Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How Idea Management Systems Make Us Wealthy

In the success philosophy movement, motivational speaker Jim Rohn was fond of saying that the most compelling reason for becoming wealthy was not for the riches we acquire on achieving our goals, but for the personal qualities we must acquire as human beings during the process of becoming successful.

Rohn told us that in order to achieve sustainable high levels of success - measured in terms of financial outcomes - we must first somewhere along the path develop a good business sense, acquire an ability to form and maintain relationships of trust and mutual support, and attain the ability to lead, persuade, sell, and hire and manage people without violating that trust. To achieve high levels of success demands from us high levels of character, learning, and personal development. In achieving the outcome of wealth, we also necessarily achieve significant outcomes that we may not have anticipated, or consciously intended, when starting out on the path to success.

It is similar with organizations. As discussed previously on, we pursue innovation and Idea Management because of one or more of the 4 Drivers Of Innovation. That is, we aim to increase revenue growth, reduce costs, differentiate from the competition, and maintain relevant in a changing world, and we do this ultimately to increase our profitability sustainably in to the future.

But the process of implementing an Idea Management System to achieve these elevated levels of wealth demands much more from us. We grow and change along the way. Here are just a few examples:

  • As people from across your organization step in to the world of possibilities and suggest ideas and then see their ideas assessed, implemented and actioned leading to real results that make a difference, people begin to be engaged and excited about what is happening in the organization. This leads to high levels of motivation, higher levels of input of energy and time, more staff satisfaction, greater staff retention, and the ability to attract even more qualified and high potential candidates for new roles. 
  • As people see ideas being proposed, and work together in teams to assess, develop and implement the ideas suggested, Idea Management can lead to greater knowledge sharing and the building and enhancement of strong working relationships.
  • In our path to innovation maturity, we must start thinking about the processes required for effective innovation management, and further develop and enhance our innovation processes - and our general level of process maturity

Implementing Idea Management Systems does help us become wealthy, in the hard-nosed economic and business sense implicit in the pursuit of the 4 Drivers Of Innovation and the resultant business outcomes. However, successfully implementing an Idea Management System does much, much more, and provides a different kind of wealth to our organizations. It allows us to become better at what we do, make our workplace a better place to work, bring out the best in our people, and make a difference to the world.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Innovation News - Week of September 27th

Here is some of the innovation and Idea Management news that crossed my desk during the last week leading up to September 28th:

ZDNet interviewed innovation author David Croslin on Innovation Management. The article raised some interesting questions about the boundaries of innovation management, citing Starbucks and Dell in the discussion. Croslin questioned the value of the ideas that had been collected, and pointed to the necessity of business people and business processes to process the ideas generated. As Jeffrey Baumgartner suggested in the comments,
"... tools like Dell's IdeaStorm and Starbuck's platform are really suggestion schemes and not idea management by any definition. They are tools that invite customers to submit ideas - like the suggestion boxes of old. But they do not structure innovation nor provide any process for managing ideas that come in."
I'm hearing distinct echos of conversations from a couple of years ago, when we were questioning the value of Starbucks and Dell's Idea Management approaches ...

The Front End of Innovation published an article on the "innovation wars", an interesting perspective on the state of the Idea Management market.

Imaginatik interviewed Gina O'Connor of the Lally School of Management and Technology on incremental versus breakthrough innovation. The article explores the relative merits of incremental and breakthrough innovations and advocates a balanced portfolio of both kinds of innovaitons.

Idea Management Software vendor Kindling is going international, announcing localization of their software application in to other languages and new partners for distributing their software globally.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Innovation at Google

Tom Davenport has researched innovation at Google, and reported on Google's approach to innovation in the Harvard Business Review.

In the below video, the Harvard Business Review interviews Davenport about innovation at Google.

The two key takeaways for me are:
  • Google's willingness to get results in front of an audience early to test them and iterate and develop them
  • Google's reliance on their innovation ecosystem

Thursday, September 23, 2010

7 Days To Go To Purchase The Idea Management Systems Report At The Reduced Price!

If you haven't already purchased the Idea Management Systems Report and are intending to, this is a quick reminder that the price will be going back up in 7 days time on October 1st 2010.

Purchasing now at the reduced price will also entitle you to an upgrade to version 2.0 of the Idea Management Report when version 2.0 is released later this year.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Nothing Is More Powerful Than A Good Idea

"Creative thinking is today's most prized, profit producing possession for any individual, corporation or country. It has the capacity to change you, your business, and the world."
- Robert P Crawford, 1954, The Techniques of Creative Thinking
Ideas remain just as powerful and important for us today as they were for Crawford in 1954 - if not more so.

Crawford believed that one of the reasons why ideas are powerful is that "new ideas ... possess within them the power to remake a world."

The reason that innovation can transform your working world is that innovation is unlike most other kinds of change experienced by your organization. Innovation generates ideas and opportunities from within your organisation. With innovation, change is not imposed on the organization, by external forces, or by projects or reforms driven by leaders.

There are three major benefits of change brought about through innovation processes:
  1. Because changes are generated from within, and because the ideas selected in the innovation process are high value and realize exciting opportunities, your people tend to endorse and boost these changes - rather than resisting it as they may do for other forms of change.
  2. Because the process of generating ideas, selecting the best ones and implementing them for results engages people in to the world of vision and possibility, effective innovation tends to motivate and engage your staff.
  3. Because these changes may include valuable suggestions for improving your organizational processes, systems and ways of working, these suggestions tend to gradually rework and improve your organization from the inside, with both problem identification and solution identification coming from the people who know what needs fixing.
    If you want to transform your organization, and the world - and perhaps in the journey change yourself - a free flow of new and powerful ideas is a good place to start.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Innovation News - Week of September 20th

    Here is some of the innovation and Idea Management news that crossed my desk during the last week leading up to September 21st:

    Imaginatik touched on the subject of incentive schemes for your Idea Management System, with an article quoting some fascinating psychological research showing the value of intrinsic motivation in rewarding employee contributions. Incentive schemes are a significant subject with many complexities and nuances, but the value of intrinsic motivation is well supported. A good academic reference is economist Bruno Frey's book Not Just For The Money, in which Frey ran some classic studies to show the impact of financial incentives on behaviour and how financial incentives could disrupt intrinsic motivation.

    Jeffrey Baumgartner of argued that idea management implementations can and should be simple. Baumgartner makes an excellent point, but conversely if an organisation has developed a high degree of process maturity then they will want an idea management system that can support that level of process definition. Matching the idea management solution to your corporate culture, processes and way of thinking is a significant consideration when selecting an Idea Management System solution. Otherwise, like many Enterprise Resource Planning solutions you may need to some extent reengineer your processes to match your technology solution. also this week announced that the Jenni Idea Management System will gain local US support as in a joint venture with Reliant Tech of New Jersey, USA, The Idea Hunter, of London, UK and Synopse of India, (the makers of Jenni Idea Management software) have launched a new company in the USA to oversee developing, selling and marketing Jenni innovation process management in the Americas and India. The new company will be led by Dan Kenyon and will enable to serve better the American market and improve the pace of software development.

    Finally, Blogging Innovation released the results from their survey to find their top 40 innovation bloggers of 2010. This is a great list of smart business people sharing their knowledge online.

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Procter & Gamble CEO A. G. Lafley Discusses Innovation Processes at Procter & Gamble

    In this video, Procter & Gamble CEO A. G. Lafley discusses innovation processes at Procter & Gamble.

    Some of the key points are that:
    • Innovation needs to be integrated in to everything we do
    • We need to develop an innovation culture
    • Innovation should be customer-centric: focused on meeting the needs and demands of the customer
    • Ideas are tested at early stages with end-consumers to move as closely as possible to co-designing products and services with customers
    • Innovation is a managed process from qualifying the idea through development through to commercialisation through to launching to the marketplace. 

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Are You Ahead Of The Curve Or Behind The Game?

    Last week I talked about Everett Rogers' model for the diffusion of innovations, and asked what kind of company are you with response to changes and innovations in your industry? In that article, I was focused on asking how your company responds to innovations and change in your industry and market.

    Now I want to use that understanding to develop some perspective on the current Idea Management System software market. I'm going to talk about the industry shifts that are happening, and will continue to happen, as companies adopt innovation processes at different rates.

    The Three Phases Of Idea Management

    The diagram below shows the 5 categories from the diffusion of innovation model - innovators, early adopters, the early majority, the late majority, and laggards. Superimposed on the model, however, are three distinct time periods for the adoption of Idea Management Systems for managing innovation processes.

    Image adapted from

    In a nutshell, there are three phases for the diffusion of Idea Management System in to the market: 'Leaders' adopting the system before the majority of the market, the 'mainstream' coming aboard afterwards, and the 'followers' trailing behind.

    Before I talk about what this means for organizations and why when you adopt rigorous innovation processes matters, I'll take a brief moment to explain the phases.

    The Leaders

    Idea Management System software really started coming in to existence in the mid 1990s, as the suggestion box moved online. 

    'Innovators' - companies at the leading edge of adoption of Idea Management Systems - started using Idea Management Systems seriously from the early 2000s onwards. Early software solutions to support Idea Management such as and Imaginatik's Idea Central became available and supported this adoption. Over the decade from 2000 to 2010, new and powerful Idea Management solutions entered the market, existing solutions continued to improve, and organizations matured in their understanding of innovation and its challenges. It was no longer just the 'innovators' (the first 2.5%) adopting Idea Management Systems, in the 2000-2010 decade the early adopters also came on board.

    The Mainstream

    Today, however, Idea Management has developed significantly, and is beginning to be a mature solution that is being adopted by the 'early majority.' 

    A lot of the evidence for this change, while real and tangible, has a flavour of being anecdotal, such as an increased buzz around innovation processes in online conversations and reporting, and a visibly greater focus on innovation processes and supporting software systems within organizations as their CEOs and innovation officers discuss their innovation progress in the media. 

    It is however instructive to look at the level of focus on Idea Management by analysts such as Gartner. Gartner took an early interest in Idea Management solutions in the early 2000s, but subsequently shifted their focus to other subjects from around 2003 until around 2009. Gartner had very little to say regarding Idea Management during this intervening period. Recently however, in 2009 and 2010 Gartner have placed Idea Management Systems as having come out of the "trough of disillusionment" and being about to enter the "slope of enlightenment", as shown in the 2010 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies:

    image from Gartner

    Gartner are currently showing Idea Management as being "2 to 5 years" away from mainstream adoption.

    Similarly, Idea Management software solutions are typically now regarded as having gone through three or four generations of development. We are well past the early stages of innovation in idea management processes and supporting technology, and in to fairly mature product offerings quite ready for adoption by both early adopters and the early majority.

    While neither Gartner's crystal ball or mine guarantees perfect predictions, I anticipate that the adoption of Idea Management Systems will continue to be predominantly by the early majority for the next several years. This is marked on the top diagram above as the 'mainstream' phase.


    Once the mainstream have adopted Idea Management processes, we might expect that from perhaps 2015 to 2025 the remainder of market, except the "laggards" - who almost by definition will continue to hold out - will have adopted systematic approaches to innovation. They will face additional pressure to do so in order to maintain their market positioning relative to an increasingly innovative mainstream.

    What This Means

    All other things being equal, organizations adopting a disciplined approach to innovation management using an Idea Management System in some form or other in the leader phase have the opportunity to gain experience and maturity in innovation and to open up differentiation, competitive advantage, and increased revenue and reduced costs relative to their competition. 

    While there are significant efforts and risks to adopting in the innovator stage where a 'frontier' mentality of willingness to work with early forms of technology and develop the required processes and expertise may have been required, we are now well past that stage. Organizations adopting Idea Management Systems at the tail end of the leader phase stand to gain many of the benefits, without as great an effort as that expended by the innovators who adopted Idea Management Systems early in the 2000s.

    Organizations delaying the introduction of a systematic approach to innovation beyond the next 5 years risk falling behind the mainstream. If this occurs, they forfeit the potential advantages accruing from innovating before many of their competitors, but also face potential disadvantages from a deteriorating relative market position.

    More Specifically ...

    What matters, of course, is what is happening specifically in your industry. If your industry has been adopting systematic approaches to innovation for the last several years and your company has not, you may in fact already be in the 'follower' phase for your industry.

    Conversely, if no-one in your industry has yet adopted a systematic approach to innovation, you may be in a position to take the position of 'innovator' in your industry. This may allow you to create significant differentiation and sustainable competitive advantage and to create disruptive innovations within your industry.

    The Takeaway

    The diffusion of systematic approaches to innovation management using Idea Management Systems is entering a new phase. This will have the potential to reshape competitive positioning within industries. 

    How it will affect you will depend on the specifics of what has been happening already within your industry. 

    If you have already adopted an Idea Management System, you will stand to continue to gain. If you have not yet adopted such a system, there may be merits in considering adopting such a system in the near term.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Innovation News - Week of September 13th 2010

    Some news and updates regarding innovation and Idea Management from the last week:

    Imaginatik are launching a collaborative Idea Management initiative with NASA. Imaginatik also interviewed innovation author Paul Sloan. Some of the key points from the interview were that innovation needs to be led by an executive leader with vision for change, and that innovation budgets can be managed centrally or allocated by department.

    The Heart of Innovation talked about 41 things that business leaders can do to foster a culture of innovation.

    McKinsey Consulting recently released their Innovation and Commercialization 2010 Global Survey results - I'll have more to say on this in a later post.

    The Washington Post surveyed business leaders' views on innovation.

    BloggingInnovation talked about the importance of 'marketing' your Idea Management innovation initiative

    Adam Westerski collated a great set of links for what is happening in the Idea Management space.

    BuiltToThrive reflected on a tension between loose networks and formal structures in managing innovation.

    The African Consultants Network talked about the importance of innovation - including Idea Management - in the new economy.

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Innovation and Idea Management at PricewaterhouseCoopers

    In this video, PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Chairman Dennis Nally talks about the importance of innovation at PricewaterhouseCoopers and the recent introduction of their Idea Management System to manage their innovation processes.

    The key initiatives Nally announces in this video are:
    • the appointment of a Chief Innovation Officer, Sheldon Laube, giving overall responsibility for innovation initiatives to a specific individual
    • innovation is everyone's responsibility, across all of the firm's 30,000 employees
    • the PwC Idea management System iPlace to encourage innovation and cutting edge-thinking for PwC employees, clients, and other communities.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    What Type of Innovator Are You?

    Most of us interested in innovation are familiar with Everett Rogers' idea of the diffusion of innovations, in which ideas are not instantly adopted, but instead there are differing rates of adoption of an idea by different participants in a market or industry.

    But: have you asked - which type of adopter is your organization when it comes to innovations in your industry?

    The Diffusion of Innovations Model

    In Rogers' diffusion of innovations model there are 5 distinct groupings when it comes to adopting innovations, and a new innovation is adopted by each group at distinctly different stages.

    image from

    There are the innovators, the trailblazers out on the cutting edge, who find and implement new technologies at their inception and adapt and use these ideas in their raw, seminal form to stay ahead of the curve. There are the early adoptors, who recognise and adopt the new technology or innovations ahead of the mainstream, and adopt it early to gain a competitive advantage. There are the early majority, who recognise that a shift is happening in their industry, and adopt the change at around the same time as others do or slightly before. There are the late majority, who recognise that a shift has occurred in their industry, and make the changes required to adopt the new technology and stay in the mainstream. And then there are the laggards,  a group who are slow to recognise and adopt the new technology and its implications.

    In the graph above, the yellow line shows cumulative adoption of the new technology, while the blue curve shows the break down of each group of industry participants over time.

    Implications For Industry


    Clearly, the innovators as a group have a tremendous opportunity to seize the advantage over their competition in the market and

    • create points of differentiation from competition, 
    • create disruptive innovation that works to their advantage, 
    • create new revenue sources, and 
    • introduce new cost efficiencies. 

    However, these advantages comes with their own set of challenges. In the early stages, an innovation may be quite raw. There may be a lack of support and explanation around the innovation, and there may be considerable work to do in order to develop and mature the innovation into a viable commercial offering. Innovators need to be prepared to work at the cutting edge (or, indeed, the 'bleeding edge').

    Innovators need a distinct mindset, including an ability to sense trends and developments and assess which ones will be important to their industry, and rapid and effective decision making processes when it comes to responding to and adopting new innovations. Innovators display a willingness to continue to develop a concept or technology from a raw germinal form into a viable mature commercial offering, service, or business process. Innovators understand that they are managing a portfolio of innovations, some of which will pay off strongly and others which may ultimately not result in a strong business outcome or indeed may on occasions constitute a temporary setback. Innovators are comfortable exploring and evaluating risk and uncertainty, and making sensible investments in light of the best information available in order to gain the potential benefits.

    Early adopters

    Early adopters have an advantage over innovators in that they are now working with proven, mature innovations. There is less risk in adopting the innovation, and less work to do to develop the innovation into a viable commercial offering or useful business improvement.

    There are still significant opportunities to gain a competitive advantage over the majority of the industry (up to 97.5% of the industry, in Roger's model), and to gain many of the benefits listed above for the innovators. Early adopters will however have less chance to shape their industry, or to carve out 'blue oceans' of new opportunity where they dominate a market or industry.

    Early majority

    The early majority are moving with the mainstream, or slightly ahead of it. The early majority therefore are likely to either maintain their current competitive positioning in a market, or to slightly improve in relation to the majority of the industry. They miss the opportunity to reap the significant benefits available to the innovators and early adopters.

    As organizations in the early majority tend to have longer and more cautious decision making processes regarding their decision to invest in new innovations, they tend to ultimately make safe, sensible and responsible decisions when investing in new technology.

    Late majority

    Organizations in the late majority are, by definition, behind the mainstream in their adoption of new innovations. This puts them at a distinct disadvantage when responding to changes in a market, and in their attempts to create differentiation from their competition.

    The late majority are often skeptical of new innovations, are attached to existing advantages in the current industry structure (such as monopoly advantages or other vested interests or relationships) or are generally slow to adopt a new innovation until it has been proven and adopted by others. An organization seeking to adopt, for example, 'best practices' may for example be constantly moving towards standards and approaches that innovators, early adopters and the early majority previously adopted, and have since moved on from.

    Organizations in the late majority are potentially at a disadvantage relative to their competition during times of innovation and change, and are open to significant risks from disruptive innovations in their industry.


    Laggards are, by definition, behind at least 84% of their industry when it comes to change. Laggards are potentially at a significant disadvantage when it comes to times of innovation or change.

    Laggards and the late majority may lag behind the rest of the industry in adopting change for a number of reasons, including:

    • failure to monitor the market and recognise that change is occurring
    • vested interests such as a leading market position or monopoly advantages making change seem unattractive
    • commitment to outdated thinking patterns that lead to decisions that are not optimal in the current environment
    • decision making processes that are flawed and slow to adopt innovations until change is absolutely and manifestly necessary
    Which Diffusion of Innovation Category Does Your Organization Fit In?

    While it is likely to vary with different types of innovations, in general which diffusion of innovations group does your organization fit into?

    And which of the diffusion of innovation groups do you think your organization should be in?


    The greatest benefits clearly accrue to innovators, the first 2.5% of the market to adopt a new innovation. But to be an innovator requires a distinct mindset and a set of capabilities including

    • the ability to monitor trends - not just within the industry but also outside it - and identify new opportunities
    • the willingness to invest at an early stage in trialling new, unproven innovations and developing them into mature commercial offerings or business processes
    • a mindset that is comfortable with assessing risk and uncertainty and investing accordingly in a portfolio of investments
    • a disposition towards accepting that change is inevitable and that organizational thinking, the business that you are in and the products and services that you offer over time will always evolve
    • a decision making process that allows your organization to make rapid and sensible choices in relation to new opportunities and investments
    If your organization is not currently an innovator in your industry with regards to the diffusion of new innovations, it may be worth developing the capabilities and mindset to be the innovator and gain the advantages that accrue from this positioning.

    Early adopters

    Early adopters can gain many of the advantages of innovators, without some of the extra risks and work involved in recognising raw innovations and developing them in to a form that can be taken to market.

    And if early adopters can identify innovations from other industries and are the first to bring these innovations to their own industry, early adopters still maintain significant potential for creating disruptive innovation in their industry and recreating their industry in such a way as they maintain and defend a dominant position.

    Early majority

    If your organization is typically in the early majority, you are likely maintaining - and possibly improving -  your position relative to the majority of competitors in the market, but you are at significant risk from disruptive innovation from innovators and early adopters.

    Your organization's trend-monitoring and decision making processes are likely to be nimble enough to let you adapt in sufficient time to changes in your industry, but you may not gain real advantages from that change, it may only maintain the status quo or indeed you may slip back in the market positioning as innovators and organizations in the early majority take up greater market share.

    If you are in the early majority it may be worth investing the extra effort to shift in to the early adopter category and gain the benefits of improved positioning following times of innovation and change.

    Late majority and laggards

    If your organization is in the late majority or laggard category, it may be useful to analyse exactly why your organization is in this category.

    It may be that your greatest task is to update your capability for momitoring trends and developments and maintaining a useful foresight capacity in your industry.

    It may be that it might be useful to review your decision making processes and develop more proactive and rapid processes to make good decisions and investments during times of industry change.

    It may be that deeply engrained cultural values or patterns of thinking are holding your organization back from growth.

    Or it may be that current advantages you enjoy in the market place make it difficult to contemplate change, or certain types of change. If this is the case, then your organization may be at significant risk during times of disruptive innovation or other significant industry change, and it may be wirth analysing this context and developing contingency plans for facing innovation and change in your industry.

    The Takeaway:

    Change will happen. Innovations will be developed that significantly transform your industry.

    You can respond as an innovator, an early adopter, as part of the early majority, as part of the late majority or as a laggard.

    Unless there are structural reasons - such as monopoly positioning - that are retarding your ability to change, your organization should aim to be an innovator or early adopter, in order to gain the significant benefits that accrue from rapidly and effectively to innovations and changes in your industry.

    If your organization is a late adopter or laggard in response to innovation and change, you will benefit from understanding exactly why your organization is in this category - and acting accordingly.

    Which diffusion of innovations group is your organization currently in - and which group should it be in?

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Idea Management Systems Report - On Sale in September 2010!

    Around 3 years ago, I produced an Idea Management Systems Report, designed to assist indiviuals and organisations involved in the information-seeking and evaluation and selection phases of implementing an Idea Management System to:
    • Help investigate the range of offerings in the Idea Management software space and understand what alternatives and choices exist
    • Help build the business case for investing in an Idea Management System
    • Review a wide range of critical factors in the decision making process from business through to technology considerations
    This report has now been on the market for 3 years. I reviewed the report recently, and am pleased to be able to say that the vast majority of the content of the report, around 90% of the content, is still current and relevant, and that the predictions I made about the development of the Idea Management software space and alternative and competing technologies appear to have been consistent with the way the market has actually developed since I first wrote the report. 

    However, it is now time for a revision and update to the report, and to add some new material, so I am now starting work on the development of Version 2.0 of the Idea Management Systems Report.

    In the interim, while I'm working on version 2.0 of the report, I've decided to put the report on sale during the month of September 2010, and for everyone who purchases the current version of the report between now and when Version 2.0 is released, or has purchased the report previously, a copy of the Version 2.0 report will be included for free when it is released

    I've also decided to move the report to here on this site, so that it is easier to find.

    The report is available for purchase for both single-person use and for organization-wide use.

    If you have previously purchased Version 1.0 of the report and have any comments or feedback you can share to help me improve it for Version 2.0, or if you are interested in such a report and have any thoughts about content or topics that you would like covered in Version 2.0 of the Idea Management Systems Report Version 2.0, please contact me with those ideas so I can include this input while developing Version 2.0 of the report.