Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Business Case For Idea Management Systems (or 'Why Don't More Companies Implement Idea Management Systems?')

Cognitive Transitions has released a short information brief addressing the "Business Case For Idea Management Systems." The information brief argues,with reference to contemporary executive innovation surveys, that:
  1. Effective innovation is now regarded as imperative for the typical modern organization in order to achieve growth targets; develop new products, services, processes and business models; achieve product and service differentiation; and realize sustainable competitive advantage
  2. Innovation surveys show that organizations are frequently not happy with current innovation outcomes
  3. Innovation surveys show that top performing innovators are using Idea Management Systems as a key component to their successful innovation initiatives
Taken together, these three points constitute the 'business case' for Idea Management Systems as part of any organizational innovation initiative.

However, while the strong 'business case' can be mounted that Idea Management Systems are a central tool in disciplined, successful and repeatable innovation initiative, Idea Management Systems do not currently seem to be a mainstream focus in executive mindset or in innovation literature - thus presenting something of an 'Idea Management paradox'.

To take an example, a recent survey of executive priorities and concerns in the Conference Board CEO Challenge 2007 ranked the top 10 overall challenges faced by CEOs, listing 'Sustained and Top-line Growth', 'Profit Growth', and 'Stimulating Creativity / Innovation / Entrepreneurship' as 2nd, 4th and 9th.

However, drilling down specifically into the challenges faced by CEOs in realizing their organization's innovation objectives, the survey did not explicitly cite any concerns relating to developing systematic processes around capturing, developing, and assessing ideas or indeed any process focus as among the key innovation concerns raised by executives. The topic of innovation processes was only addressed only tangentially in the 9th-ranked challenge, developing 'completely new products / services' and the 8th-ranked challenge 'improvement in original [existing] products / processes'. Processes for innovation were not rated at all in the additional list of executive's top 10-ranked barriers to innovation.

For companies implementing, or preparing to implement, an Idea Management solution, the 'Idea Management paradox' presents a short window of strategic opportunity to move ahead in innovating effectively before their competition, by introducing and refining their Idea Management System first.

Idea Management consultants and vendors and also organizations seeking to enhance their innovation capabilities for consistent, repeatable successful innovation results will benefit from further efforts to communicate the benefits of Idea Management Systems more widely.

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