A lot of the clients we work with who demonstrate an interest in idea software are looking for an idea generator. This is the biggest obstacle we face in trying to coach clients. We realise there’s a great need for a platform for ideas within their company and we can see that they’re eager to find and implement those ideas, which is great, but we do our best to caution our clients away from expecting their idea software solution to act as a sort of idea generator. Sure, the software will give you a platform for accepting ideas, but it’s not a magic hat for pulling out ideas.
New Knowledge wrote an article recapping a six year long study on disruptive innovation involving 3,500 executives which found five different skills that form what they call the Innovator’s DNA. These skills encapsulate the advice we often give to our clients and we’d like to summarise how you can apply these skills to your idea software.
Associating – Making connections that are first unseen or at least being resourceful with all of your knowledge can help you find that idea that’s hidden. One of the reasons we have so many options in our solution for interaction – from discussions on individual ideas to communities – is that we know that interactions can spawn ideas. Associating on your own can sometimes be difficult, which is why having a team helps you make connections you might miss on your own.
Observing – Finding the problem is often a springboard for getting an idea that will be it’s solution, and you can’t find problems without observation. The benefit of having a platform of ideas available to your organisation 24/7 on several different devices is that it gives them a reminder to remain open for ideas and gives them a way to pitch those ideas even outside of the office. Not to mention, they work on the ideas over time instead of just in meetings.
Experimenting – Being willing to try different solutions and different approaches can often lead you to the right idea. What a platform for ideas creates is the opportunity to experiment with those ideas. It can often take courage to bring an idea up within a company meeting and quite often individuals may feel like they must do their own experimentation before bringing up the idea. But within a platform, they can have experimentation with their idea without the fear of judgement.
Questioning – The unfortunate side effect of working out ideas alone or between two people is that you limit the amount of perspectives and thus questions that can be pitched towards the idea. It stagnate’s it’s development, just as taking a no-questioning attitude could stagnate your development as an innovator. You want an idea software solution that provides you the opportunity to not just have ideas pitched, but also question them through, for example what we provide, discussion and voting.
Networking – It’s not just about finding people who would agree with you. It’s also about finding people who can challenge you in the appropriate times. The benefit to opening your idea development to your whole staff in one big community is that it provides the opportunity that good networking weeds out. With everyone able to contribute to the conversation, finding ideas and analysing them becomes a regular occurrence.
There’s no such thing as a magic idea generator, but there are ways you can encourage ideas to come up to the surface from your network. Having a platform for those ideas is just the first step. Developing those ideas and ensuring the optimal culture for them is part of the overall process.
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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.