Recap: What is Idea Management?

Even if the term idea management sounds familiar at first glance, it has some pitfalls in practice.

Definition: Idea management is the sum of all activities, rules and decisions that companies perform when managing any types ideas (both innovations and process improvements).

Idea management includes both innovation ideas as well as process improvement ideas. Modern idea management approaches manage these and other types of ideas in an integrated idea management process.

Types of Ideas in the Idea Management Process

In practice, there are four types of idea types most frequently found in idea management processes.

  • Incremental innovations: Focused on improving existing products and services. Such ideas usually come from the customers.
  • Radical innovations: Large projects, such as entering a market that is new to the company, are radical innovations – from the company’s point of view. There are also disruptive innovations which create entirely new markets or destroy existing business models. These are not included in this analysis.
  • Process improvements: In contrast to innovations, process improvement deal with improving the internal performance, business processes of the company.
  • Lean or Kaizen ideas: As a prominent special case of internal improvement ideas, Lean or Kaizen ideas specifically address manufacturing-related process improvements.

To create a suitable idea management process for your ideas, we first need to understand the basic modes and building blocks of idea management processes.

Um einen passenden Ideenmanagementprozess für seine Ideen zu erstellen, gilt es zunächst die Grundmodelle und Bausteine von Ideenmanagementprozessen zu verstehen.

Basic modes of Idea Management Processes

Successful idea management processes are processes that in active used and are backed by relevant stakeholders.  It is therefore crucial to choose a basic mode that fits ones corporate culture.

Mode 1: Centralized Idea Management Process

  • Process model: In this type of process, each idea is first submitted to a central idea management team, where the decision is made on how to proceed with the idea.
  • Suitable for: Companies in which the idea team is particularly well-connected and has sufficient methodological and coaching competences, as well as sufficient manpower.

Mode 2: Decentralized Idea Management Process

  • Process model: Each submission is first forwarded to the submitter’s line manager who decides on how the idea should proceed.
  • Suitable for: Companies where the middle management is committed to the idea process and they have a high motivation to quickly process & implement ideas.

In practice, there are also so-called mixed models in which both the manager and a central idea team are involved in various stages of the idea management process.

Components of Idea Management Processes

While the modes described above are often associated with cultural aspects of the company, the actual building blocks of idea management processes are focused on the steps that need to be completed to work through an idea. We shall use generic idea management process to describe the six building blocks of idea processes:

1. Process name

Idea management may be practices in many different offices and factory locations and with different types of ideas. To avoid misunderstandings each idea process should be identified by a name.

2. Process steps

The next step is to consider which activities will be needed in order for the idea management process to achieve the business goals of the department, the production site etc. These activities are divided into meaningful work packages, which represent the steps of the idea process.

3. Forms

Certain information must be recorded in each process step. Such as expert opinions, benefit calculations, files, forecasts, comments etc. To record such data structured forms have to be defined and deployed.

4. Process transitions

In order to relieve all participants of as much work as possible, an idea management process should automatically switch from one process step to the next. However, agile processes would also provide room for flexibility if certain ideas require special treatment.

5. Notifications

In order to get the active roles going they must be notified about the tasks which the idea management process has (automatically) assigned to them. Hence notifications must be defined, each with its own content, recipients, reminder rules, and custom mail merge fields.

6. Roles

For each process step, at least one role must be assigned, which will be responsible for the execution of that step.

Launching an Idea Management Process

  • Collaborative process design: Discuss the building blocks of the idea management process with stakeholders in several workshops. The output of this will not only by a well-founded idea management process, but also the commitment of the stakeholders to support this process.

  • Soft Launch: Soft launch without a big announcement in order to be able to receive a few ideas and try-out your process. Improve the process if necessary.
  • Go-Live: After the successful soft launch phase, you should launch bigger communications about the new process to all stakeholders involved. Make time to answer questions in the first few weeks.

Pro Tip: Avoid Micro Management: Don’t try to manage every detail yourself. Instead utilize smart Idea Management Software that will take care of the whole process in a fully automated way and will guide every role through their tasks.

Use State-of-the-Art Idea Management Processes from CrowdWorx

CrowdWorx offers built-in best-practice idea management processes that automate the entire idea process.

  • Agile processes: CrowdWorx software supports agile and flexible workflows with room for flexibility if certain ideas require special treatment.
  • Easy-to-use: Dynamic forms show users only those fields which are currently relevant to them, build in guides answer users’ questions when they arise.
  • Automation: Process transitions, role assignments, task distribution and monitoring deadlines can be fully automated, thus relieving idea managers from such work.
  • Integrated platform: Operate several different idea management processes, whether for different idea types or for different locations, business units or countries. With CrowdWorx all processes can be operated in one integrated platform.

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