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Do you really need more ideas?

When I was building an innovation effort, I frequently heard comments from management like "We need more ideas!" or it's uglier version "We need better ideas!"

In my naiveté I exclaimed"We'll build a process to capture ideas!"

What I found was that lack of ideas... or lack of good ideas... was NOT the problem. Employees and clients had ideas and wanted to share them. Many of them were good. Some of them could have been transformational.

And very few advanced through the funnel and were instituted.

The bigger challenges were:

  • Soliciting and selecting the right ideas

  • Building sponsorship and resources to execute the right ideas

  • Building a culture that supports "different than current"

  • Engaging leadership across the effort

These are big, complex issues. But the lesson is:

If you don't have the culture, leadership, and structure in place, it's difficult to develop and commercialize innovative offerings.

Today there are great tools available to collect and evaluate ideas. But the tool is only as effective as the organization that wields it.

So if you're asked or tasked with finding more/better ideas... first ask yourself if that's really the issue. If it's not (or you aren't sure) find a mentor that can help you come up with a plan and a way to communicate your recommendations back to your organization.

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