line system… connecting the players by software (available on a browser).

Of course idea management systems have other layers. There are mechanisms to tap into social science measurements to determine the wisdom of the crowd. The best ideas have more than just the most votes, but also the best ideas have the ones where the most similar ideas are submitted by various players, the ideas has the most comments, the most votes on the comments, the most views, the most “follows”, the most bookmarks…all of them contribute to the determination of which are the best ideas.

It is also good to set up various teams to work together. Usually these people have a common area of interest. Although the ideation process benefits from having different disciplines contribute (engineers, marketing people, financial folks), each with their own perspectives. Di Bono promotes the idea of different emotional perspectives weighing in: “let’s bring in the naysayers to pick this apart; let’s bring in the emotional people; let’s bring in those that like to share”. Good idea management systems help identify each type of person and integrate with their email in order to bring them to the discussion.

Idea management systems, like most collaborative tools (think Facebook) are very democratic. Everyone is on an equal footing. Unlike a meeting in the real world where frequently the most well paid person always has the best idea (whether he does or not), contributors on a collaborative system have an equal voice in the process. Anyone’s idea counts. And good ideas frequently have multiple inventors.

Our interest in hierarchies may be more than just practical. As humans, we may be wired to appreciate them. In a recent study, “The Fluency of Social Hierarchy: The Ease with which Hierarchical Relationships Are Seen, Remembered, Learned and Liked” in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a series of experiments found that hierarchical relationships were the easiest to understand.

Organizational charts were more easily memorized than other arrangements. As a result they were more liked. If you can see the layout of your relationships, you accept them and work more readily with your team. A collaborative idea management system can tie all the players in and you can even get a graphical representation of the team, with various power elucidated.

Who gets to vote, which gets to contribute, who is on what team…who the “innovation managers” are. When the best ideas are promoted, who will do the downstream analysis? It doesn’t make a difference what division you’re in, or what time zone the other guy is in, all that matters is that you’re on a team with a common purpose working together to come up with the best ideas and making the best ideas ready to be turned into a project.

Simply stated, an idea management system can bring a team of people together and present a graphical organization chart so every team member knows who they’re working with, who they report to, what power each has in the process and more. Each person has the confidence of knowing where they stand.

So get with the program, an idea management system brings people together from disparate locations, sometimes disparate disciplines but all from a common area of interest. The relationships are easily understood and a “stuck” team can get help when they need it.

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) . If you search on “Shulkin” here at the FEI blog web site, you’ll find numerous entries on idea management systems.

CogniStreamer® is used as the backbone for many companies’ culture of innovation. It is the idea collaborative tool to generate ideas. CogniStreamer is both an innovation knowledge management and idea management software tool, available both SaaS and behind clients’ firewalls. 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, BPost, 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. Plus it supported by a team of experts who have built best practices and lend guidance based on practical experience.

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