Idea Management (CogniStreamer blog)

Putting my blue hat on: Thinking @ Idea Management Systems

Idea management systems require more than just a collection of collaboration tools. Productive systems of this sort require some science in order to move ideas from light bulbs over someone’s head to scrambling to create a new way to manufacture light bulbs. Not only are participant’s actions contributory, but the nature of their contributions are meaningful and need to be acknowledged.

People naturally interact socially. Some of us like to find new things to share. Others like to take that information and evangelize to the team. Others like to pick it apart or laud it or adopt it.

The nature of open innovation maintains that the diversity of the crowd yields bigger leaps in progress. If our team has analytical information technology professionals and creative marketing people, we’re likely to look at any issue collectively with enhanced perspectives.

The focus of idea management systems, instead of a forum for free-for-all commentary, is to get our team to think together more effectively.
The focus of idea management systems, instead of a forum for free-for-all commentary, is to get our team to think together more effectively. Each of us are different sorts of people (at least according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the U.S. Department of Labor – Occupational Handbook) so each of us brings something different of value to the ideation process.

And each of us is capable of acting differently. We can get analytic, we can get emotional. We can think before we act, or we can act then think then act again.

The trick of a good idea management system is to not only capture our feedback, comments, responses and inputs…but to put a value on our inclinations and behaviors so we can use those measurements to appreciate their significance.

And good idea management systems enable us to think in similar or parallel ways at certain times to productively move forward. In other words, it doesn’t help anyone if one person is talking about their feelings while the rest of us are brainstorming.

Studies of our behavior have taught us that we need to apply some structure to the chaos idea management introduces. Without structure it wouldn’t be surprising for the 150 people on my team to want to talk about 150 different topics. Without structure we might talk about a particular topic forever instead of agreeing it is time to either put that idea into action or stick it back on a shelf. Good idea management puts time frames around processes and reduces the list of options into a few to focus one at a time.

Social tools have blessed the ideation process with the ability to open innovation. Good science allows those same idea management systems to emphasize the value of naturally occurring differences amongst people and their behaviors.

~ “Six Thinking Hats”, by dr. Edward De Bono

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