Idea refinement

May 29, 2019

By Josefin Taubert

In our organization we have in the last two years been working with ideation campaigns with a very similar outline as the exercise we have done here during the course. First ideas are submitted, then there is some time for idea refinement, commenting and voting within the campaign and finally there is an evaluation of the ideas.

My experience is that the idea refinement part is one of the more challenging parts to get going within the organization. Part of this I think is bound in a misconception that if you refine somebody’s idea it would mean that the idea was poor from the beginning. Somehow at least in our organization we are challenged with this thought that things should be perfect already during the first go. And this is not only in one direction, that people do not dare refining other’s ideas from fear of being perceived as criticizing them. It also goes in the other direction, that is we are challenged by employees taking suggestions of improvement as criticism towards their original idea.

To change this attitude a cultural change within the organization is needed. How to bring this cultural change about is a million-dollar question, it is not easy to change things that are rooted in the organization.

One thing that has helped during the refinement process in our organization is to de-attach the idea submitter from the idea, then the idea is not personalized and people speak more freely around the idea without considering “who’s” the idea is.

On a private level I find that one of the best ways of refining ideas is to discuss them with friends over coffee in an informal environment. Then I can collect fantastic input that I then later can attach to the idea. I also find one useful technique to use is to frame the idea differently when presenting it to others, so for instance if it is in a work environment, I frame it as being in my voluntary organisation. That way I get a lot of new input that can be used to refine the original idea.

One response to “Idea refinement

  1. A good point!
    Some people say that ideas are children, that some people do not like when other people critize them. However, bright ideas might not be perfect from the beginning since most people are not perfect and do not have all perspectives.

    One way of changing that attitude might be done during teambuilding, that you do exercises that reveal that the group decision is more thought through than each individual answer.

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