By Dr. Evans Baiya
It has been said, the best way to find your way around a new location quickly is to ask for ideas. As many of us are working from “new locations,” ideas are more important than ever. What is the best way to manage those ideas? How do you continue to engage your employees so they give you the best ideas?
Ideas are critical for survival, especially during crisis. The goal is to survive smartly and position yourself for growth. One of the most important actions a company can take during times like this is to ask for ideas from all stakeholders, in order to make timely and impactful decisions.
How do you take advantage of idea generation in a remote environment? When people are thrown out of their normal routines, working remotely, and encountering business challenges, they typically come up with more ideas than usual. You need a way to tap into this resource.
Crisis represents a great opportunity for leaders to maximize their stakeholders’ ideation abilities. Yet many leaders do an insufficient job of asking for ideas during a crisis. Those who tap into their organization’s idea factories—a system that allows for the constant generation of ideas—do better surviving crisis than those who do not.
Are you losing ideas?
I hear from frustrated leaders all the time, who tell me that they and their teams seem to come up with plenty of ideas during meetings and discussions, but they seem to lose most of them. You can’t take advantage of ideas if you don’t have them.
One of the main challenges of idea management is meaningfully capturing ideas. It sounds strange, but to test the theory, where are the ideas you generated from your last Zoom or teleconference?
We lose ideas in a variety of places, but even more so when working remotely. They are lost in digital meetings, post-it notes, emails, chatrooms, chatboxes, personal notebooks, online surveys, SMS messages, social media, web forums, musings and more.
So where are your team’s lost ideas? Here are three proven ways to collect and manage ideas:
Create an idea bank. Ideas are like money. You need to know where and how much you have at all times. You must allow your employees to access the bank, to deposit or to remove ideas. It must be easy for them to not only give you ideas, but also to see how their ideas are used.
Share intentionally. When you share ideas, use a system so you can track them and follow up. Make sure everyone is familiar with the system and can use it to share their thoughts, both individually and corporately. The more the avenues for sharing ideas, the higher the likelihood that they become lost, so sticking to a single method is best.
Encourage follow up. Most people do not ask for or receive follow up on their ideas. They give an idea to a leader, but never know how the idea was put to use, if at all. How did the idea get improved? How did it inspire other ideas? Or why wasn’t it chosen? Without this feedback, you lose out on opportunities for employees to help you come up with another idea that is better. You also lose out on employee engagement and additional ideas. If they feel that nothing was done with their original idea, they won’t be inspired to give another.
Dr. Evans Baiya is an internationally recognized and trusted guide to business leaders and innovators. Using his six-stage process, he helps the businesses identify, define, develop, verify, commercialize, and scale ideas. He is the co-author of the award-winning book, The Innovator’s Advantage and co-creator of The Innovator’s Advantage Academy, a detailed step-by-step innovation training for innovators and business leaders. Learn more at www.theinnovatorsadvantage.com.