In spite of all the buzz and the new technology platforms that enable such collaboration, idea management technologies rarely deliver on their promise. These efforts typically launch with a lot of fanfare and produce a flurry of activity, but because there is often no overall system in place employees become jaded and disengage.
Don’t fall for the “Our employees have a lot of ideas. We just need a technology to collect them,” statement to fool you into thinking it’ll be as easy as that.
A technology to help with innovation efforts should not be seen as something new, but rather as a robust way to streamline what has always been the method for fostering innovation:
- Listening well to others
- Finding experts you haven’t met yet in the organization
- Creating opportunities for interaction around ideas
- Surfacing and prioritizing organizational challenges
- Getting diverse opinions and perspectives involved
- Trusting the wisdom of many minds
Watch out! Just because you have really smart programmers on staff, capable of designing a customizable idea collaboration system, doesn’t mean you should build it yourself. Do a bit of due diligence and learn from the providers in this space. Then ask, “Should we build it ourselves?” Our general advice is not to.
To build a long-term culture of innovation at your organization, technology will be a required component. However, it shouldn’t be your starting point. Look at the 12 Strategic Action Areas and assess the amount of effort for each strategy. If you are ignoring or doing very little in the areas of Leadership, Accountability/Recognition and Skill Development, what we call the 3 Pillars, get those areas working first!