Monday, August 30, 2010

Can Ideas Be Managed?

In comments to a recent blog post, Hutch Carpenter from Spigit and Mark Turrell from Imaginatik took up the question of "whether it even makes sense to say that ideas can be managed."

This is a great question, and I think it goes to the heart of what Idea Management is all about.

To me, the key distinction I bear in mind is that:
  • Creativity and the generation of new ideas may vary between quite unpredictable creative and psychological processes to predictable manageable processes. So the creative act of generating ideas may not always be manageable. 
  • But what organizations do with ideas once they have been generated can be managed systematically, as the ideas generated are assessed for their business value and the cost and ease and value of implementation, and managed through to delivery of business benefits or outcomes. 
Mark and Hutch suggest that "ideas are easy, Innovation is hard." This is true up to a point.

It is relatively easy to generate a lot of ideas. It can sometimes be hard though to generate really good ideas, which is why there is a continuing focus on creativity tools and techniques, innovation strategies are important, and there is an ongoing demand for thought leaders in any field. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Four Drivers For Innovation

There are four main drivers for innovation:

1. Top Line Revenue Growth. 
Creating new revenue through innovating new or improved products and services

2. Bottom Line Efficiencies
Innovating to reduce costs and create efficiencies to improve the bottom line.

3. Differentiation
Differentiating your company and products and services in a sustainable meaningful way.

4. Relevance and agility
The market is changing and your competitors are innovating ... maintain relevance in a changing market environment by innovating.

All of these innovation drivers are important, and your organisation should be concerned with and address all of them. However, typically your organisation's mandate for innovation will favour one, or some, of the 4 innovation drivers over the others.

For example, in the 1990s, American Airline's IdeAAs in Action program was primarily focused around bottom line cost reductions, and saved the airline $43M in 1996. Apple Computer's innovation around the iPod, iPhone and later the iPad was a differentiation strategy, and was also central to maintaining relevance in a changing market environment.

When in the design stage planning the architecture for your Idea Management processes, being clear about your innovation drivers and objectives is essential as you start making critical design decisions around  your Idea Management System such as governance structure, financing structures and portfolio management for implementing the best ideas, and incentive arrangements for motivating and engaging employees in the innovation process. Different decisions can lead to very different Idea Management System designs.

Takeaway: It is important to be clear about your innovation drivers and objectives when designing your Idea Management strategy and implementation, because different innovation objectives can lead to quite  Idea Management System implementations and lead to quite different innovation outcomes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Are You The Innovation Cool Kid On the Block?

These days, it seems that almost everyone is using an iPad or iPhone or other smartphone device, and the 'app' market for these devices is going crazy. It seems like there is an app for almost everything.

Which gets me wondering ... do you have an iPhone or iPad app your people can use with your Idea Management System? 

If so, leave a comment and let me know!