Innovation starts with an idea. Here’s how to find your best ideas – and what to do once you’ve found them.
Innovation comes from ideas. Like a spark to a flame, a single idea can grow into a world-changing innovation. From the wheel to the light bulb to the iPhone, all the greatest innovations of humankind began with a thought. So how do you come up with great ideas? How do you build a culture in which ideas flourish? And how can you tell which ideas are worth pursuing? Here’s how...
Ideas should come from everyone
Innovation is not exclusive to the C-suite – or to any department for that matter. A great idea can come from anyone at any time. That’s why it makes sense to build a culture that encourages the sharing of ideas. By opening the playing field up to everyone, you increase your chances of finding truly innovative solutions.
Encouraging diversity of ideas in this way isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ – it actually works. You get the benefit of different perspectives – something which is invaluable when it comes to innovation. If an employee works in customer services, for example, they may encounter a particular problem that someone in a different department simply wouldn’t see. Or they might have a very different view of the organisation as a whole compared to someone working in HR or marketing.
Of course, this approach will probably result in a large volume of ideas. Some will be impractical, others simply won't work, and one or two might just be the start of something brilliant. That’s why you need a clear method for choosing and prioritising ideas.
Choose ideas that align with organisational goals
Wherever your idea has come from, it needs to align with your organisational goals; your innovation should always be serving your overall strategy. This can be challenging. It’s easy to fall in love with an impressive idea or to forget exactly why you’re doing this in the first place. That’s why you need a reliable system for choosing which ideas to explore.
Once you know what your overall objectives are, you need to set smaller goals that will help you work towards the overarching goal. The next step is setting OKRs (objectives and key results) that will help to clarify and break down your goals into measurable actions. Your overall objectives, goals and OKRs are effectively the metrics you need to use to tell you how worthwhile your idea is.
Within Acclaim Ideas, our tools do this for you. We measure the alignment of your ideas against your organisational strategy, goals and OKRs. There’s no guesswork and no bias. Our platform allows you to rigorously assess your idea and determine whether or not it makes sense in terms of your organisational strategy. This kind of reliable system allows you to see the true value of your ideas.
Ensure that ideas are shared across the organisation
Although great ideas can come from anywhere, developing them into innovative products and solutions usually requires a dedicated innovation team. Once you have a viable idea, the decision to push things forward and begin a new project is not going to involve the whole company. However, it is important that you get buy-in across your organisation from the very start.
The importance of sharing ideas
If you're trying to build a culture that values innovation and idea sharing, it’s crucial that the sharing works both ways. Not only is this practical when changes are happening, but it also promotes inclusion, mutual respect and trust.
Most of your employees are unlikely to be involved in the process of developing an idea but the end result could change the way they work. In some cases (depending on the type of solution) you may be expecting them to make changes as soon as the project begins. That’s why you need to be open and transparent, and make sure everyone is on board. If you have a small team, the practicality of real-time sharing and feedback is likely to be relatively easy. But what if you have hundreds or thousands of employees spread across multiple departments?
How to share ideas and developments with your team
Acclaim Ideas solves the practical problem of how to share your ideas. Everyone in your organisation can see what areas or problems the company is focusing on, give feedback on ideas that are being considered, and get inspiration for new ideas for the future. In short: it allows you to communicate about your ideas, and helps to make everyone feel included in the innovation process.
Many heads are better than one
There’s no point diversifying where your ideas come from if you stop sharing after that. A strong, strategy-aligned idea is just the beginning – it’s the first stage of assessing an idea. If you’ve asked everyone for their ideas, it makes logical sense to also ask them how well they think a suggested idea would work.
Acclaim Ideas allows you to get a clear picture of what your whole organisation thinks about an idea. Each idea on the platform has an activity score: a measure of interaction. This score is calculated by the number of comments, views and follows for a particular idea.
When a member of your team logs into the platform and comments on an idea or shares it with someone else, the activity score for that idea increases. The more engagement an idea receives, the more visible it becomes to your innovation team, making it more likely to be reviewed and potentially developed.
If innovation is a flame, ideas are the spark: you can’t innovate without them. However, simply having a great idea is not enough. If you’re doing it right and engaging your whole company, you’ll have numerous ideas but it’s the next part that’s the challenge: the process of determining what could work and how it benefits your organisation as a whole. That’s where we come in. Acclaim Ideas is designed to facilitate and manage the entire process, from setting your strategy all the way through to testing and analysing results, so you can focus on coming up with great ideas.
Acclaim Ideas is designed to find, test and deliver the best ideas in your organisation. Get started today with a free one-month trial.