Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Removing Barriers for Idea Submission: Ideas, Where They Come from and Why They Matter

By: Steven Telio, Director of Product Management at ideaPoint

What is Idea Submission and Why Does It Matter?

Idea submission is the act of articulating a proposal and getting it into the hands of people who might be interested in it. It is among the first steps of any innovation process and plays a pivotal role in the overall success of the process, since the quality of your downstream work depends on what happens early on.

Where Do Ideas Come from?

There is no shortage of places to look for ideas. They could come from the person sitting next to you, people in your department, those co-located with you or everyone within your organization. Many of the most innovative ideas are likely to come from outside of your organization, from others within your marketspace or industry, or from subject matter experts a world away. Another rich source of ideas? External partners, trusted people who work for another company or organization and can bring unique skills and expertise to bear.

No matter where the ideas originate, one fundamental decision point you will face is whether you prefer quantity or quality. In other words, do you want to establish an ideation and idea submission process which makes it easy to submit ideas even if they are not fully formed, or would you prefer to receive only the highest quality, most well-rounded submissions?

Lean towards the former and you may receive a higher volume of ideas, yet the onus will be on the organization to effectively review and vet all of them to find those of consequence. You may also need to follow up directly with the submitter to fill in any gaps in their submission.

Alternatively, leaning towards the latter by raising the bar on what information is required before a submission can even be made, shifts the burden back to the submitter. This may also involve providing visibility into your internal corporate “areas of interest” so that the submitter has insight into what ideas or opportunities would be most likely to receive consideration. Providing these things increases the odds that ideas will align with your strategy and may make it easier for you to vet ideas. 

Yet, in the process you may miss out on any diamonds in the rough, ideas which may not yet be complete enough to meet your process benchmarks or concepts for new market opportunities that may not be on your immediate strategic horizon. Or worse, you may never learn about an idea because the potential submitter may have been deterred by the submission process itself.

Regardless of which approach you choose, align the process with your organization’s goals and ability to evaluate submissions.

This is the second post in a series of blogs titled “Removing Barriers for Idea Submission.” Each blog will address different barriers and challenges that innovation programs are faced with. For further information about a software solution to streamline your process for gathering ideas and accelerating innovations, visit www.idea-point.com or contact Pat McWilliams (Patrick.McWilliams@idea-point.com)

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