Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Steve Shapiro on Idea Management Systems

Steve Shapiro, a prominent innovation author and consultant, wrote recently on his blog that
A large bank in England asked their employees for new ideas using an idea management system (a tool). Unfortunately the executives never implemented any of the ideas causing a massive rebellion by employees and the eventual dismantling of their innovation efforts. Leadership must show a commitment to innovation. It must not be viewed as another project. It must be treated as a way of life; a never ending mindset.
Shapiro's core point about the necessity for organisations to develop and maintain an innovation culture, with sustained leadership executive commitment to funding and managing the innovation initiative effectively, is a key point and is well taken.

However, it is important to note that the phrases "executives never implemented any of the ideas" - and Shapiro's related suggestion on his blog post that innovation initiatives are often not sufficiently well funded to invest to a significant enough extent in the most promising innovation ideas - is not in any way in conflict with the usefulness of Idea Management Systems as a tool for managing innovation outcomes.

This is because the whole point of an Idea Management System is to maintain a pipeline where ideas are assessed and a portfolio of the most promising ideas are invested in. Providing the necessary funding for the Idea Management System to work is as axiomatic as providing the budget the marketing people need in order to implement, for example, a lead generation strategy, or the budget for a project to succeed. A well conceived and implemented Idea Management System will allow appropriately qualified and informed individuals to systematically test ideas against established commercial and technical criteria, and provide sufficient funding to invest in a portfolio of suitably promising ideas.

While there is a wide range of manners in which an Idea Management System can be set up, and a variety of appropriate funding schemas could be considered, there still remains the necessity to apply best practices in Idea Management when implementing the Idea Management solution.

Like any significant organisational process, an Idea Management System needs to be properly designed and implemented to achieve the desired outcomes.