Monday, July 22, 2013

The Top 5 Idea Enrichment Issues

Idea Enrichment is a must have step for Disruptive Innovation

Or another title might be…Everybody is a critic…Looking closely at winning ideas

The review of ideas is an important step in the ideation process.  Crowdsourcing a topic will yield lots of contributions.  You’ll end up with a ranked list of ideas. But are they of any value?  The trick is to take the very best or winning ideas and THEN look very critically to see if they’ll fly.

First off, there are certain ideas that don’t need enrichment

Incremental ideas typically don’t require too much enrichment.  Either they're a good idea or they’re not.  Either they make or save money .  Or perhaps they save time.  Not much analysis required.

On the other hand...Organizations must enrich Disruptive Innovations
When you challenge your crowdsourcing audience to give you ideas (ask for ideas on a specific subject or to solve a particular problem), you have a fighting chance of receiving ideas on a topic you’re interested in.  If you’re lucky you’ll get what’s called Disruptive or Breakthrough Ideas. 

These ideas change everything….


…As a result a company might get into a whole new business, retool production lines, assemble whole new teams and marketing plans to get a new product launched.

The problem then is, before we spend money on this new idea, let’s give it a very critical once over. 

  1. How do we examine good ideas? 
  2. To what aspects of the ideation process should we be assessing?
  3. What methods should we use to ensure these good ideas are a safe bet?

Three years ago I examined the subject of “how we look at ideas”.  I pointed out how De Bono calls this aspect of ideation the Blue Hat in his Six Hats methodology of looking at ideas.  You can read the entry here

Think about WHO we invite to do the critiquing.  And what to expect from their efforts.

Stay away from experts who are physically close or friendly with the ideators.  People who are friendly with the ideators (or who work closely with; down the hall from, etc.) are going to be favorably biased.  Close proximity creates rapport.  They may profess to remain unbiased but let’s face it, you’re going to vote for your buddy.  When you select experts your best bet is to choose amongst professionals who are unaffiliated.

Expect expert reviewers to bias their decisions in favor of more senior contributors.  There’s an innate sense we all feel that senior people are more competent.  We value their contributions more because of the source.   

When it counts, experts will turn up requirements.  When the topic is really important to the organization, expect reviewers to have more stringent criteria than less critical notions.  When the weight of their decisions carry significant ramifications, reviewers will look very carefully and use higher standards for success.

Competitive Processes
It’s a great idea to assign each of the top two or three ideas to separate groups of experts.  Let them vet these notions using a system to score the ideas.  A SWOT analysis is a perfect mechanism to provide a common scheme for comparison.  When done, let each team compete to advocate the idea they enriched.

Final Reviews
In the real world, when the very best idea has been agreed upon and enriched,  a due diligence step helps make turning the idea into a project a safer bet.  An organization should look at a winning idea using the perspectives they use for every new project.  These perspectives should be unique to the organization.

Some examples of these points of view might be…

  • What is the feasibility of this idea?
  • What is the strategic fit of this idea in comparison with the rest of our product line?
  • What competitive advantage does this idea offer to us?
  • Is this idea cost effective?

If you look within your own company you’ll know what the avenues for assessment are best for your company and industry.

I also answered the enrichment question on Quora with a deep dive examination of the SWOT process and a Final Review or feasibility study.  You can read the entry here

 So insist on an enrichment phase as part of the ideation process.  Assemble unaffiliated, cross disciplined groups of experts to review the best ideas.  Arrange a competitive environment for review teams.  Use our own industry's or company's unique important requirements to assess whether a winning idea is "project ready".

Mills, B., “Social Pressure at the Plate: Inequality Aversion, Status, and Mere Exposure,” Managerial and Decision Economics (forthcoming).
Ron Shulkin blogs researches and writes about enterprise technology focused on social media, innovation, voice of the customer, marketing automation and enterprise feedback management.  You can learn more about Ron at his biography web You can follow him Twitter. You can follow his blogs at this Facebook group.  You can connect with Ron on LinkedIn.  

Ron Shulkin is Vice President of the Americas for CogniStreamer®, an innovation ecosystem. CogniStreamer serves as a Knowledge Management System, Idea Management System and Social Network for Innovation. You can learn more about CogniStreamer here . Ron manages The Idea Management Group on LinkedIn (JoinHere).

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