Sunday, December 7, 2008

Community Oriented Idea Management Ecosystems

Jay van Zyl from the Built to Thrive blog has recently posted a useful overview of several recent community oriented idea management ecosystems or "emergent idea ecologies" involving customers in the ideation process, including approaches by Lego, 3M, Apple, BMW, Dell, Starbucks, and

Jay focuses on the interface between companies and their customer communites, and argues that traditional "internally focused" Idea Management Systems are inherently limited as
  1. It becomes an administration nightmare. The more enthusiastic the organization the bigger the problem. Hundreds of ideas and only a few people to check, review, approve and re-direct ideas.
  2. Volumes of ideas that have nothing to do with the business or its current challenges.
  3. Dependence on specifically skilled people and a review process that is overly controlling.
  4. Little- or no- follow-through on ideas to the individuals that participated in capturing ideas; resulting in damaging any further idea generation campaigns.

I believe that the problems that Jay cites are exactly the problems that traditional Idea Management Systems from Idea Management vendors have been explicitly developed to address - and they do so quite well.

I would suggest that the nub of the issue is that the examples that Jay cites are, in general, not implementations of traditional vendor developed Idea Management Systems, but rather custom in-house solutions developed by specific organisations within a specific context following a specific philosophy. In general, the organisations cited by Jay developed solutions focused predominantly on the web 2.0 front end, and did not pay strong attention to the essential back-end processes where much of the real work of innovation takes place.

Accordingly, it is quite possible to agree with a diagnosis of the limitations of many of the examples cited (they focus excessively on the front end web 2.0 idea capture processes and fail to provide sufficient support for the back end idea proecessing and implementation processes, roles and resourcing) but still endorse strongly the traditional approach to Idea Management, which arguably address very well many of the issues of concern to Jay, both internally and when interfacing outwards to customers.


Unknown said...

Actually, IdeaStorm (and Starbucks) seems to be driven by SalesForce, so aren't just custom software implementations.

I have absolutely nothing to do with SalesForce, but came across that while researching idea management solutions for my own gig.

Dr. Lauchlan A. K. Mackinnon said...

Hi Todd

Thanks for your comment!

Yes, IdeaStorm and Starbucks are based on SalesForce Ideas, but while SalesForce ideas is a solution from a vendor it might not necessarily be viewed as a traditional Idea Management System.

There has been quite a bit of discussion from Idea Management Software vendorsin the blogosphere about the limitations of SalesForce Ideas as an Idea Management System, particularly in regard to tits support for back end processes for assessing and implementing ideas as opposed to front end processes for generating and capturing ideas (the 'easy' part).

I would be interested to hear about your insights "researching idea management solutions for my own gig" and what you ultimately selected and why - drop me a line to let me know if you get a chance!


Lauchlan Mackinnon

Paul Tran said...

I agree with all the points Dr. Lauchlan. We've found the community can do a very good job in the creation and ranking of good ideas. By collaborating with others, the community can make turn those good ideas into more of a "reality". A good idea mgmt system should also be able to move those good ideas from the community and evaluate them to determine ROI for the business. It must also be able to build project plans to implement them. All along the way, there should be constant status updates back to the originator so the loop is constantly turning and evolving.

We at Brightidea have been passionate about this process for many years. Here is a good presentation that I'd like to share:

BrightIdea Overview


Paul Tran
Brightidea – Innovation & Idea Management
415-992-2082 office/mobile
415-842-0300 fax

Yahoo IM: paultran888
Twitter: twitter/paultran888

John Gabrick said...

I agree with your analysis. Idea/Innovation Management is much more than submissions and commenting. As with other business processes, innovation requires both tools and an enabling environment to insure success.

Imaginatik said...

Innovation is clearly a driving force of corporate growth and profitability. the need to therefore innovate on a more consistent and pervasive basis is therefore also entirely logical. And the means of doing this, on a procedural basis, would be termed 'Idea Management', at least at the front end of the process.

And like all processes, one sees 'good' Idea Management and 'bad' idea management.

It can decently be argued that the Dell and Starbucks approach is bad idea management. This is because there is no attempt to protect any intellectual property, essential to extracting value from innovation. These are essentially marketing gimmicks. It is well known that all Dell's competitors use the system to trawl through the ideas.

And then there is good idea management. As a service and technology provider in this space for a decade (Imaginatik), we have many success stories of enterprise deployments where you blend together leadership, metrics, motivation & engagement, workflow processes, and different techniques for ideation and problem solving. A selection of the case studies can be found on our site in the customer section.

This is an area that is growing at over 50% per year according to Forrester Research, and clearly hits on major trends of social computing, and the need for more openness and transparency within and beyond corporations. Definitely an area to keep watching.

Mark Turrell
CEO, Imaginatik plc

Unknown said...

Have look a this website

Unknown said...

Thanks for the motivating tips. Actually everyone need tips for their success. Many have the ideas but don't know how to express it. I had been once in such a condition. That time i had learnt the business development tools from a Fast Track Tools e-learning Package. Now am very happy to say that i got succeeded in my Business.

George said...

I have to agree with Mark, there are only a handful of systems on the market that recognize the value of IP and are designed to contain ideas from being shared with unwanted parties. This is specially critical with systems designed for open innovation, where you may want to share information with a particular subset of users (i.e.: customer A and supplier X) but keep their competitors, who may also be openly innovating with a group within your organization, segregated.

George Rathbun