What is Idea Management?

Idea management is new to many and I am often asked ‘what is idea management anyway?’ So I thought I would give my shot at it.

Some of my good friends run a very cool music magazine with about 20 very creative employees. So I was curious of how they go about capitalising on these bright people’s ideas. What my friend Martin told me was that, being a small team, anybody with a good idea just presents it to the CEO or one of the other managers. If they like it and it fits their strategy they go for it. If they need ideas for a special problem they run brainstorming sessions.

This ad hoc process works great for them, and why shouldn’t it? Good ideas are usually recognised right away and decisions are made fast.

Actually this is a common way to manage ideas in any organisation. But when you have 20,000 colleagues instead of 20 you also have a great deal more ideas, and a great deal more complexity in your organisation – and then it begins to make sense to manage ideas in a more structured way.

What is Idea Management?

You can think of idea management in the terms of a stage-gate model. First you scope, which means getting insight and figuring out what your challenges are. Then you get ideas to solve the challenge and select the best ones. You develop the ideas further, maybe even making a prototype. You test and validate and at last you launch by putting your idea on the market (if it’s a product), implementing it (if it’s a process) and so on. As illustrated above, idea management represents the stage where you get ideas and the gate where ideas are selected.

In real life this can be a lot more complex. For example at Nosco we usually see that selecting ideas involves a whole set of (sub-)stages and gates to mature and select/reject ideas before they can become actual projects and go through the rest of the stage-gate.

To make a long story short, I believe idea management is about structuring how to collect ideas from people around your organisation and select the best. This usually involves having:

  • a way for people to submit ideas
  • a process for selecting the best ideas
  • budgets and resources
  • someone responsible for it all.

Idea management can be done in many ways. At Nosco we are big believers in using ideas campaigns. Idea campaigns let you structure collecting and selecting ideas in a simple way. The next article will be about idea campaigns – so stay tuned. Read about why you should love idea campaigns here.

i·de·a

noun

1) a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action:
— a mental impression
— an opinion or belief.

2) (the idea) the aim or purpose:

3) Philosophy (in Platonic thought) an eternally existing pattern of which individual things in any class are imperfect copies;
(in Kantian thought) a concept of pure reason, not empirically based in experience.

man·age·ment

noun

1) the process of dealing with or controlling things or people

2) [treated as singular or plural] the people managing a company or organization

3) Medicine & Psychiatry the treatment or control of diseases or disorders, or the care of patients who suffer them

4) archaic trickery; deceit.

Resources

Stage gate
Soundvenue
Oxford Dictionaries

Oliver BernhardOliver is a partner in Nosco
Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/oliverbernhard

15 Comments

  1. August 12, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    The link at Wikipedia changed. Maybe you would like ti edit that.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phase_gate_model

  2. Oliver
    August 13, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Thanks Carolina – I have updated the link.

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    [...] Bernhard Check this blog post I wrote a while ago exactly about what idea management is: http://www.cometoknow.com/what-i…This answer .Please specify the necessary improvements. Edit Link Text Show answer summary [...]

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  6. [...] Work with idea management usually takes place in the stage-gate model shown below, which consists of five stages: scope, get ideas, develop, test, launch. [...]

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