When our clients begin looking for innovation management software, they’re often also looking for a way they can get good ideas for their business and, more often than not, they want guidance not only in providing a system for their company’s innovation efforts, but also help getting started.
On the subject of where good ideas come from, Steven Johnson, author of several best-selling books on innovation and culture, has a lot of things to say in his classic video:
But the main point of Johnson’s video and the answer to the question is: “Chance favors the connected mind.” This means that quite often the answer to the question our clients are looking for exists in the form of the platform we’re providing, and there’s three big reasons for it that Johnson touches on in his video:
Encouraging constructive criticism. One simple Google search on giving feedback demonstrates that a lot of people don’t know how or when to give it, but want to do it effectively and productively. Office environments, hierarchies, and job security can combine to form an environment where employees are practically encouraged not to give any feedback to their peers or higher-ups. But the video makes it abundantly clear that ideas can’t just be conceived and pitched miraculously, they have to be worked on. So providing your employees with a space where this can happen freely is a huge step in the right direction. At the very least, it lets them know that their opinions are wanted.
Promoting a sense of community. When employees’ perspectives and ideas are valued, it increases the sense that their place in the community matters. Among the many things Entrepreneur Magazine suggests to increase company morale, a lot of them can be addressed with a focus on innovation. Encouraging employees to feel their work is important, celebrating accomplishments, and changing the way companies do things affects the overall feeling of employees. After all, part of what made those early idea incubators Johnson discusses successful was that the people attending them felt like they were doing something worthwhile.
Capturing what’s not apparent. As Johnson says, ideas often begin with a slow hunch or a piece of an idea. They need time to incubate, but chances are, a lot of your employees already have ideas incubating, you just don’t see them yet. While some may get discouraged with the suggestion that innovating and developing ideas takes time, the important thing to remember is that without an innovation management system, you don’t yet see what isn’t right in front of your eyes. A system for ideas can make you see all of the incubating ideas and encourage them to grow.
While there’s a lot of theories and approaches on how you can come up with great ideas, what Johnson demonstrates is that the best ideas come from communities getting together to support them and we’re hoping more and more communities will make the choice to invest in a system to make that possible. Maybe one day we’ll be asking which came first, the idea or the idea management system?
image credit: Steven Johnson
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Simon Hill is CEO and co-founder of Wazoku, an idea software company; an Associate Director with the Venture Capital Firm FindInvestGrow; and an active member of the London technology and entrepreneurial community. Follow at @wazokuhq