Seemingly what everyone agrees on are these facts:
- Idea management systems (versus generalized collaboration tools) will yield projects with cost benefits that help pay for the system. Either new products or processes will result in actual dollars. This is because the collaboration of idea management will yield actionable ideas.
- All idea management systems will yield ideas.
- The problem is the new systems will likely yield too many ideas; the struggle is how to figure out how to act on the ideas; how to move them forward to projects that can be implemented.
There are two more reasons lurking about:
Organizational Engagement and Strategic Alignment.
It’s just a little tougher to bring a million dollar project to the board with those as stated goals. They lack clear cost justification.
Idea management deployments at big organizations are inevitable, at least according to Forrester and Gartner. The deployment is likely to be tricky, but that holds true for every enterprise software deployment. The good news is that with idea management, unlike generic internal social media tools, the ideas yield cost justification (either process improvements or new product roll outs). If the system is blessed at the get-go by senior management; if some ideas get moved to production, the “belief rate” by the team rapidly grows.
Participation goes up. Participation is easier than one would think. There are game theory approaches to draw people in. Participants get points, t-shirts, iPads, donations to their favorite charities (nice alignment with HR’s goals!). This can be presented as a virtual Pyramid of Incentives.
Idea management systems have mechanisms to thin out the number of ideas. There are human methods (like voting, management synthesis, stock market mechanisms, etc.) and there are technological approaches like algorithms that can make workable short lists.
The process of deployment requires a facilitated approach. Not just a disruptive insertion of new tools. Strategic alignment surfaces as another side benefit. The team needs to know what type of ideas management is looking for. The idea management system gives management a method for nurturing the culture, not losing control of it.
When a good idea comes from one department that impacts another, a sponsor needs to be surfaced to shepherd it through to production. So if an engineer comes up with a good marketing idea, someone in marketing needs to take over as its parent.
It probably doesn’t surprise anyone when, after deploying an idea management system, a glut of ideas surface and become apparent. People want to try it, they’ve been thinking about these ideas all along and now’s a chance to capture them and be heard. The problem isn’t that there won’t be ideas. The problem will be too many of them. And management wants ideas of the type they want. Management can nudge ideas in certain directions.
So managements goals on the surface might be to get new ideas, but Organizational Engagement and Strategic Alignment are the real benefits. They’re just cost justifying the idea management deployment with new ideas brought to production.