Idea management in one of my organisations

February 13, 2019

By Josefin Taubert

In my organization idea management is not as of today a harmonized process throughout the organization, so practices differ a lot between different units. In the unit I belong to ideas are mainly generated in discussions between researchers. At the moment, ideas that are not scientific are not regarded as valuable as ideas that are improving processes or products from a technical perspective.

The ideas are then formalized and pushed forward during ideation campaigns where everybody working in the department of innovation and R&D are encouraged to participate. At this stage the idea has already been subject to informal assessment over coffee with colleagues and the time from when the idea first emerges until it is rather long. Personally I see a value in shortening this time in my organization.

In theory everybody are allowed – and supposed – to work on new ideas as part of their job description. In reality, however, many employees feel that they do not have the time to focus on developing new ideas as they are simultaneously working on on-going projects. This also I see as a challenge to be addressed.

Assessment of ideas is done by our area leaders who are accountable for the activities within the area as a whole. Often, they take advice from senior colleagues or experts in the field in their evaluation. This is a very good practice apart from the obvious reason of getting more input. In our field it is common that similar ideas rotate every 55-10 years, and the more senior colleagues may have valuable input from previous outcomes testing similar ideas.

Similarly to many larger companies, we have a stage gate process in place. Still, the idea generation and the first exploration happen before the idea enters the process. In theory there is quite a bit of freedom to explore new ideas and do a first assessment. Still, this is not practiced as much as I personally would hope for.

I believe that the biggest challenges we face as humans is that we are exploiting the planet. Air pollution, soil depletion and global warming are the real challenges around us. Still within the next five years this will not become an evident problem. My fear is that we will realize the trouble we are in until it is far too late to do something about it. Nevertheless I am rather convinced that we will continue to stay ignorant about these real problems and that things as changing work markets will be regarded as pseudo problems.

One response to “Idea management in one of my organisations

  1. An interesting thing that emerges in your description is the ‘legitimisation’ of the ideas over coffee and other informal processes. It seems to act as a way to improve the confidence in the decision, rather than actively build on the idea. This is something that we will mention in Module 3 i believe.
    It feels also that you are describing a strong culture of this organisation which perhaps not take easily to a rapid change of the idea management process (if that would be the case to improve this process), but rather small and gradual changes that are understood and approved by the people involved.

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