When you need to brainstorm ideas among a group or population of people spread over significant distances, you face several challenges
- How to communicate to participants and how to enable participants to communicate with each other.
- How to capture ideas.
- How to enable the collaborative development of ideas as you get when brainstormers are in the same room.
- How to evaluate ideas, particularly when a large group of people has participated and generated a large number of ideas. Imagine having to review 100 + ideas!
In fact, when this process is carried out on-line and over a period of one or more weeks, a better term is an “ideas campaign”. An ideas campaign has several steps modelled on creative problem solving (CPS) which is also the basic process behind traditional brainstomring.
IDEAS CAMPAIGN STEPS
- An ideas campaign starts with an innovation challenge, such as “What market opportunities might we exploit in China?”, “How might we improve the efficiency of our manufacturing process?” or “What new features might we add to product X in order to make it more appealing to young women?”.
- This is followed by a collaborative idea generation phase. Unlike in a short term brainstorming event, however, an ideas campaign is literally a campaign that lasts for one or more weeks and encourages participants to submit written ideas as well as collaborate on ideas submitted by others. Ideally, participants can include documents and links with their ideas.
- because an effective ideas campaign can generate dozens or even hundreds of ideas, it should include a structured evaluation process that makes it easy to combine ideas and submit them to peer review evaluation.
- Finally, the best ideas should be implemented! This marks the transition from the generation of creative ideas to innovation through the implementation of those ideas.
An ideas campaign can be developed and managed ad hoc via e-mail or simple on-line tools. And many companies have used such an approach somewhat effectively. However, collaboration and efficient evaluation of ideas is difficult without a purpose built tool. Also, if an organisation wishes to build an on-going innovation process based on ideas campaigns, those in charge will soon become overwhelmed with data.
As a result, more and more companies are turning towards idea management software that facilitates the running of multiple ideas campaigns and sequential ideas campaigns; provides automated tools and more. Good idea management software can foster very high levels of collaboration, provide efficient evaluation and review mechanisms and even provide some social networking tools to enable other kinds of collaboration between participants.
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