Where Do Ideas Come From?
By Taylor Viering, M.A.
While management often has lofty ideas, it is the employees who are on the front lines, running day to day operations who have more ideas that create innovation and break-throughs. Their ideas have transformed many businesses (Post-it notes were developed by 3M employees – not management). Yet, most businesses leave the innovating to upper level managers – and ignore the value of exploring the great ideas in employees’ minds. As a result, many innovative ideas go undiscovered.
Fortunately, there is a solution: idea management. Idea Management is a structured process for capturing ideas from across the work force and evaluating those ideas in order to determine which have the greatest potential.
At CLI, we often start groups with an explanation of where good ideas come from, and then introduce the concept of structured idea management and then ask them to participate in an idea management process. We suggest the following steps for structured idea management:
1. Name an issue, challenge or problem to solve or tackle.
2. Give participants a stack of 5-20 notecards.
3. Ask participants to list one idea per card for solving the problem or tapping into an opportunity. Allow 5-10 minutes for participants to record their ideas.
4. At the end of the allotted time, pair participants up to merge cards–eliminating the less desirable ideas. Set a limit on no more than 10 idea cards total.
5. Then have the pair join another pair to merge ideas, and so on until the entire group is huddled around a final choice of their favorite ideas-between 5-10 top contenders.
6. Rank the best ideas: Ask the group to place checkmarks next to their top 3 favorite idea cards.
Take a look at the remaining ideas, and se the number of checkmarks to rank the order of importance for the idea cards.
Helping groups discover where good ideas come from is important and is a very important exercise for increasing innovation, creativity and ownership.
CLI provides coaching, training, and strategic planning services to help your business grow. Contact us for more information on using Idea Management within your organization.
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