Idea Management: How To Get Your Staff Thinking BIG

Many business innovations are sparked by a fantastic idea from an employee. After all, staff suggestion boxes, designed to encourage idea-sharing, have been around for decades. Nowadays, however, technology has made it easier for staff to get their creative minds buzzing and ideas heard. 24/7 access to idea management tools has meant those moments of brilliance can be captured whenever, wherever.

Encouraging and sharing ideas throughout the organization should be a critical part of your company’s knowledge management. They can have a greater impact on profitability and productivity as well as employee engagement.

In this post, we share some insights on how intranet software can make idea management a whole lot easier – and the tools within to ensure good ideas rise up.

What Is Idea Management?

Idea management is a systematic approach to generating, capturing, developing, and implementing the best and brightest ideas across the business.

It’s more than just brainstorming ideas and inviting staff to contribute suggestions. Idea management is all about promoting a culture of innovation.

3M famously encourages its staff to spend 15 percent of their working day to explore new ideas.

Idea management involves finding ways to harness the collective creativity of your workforce. It’s about giving staff permission to think freely. And it’s about leveraging crowdsourcing to improve operations, deliver solutions and enhance your company’s agility and competitiveness.

Benefits Of Idea Management

Capture The Best Ideas

Idea management helps you to capture the best ideas from all corners of the business. A combination of culture and tools means employees will willingly record their great ideas as they occur. That could be on the commute to work, a chance meeting with a customer or supplier, or an informal chat with colleagues during the morning break.

brainstorm ideasWithout the systematic approach of idea management, those eureka moments could be lost. Plus, an idea management platform supports idea sharing and collaboration for more robust solutions.

Idea management also allows you to direct creative efforts in specific areas. Traditional employee suggestion schemes lack focus for ideation. Preferably, you want a process where you can guide employees’ creative energies towards specific organizational goals.

Capitalize On The Best Ideas Faster

Using idea management software – such as an intranet – you can evaluate and implement ideas faster. A structured evaluation process ensures the best candidates for implementation are scored, flagged and given priority assessment. You can take those breakthrough ideas to the next stage, and reap the rewards all the sooner.

Provide Greater Transparency

One of the main gripes from employees about suggestion schemes is that management fails to feedback on the outcome. Often an employee submitting an idea never hears what becomes of it. Cynicism and a feeling of ‘why bother?’ are often the by-products.

Idea management introduces much-needed transparency. Employees maintain oversight of their idea, which increases their enthusiasm and willingness to contribute. Moreover, other employees can see what’s been suggested and which ideas have progressed to implementation. They can offer insights and collaborate to enhance the proposal. The upshot is a more empowered and engaged workforce and increased opportunities for collaboration.

Maintain Your Competitive Advantage

In today’s highly competitive marketplace, it’s critical to leverage every possible advantage. Idea management provides a formal mechanism for doing just that. Not only will it encourage more diverse ideation, but it will also enhance productivity and profitability. This, in turn, increases your agility and ability to respond to changing environments. Getting your innovations out to market as quickly as possible will build your competitive advantage.

Support Knowledge Management

Idea management software supports organizational knowledge management. If your business has multiple offices over large geographic areas, then it’s a simple, cost-effective way to share knowledge. It helps to bring staff together regardless of the physical distance or any organizational barriers.

And when it comes to a technological idea management solution, an intranet has much to offer. Here we examine four ways an intranet can simplify idea management in your business.

How An Intranet Can Simplify Idea Management: 4 Ways

1. Capturing Ideas On The Fly

Perhaps the biggest challenge for an idea management solution is finding ways to capture all those great ideas on the fly.

The modern intranet can help. Embeddable online forms make it simple for staff to record ideas as they go about their daily work. Available as a quick link on the intranet’s home page, the automated form is at their fingertips. And it takes just seconds to complete.

Furthermore, the automated form is fully customizable. Use it to encourage staff to submit ideas that are directly relevant to business goals. It could be product development, process improvements, maximizing efficiencies, cost savings, or whatever is appropriate for your business. Many companies find that the quality of ideas improves when employees are asked to address real business problems. It’s vital, therefore, to set some specific objectives for employees putting forward ideas. And the intranet’s online form is the perfect vehicle to do so.

Publishing the evaluation criteria on the intranet makes it clear to staff how the idea will be assessed. A numeric evaluation system – say with a score out of ten – works best and is more likely to be applied consistently and fairly. Workflow processes set up in the intranet ensure all ideas are reviewed promptly.staff-survey

Another way to encourage ideation is through the intranet’s surveys and quizzes feature. Use these tools to poll your staff on a variety of issues or to promote feedback and insights. Invite staff to consider an organizational or team pain point and propose possible solutions. Surveys and quizzes can be set up on a team or a company-wide basis, depending on the issue at hand.

Furthermore, create dedicated folders in the intranet’s content management system so ideas can be uploaded directly. It’s a more systematic way of organizing the proposals, and it provides greater transparency.

Automated processes for capturing ideas are also more inclusive. In fact, it’s a game-changer for staff that may be introverted or lack confidence when it comes to speaking up. Everyone has access to the intranet. Therefore, all employees can feel empowered to contribute their ideas, knowing they will be carefully considered.

2. Promoting Idea Sharing And Collaboration

Now that you have a collection of fantastic ideas, the next step in idea management is to encourage sharing and collaborating. Colleagues in other teams and offices will have valuable insights to make. A peer-review process is essential to shape the raw germ of an idea into a rounded, compelling solution.

The intranet’s collaborative forums are the perfect vehicle for idea sharing and collaboration. Participants can debate ideas, share insights, and collaborate to improve the proposal and build a comprehensive solution.

Another intranet-based tool for capturing and collaborating on ideas is team chat or instant messaging. The real-time, instant nature of team chat makes it a preferred tool for many. You can set up #channels in the team chat, such as #brightspark, #ideasworthspreading, or #ideas2inspire. Alternatively, you could use a campaign approach more closely aligned to business objectives such as cost efficiencies or new product lines.

Most staff are familiar with #channels from their social media platforms. Engaging and accessible, use these channels as a way of getting immediate feedback on ideas. The crazy and impractical ones can be quickly eliminated. More promising ones can be debated and developed further in an ongoing conversation.

Involving workers in idea management is empowering and will contribute to improved employee engagement. It sends a valuable message of just how much you value employees’ input and contributions. And it will lead to improved outcomes as ideas are refined and developed.

3. Implementing The Best Ideas

The intranet also has a role to play in progressing those ideas that have passed the evaluation stage. Once a good idea and has been earmarked for development, set up a cross-departmental closed project workspace on the intranet.

Use the intranet’s online staff directory to identify project team members. The directory’s employee profiles showcase internal subject expertise and areas of knowledge. It’s a straightforward task, therefore, to pull together a team from across the business.

Intranet Staff Directory And because the intranet is cloud-hosted, the team can collaborate effectively online regardless of physical location – perfect for the growing number of remote workers. Those working from home or in non-desk roles can share their expertise and knowledge alongside office-based personnel.

So, for example, a project team is charged with reviewing the company’s customer experience. A dedicated project space on the intranet means the team can get together online. Members exchange ideas virtually, brainstorm possibilities, and begin working on concepts. A series of rules automatically restricts access to the project space to the relevant staff only.

Why not supplement this work by canvassing all staff for their insights in an intranet-based survey? And consider adding a #customerexperience channel to the team chat to open up a broader discussion.

Following an evaluation, the best ideas can then proceed to the development stage. The project team can meet virtually to test and develop proposals against business objectives and the core requirements. The best of the best then move on to piloting and eventually implementation. And the team manages and controls the entire process through the project space.

This example makes clear the advantage the one-stop intranet has over other idea management platforms.

4. Keeping Staff Informed Of The Outcome

This final stage is perhaps the most important one. Staff need to know how their idea has been received and whether it will move forward.

A successful idea management solution incorporates feedback mechanisms at every stage, so staff are kept informed. And the employee must understand the time frame involved. Often the process of review and evaluation, let alone development and implementation, can take much longer than the worker anticipates. Being upfront from the outset deals with the possibility of disappointment or frustration setting in.

Use the same avenues you did to collect and develop ideas and feedback to staff. Don’t forget to include all staff that have contributed – not just the employee who submitted the original idea. The instant messaging #channels and the project workspaces will get the message out there quickly. And it will automatically go to all personnel who have contributed, commented, or shared an insight.

Finally, in a culture of innovation, collaboration, and idea-sharing, reporting back to the workforce generally is essential. Use the intranet’s newsfeed and blogs to showcase the best ideas and how they have been implemented. CEO vlogs are another powerful vehicle for promoting successful projects that have made a real difference.

Allow for comments and sharing of news items and blog posts, and you will also be developing an ongoing dialogue with staff. It’s a win-win that sees you reporting back and opening two-way conversations at the same time.

Software Tools For Easier Idea Management: All-In-One Intranet 

The bottom line is that an intranet makes idea management a whole lot easier. Available in one platform and with a single sign-on, you will also be enjoying all the other great tools and features an intranet has to offer.

MyHub’s cloud-based CMS intranet is used by hundreds of businesses worldwide. It’s simple to set up, easy to manage, fully customizable, and you don’t need to be a techie to get started.  Take a tour around the platform with a free demo. Better still, sign up for a 14-day trial and explore the intranet’s versatility and flexibility firsthand.

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