Saturday, August 4, 2007

What is the Difference Between a Suggestion Box and an Idea Management System?

The difference is a matter of historical evolution.

The traditional Suggestions Box was originally a physical box, with a slot in the top, that sat in a suitable location in a building and people physically dropped their written idea suggestions into it. The ideas submitted to the suggestions box were then periodically reviewed by a designated person, typically a member of the administrative staff or the owner of the business or manager of a business unit.

In the 1990s, developments around innovation practices such as the notion of a stage-gate process lent more discipline and rigour to the process of innovation, and companies became more sophisticated about the kinds of organisational structures used to assess idea suggestions. A number of approaches developed, including "innovation councils" and innovation "cross-functional teams". With these developments, the modern Idea Management System was born.

In parallel with the development of the Suggestions Box into the Idea Management System companies such as Imaginatik (1994) and General Ideas Software (now BrightIdea) (1999) entered the market, allowing companies to capture and process ideas through dedicated software packages. Such tools allowed managers to configure and run 'idea campaigns.' In addition to these industry pioneers, a number of further vendors have entered the market, such as JPB (makers of Jenni), Idea Champions (makers of IngenuityBank), and OVO (makers of their Spark and Incubator products).

1 comment:

David Wallace said...

There's a far greater difference than "passive idea collection" vs. "active idea promotion." At Imaginatik Research, we've stressed People/Process enabled by Technology -- a three-legged approach that can easily fail if one of those legs is weak or wobbly.

Granted, the suggestions box might have been helpful -- not timely or essential -- in its day. But knowledge work demands a nearly constant flow of information and reactions, relying on current facts, interpretations and responses from expert sources.