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How to Capture the Very Best Ideas? Run a Campaign

Tim Woods, in his article, talks about the recent report in which most companies have no effective means of collecting and processing ideas. In a recent Booz & Company study, he says,  it was reported that only 40% of the 1,000 most innovative companies have a structured idea management program in place (The Global Innovation 1000: Navigating the Digital Future). A surprising fact given the importance of idea generation in the innovation process. This means that 60% of the biggest and best companies in the world are still using archaic methods to collect, organize, and manage ideas. Whether it be offline in face-to-face brainstorming sessions, using email, excel spreadsheets, open suggestion boxes – or ultimately, no idea gathering at all.

Tim continues that many companies still try to launch an idea program in the old fashion way – like a suggestion box: ideas of any kind are dropped in from across the business without a clear problem statement defined. A good marketing splash can make this work for a short time, but it’s not sustainable.

Campaigns allow you to focus on the areas of the business that you want to innovate in right now. By defining a clear topic, you improve idea quality, which in return increases the probability that they actually get implemented. Showing an innovation pipeline with ideas moving through to implementation builds trust and momentum with the audience. Campaigns by definition have a given time frame, and sometimes target a specific audience – both of these help to focus the right amount of corporate energy on the best possible outcomes.

With a campaign approach you can begin to think strategically about your efforts. Define the hunting grounds where you want to find ideas, then map out a series of campaigns to tackle those areas.

The most successful companies have a balanced approach to running big strategic challenges, interspersed with tactical ones. Tactical ones, such as cost saving or process improvements, can generate ideas which can be implemented quickly and allow innovation managers to show results. This is both advantageous to innovation managers and sponsors, but also critical for momentum within the audience. Strategic campaigns have a longer timeframe, and often the ideas must be combined and taken through a concepting phase before real opportunity can be identified. If there is a clear roadmap of activity in both areas, the program is more likely to grow in adoption and becomes sustainable as a process.

Our view aligns with Tim’s one hundred percent. We advocate campaign based ideation for another reason: if there is a campaign on a strategic commercial project, then there is usually a funder. And if there is a funder then there is a strong likelihood that the project will get off the ground rather than languishing in incubation.

In summary: ideation platforms are not suggestion boxes. The best way to capture and manage disruptive ideas is via campaigns, 3-4 weeks in length, with a funder in tow saying “if there is a great idea for this campaign, I will fund it!”

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