I have a bunch of great ideas, now what? - Spring2 Innovation

I have a bunch of great ideas, now what?

December 13, 2011

There are many companies who have been able to recognize the importance of tapping into the minds of their employees, customers or partners on what they could improve, do next or stop doing. As crowd sourcing is getting more popular more companies are looking to get hooked into the vast knowledge of ideas. Some even have systems in place to let the crowd vote on the best ideas. So you implemented a crowd sourcing system, let the crowd select the ideas to pursue, and now….now what do you do?

It all depends.  You need to ask questions about where your company is and where it wants to go:

  • What kind of a company do you have – has it been innovative up till now?
  • What is your innovation vision?
  • Where does most of your revenue come from?
  • Do you want to bring in incremental or disruptive changes?
  • Do the ideas align with where you want to go as a company?
  • What other projects are in your pipeline?
  • Do you have resources available for the projects?
  • Will you be making any of the ideas a priority for your company?
  • Who makes up the crowd source? Is it your customers, partners and employees?

These don’t even take into consideration the insights that you have into the industry and where it is going. It is more difficult to successfully take ideas to market without identifying a need and whether there is a large enough market space for the idea. Starting with an area, market, and need can make the decision of what to do with the great ideas easier to implement.

The crowd, if drawing from your customers, is looking at ideas for now – not for what they will want 2 to 3 years down the line when the product or service is in market. Other issues with letting the crowd select the best ideas are that the people that come up with great ideas aren’t necessarily the best at articulating it or writing it down. There is also the fact that this system makes it harder for people to recognize similar ideas or to build on top of one another.  And that is what truly generates innovation – a number of ideas coming together. You also don’t necessarily have the support of a team that is part of the selection process supporting the ideas. Ideally you want to have at least a few folks that are part of the selection committee participate in the elaboration and implementation of the ideas.

The advantages of letting the crowd select, in some ways, means less work for you since a team did not have to go through the hundreds or thousands of ideas to try to figure out the best ones; although, it would be a good idea to go through the list. Who knows what was in there that wasn’t understood by those voting. It means you can set a deadline for voting to stop and the creators of the winning ideas are notified right away.

Overall, when crowd sourcing, spend time to compose the topic, subject, area or problem at hand. The better composed the easier it is to work with the end results. Once you have you ‘top X ‘list see which ideas really resonate with where you are going as an industry and as a business. You don’t have to implement all of the ideas. You don’t have to implement them all at once either. Create a portfolio and space out the development and implementation of projects. And continue looking at the ideas that weren’t selected. There could be gems in that mine.