Based on recent work I have done for a client on evaluating and selecting an ideas management system (see blog posts: Idea Management – Evaluation I and Idea Management – Evaluation II), I am now more convinced of this point than ever. Note that in most cases, the systems and vendors I evaluated had an emphasis on social elements as a core part of their offering. So I thought I’d capture 10 reasons why I think ideas are a great starting point for social business / enterprise 2.0 initiatives.
- People get inspired by ideas and they provide a great outlet for creativity. So ideas are a good “fire-starter” for social business initiatives, perhaps the best, and will greatly aid user adoption and engagement
- All great new business initiatives have to start somewhere and a formal method for capturing the starting point (ideas) is crucial. In conjunction, social business initiatives often suffer from a lack of focus and ideas and innovation provide an excellent focus point
- Ideas are a supreme example of social objects, objects around which people can coalesce, collaborate and build community at work
- Ideas that are captured digitally (and I’m not taking about an electronic suggestion box via email :) can easily be shared, voted on, collaborated on in teams and tracked in terms of their progress – so they are very flexible
- Ideas can easily be tracked in terms of their contribution to the bottom line – if successful they will lead to the creation of products/services or improvements that can be assigned a financial value
- Ideas and ideation are a crucial part of the innovation pipeline – I’ve covered this in a previous post: Social Business Innovation
- Ideas can be captured and whilst at the time of capturing may not have any value, they may on subsequent discovery when evaluated against a different time, market or need context. Great ideas are useless if they are forgotten to time
- While in themselves ideas are worthless (good ideas are a dime a dozen, and even that price is too high), with contribution from others and moulding they can be made to have value and through implementation ultimately, they deliver value. Social idea management platforms that incorporate elements of evaluation and implementation are crucial in this
- Ideas can be created by the individual but often need teams to implement and that is why either alone to begin with but ultimately through team work and over time, social software that supports ideation is a good idea :) A lot of the key tenets espoused by Steven Johnson in his “Where do good ideas come from” video support this, especially the slow hunch hypothesis
- Ideas generated and captured digitally can be filtered, matched with complimentary ideas and good ideas can naturally bubble up to the surface. They can also be subject to incentives and reward, gamification and other methods that encourage participation and adoption (on which, see latest Gallup Study: Engaged Employees Inspire Company Innovation)
This list is a kind of brainstorm and dump of my ideas appropriately enough and so they are not highly finished, there may be overlap between them as much as I tried to make each distinct and I’d love to evolve them with your input – please let me have your views in a comment.
UPDATE 21/08/2011: Based on a conversation about this post over over in the Innovation Excellence Group on LinkedIn (closed Group) and some excellent additional feedback from some members there, I wanted to note several key points:
- The context for my points above is corporate innovation, mostly in large companies but may apply equally to smaller companies. They do not apply so much to ideas and innovation as they are managed and diffused by an individual/s (e.g. in a lab or startup) or within broader society but rather within an organisation.
- Excellent points were made about diffusion of innovation in broader society (the reason I made the last point) which I think do apply equally within a corporate context and this is that (a) idea cultivation is essentially social and that (b) memes are an important aspect of socialisation. Points that I think require separate discussion in their own right which I may cover in a separate post.