By: Steven Telio, Director of Product Management at ideaPoint
Innovation Programs often fall victim to a series of unknowns and barriers resulting from gaps in the program itself. With this as a backdrop, it is important remember that how you set up your innovation program may mitigate some, but not all, of the barriers.
Idea submission can be hindered by personal barriers. Potential idea submission can be prevented because of the lack of awareness that anyone is seeking a particular type of idea or the fear that they may lose ownership of their idea.
Barrier 1: Submission Process
“I have an idea I want to share with the company, but I do not know how to do it.”
“I want to understand what you intend to do with my idea.”
“What is the process for submitting an idea?”
A submission process that is confusing, complicated or unclear can heighten a potential submitter’s level of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) about an idea submission process. Too much FUD can lead to second-thoughts about how their ideas will be used, and whether they will ever get an update on their idea. Submitters are looking for some level of transparency about what happens with their ideas. It’s possible to track a package being shipped across the country or across the world, so why isn’t it possible to know where an idea is in the innovation funnel?
Mitigation: Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to address these concerns.
• First and foremost, provide as much detail about the process, any major decision points, expected timeline for decisions and how (or even if) feedback will be provided to the submitter. Give them confidence that there is an actual process which is being followed. (Oh, and of course, you do need to follow-through on that process.)
• Next, make it very easy to submit an idea anytime and from virtually anywhere. While you do need to be cognizant of security concerns, make sure the idea submission system is simply available to your core group of submitters.
• The system should guide the submitter to provide just enough (and not too much) information. If the process typically cannot be completed in a single sitting / session, make it easy to save work in process and easy to continue when they have the rest of the information.
Implement these steps and you will reduce uncertainty and doubt related to making a submission and create certainty about next steps on the process and when to expect feedback.
Best Practice: Submission Process
• Implement a consistent idea submission process throughout the organization. If possible, centralize the function.
• Ideas must be documented. Conversations don’t count, unless they’re later transcribed and included as supporting information with the idea.
• Make it easy to collect and submit ideas at any time, from anywhere. (Security concerns notwithstanding.)
• Only collect the information you need. It’s up to you to determine how much is enough.
Options: 1) Collect ALL possible information up front, and prevent people from submitting if they do not have each bit of info, or 2) require only the minimal amount needed to get started, and plan on following up with submitters directly if needed.
• Use technology to decrease friction and increase transparency:
- Provide access to external experts.
- Decrease time to vet and convert the best ideas into actionable results.
- Single collection point for all ideas.
- Positive employee engagement.
This is the third 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)