Ideation has recently become very popular. Many companies are looking to ideation as a tangible starting point for implementing an open innovation strategy. I continue to be involved in ideation projects. Indeed, I have now become very familiar with the WebStorm product from BrightIdea Inc, and like it a lot.
But is ideation worthwhile? Does it deliver value? It certainly appears to on the surface. However, in my experience, it all comes down to a robust strategy – not just for idea collection – but a strategy that determines how ideas will be handled, evaluated and funded in the back-end.
The road to success must include:
- CEO sponsorship of the ideation process – the launch email should come from the CEO (or someone very high up in the organisation)
- Strong governance – Innovation Board ideally
- Well defined back end structure – not just a few ppt slides, but every aspect thought through
- Dedicated funding put aside in the budget for those ideas that look to show promise
- A structure to enable business-case development for promising ideas – this is an excellent HR opportunity for high-potential team members
- Constant reporting back to idea generators as to progress
- The definition of categories for the ideas as they are posted
- Ensuring that the evaluation of the ideas is not centrally focused, but spread around to people who have no baggage in properly evaluating the idea
- The ability to distinguish between disruptive and incremental ideas, and deciding on how each type will be managed – end to end
You might like to read an interesting paper by Cesar Castro who worked at Innocentive as VP of Business Development. It sheds some light on this interesting Innovation practice.