What universe are you from

Idea management: this is how you get to a universe full of ideas!

On the way to customer-focused leadership: Sales and cost pressure means that a company has run out of ideas. Way up you only stay with one rich treasure trove of ideas, with continuous customer-focused improvements and successful innovations. An unbureaucratic idea management is a never-ending resource on the way to this goal. A company cannot generate enough ideas.

Only those who roll a lot will also roll sixes in the end.

Idea management: how do ideas come about?

First of all it takes to do this a good base: an open culture of innovation and a climate that promotes innovation, based on a willingness to take risks, a constant willingness to learn and a high tolerance for mistakes. After that, things quickly become operational. Anyone who wants to systematically develop innovations can design, for example:

  • Innovation workshops together with customers, so that not only does the company benefit, but customers also learn from each other
  • Creative think tanks under expert guidance with selected creative techniques at a creative location outside the company
  • regular, extended, informal Creative breakfasts with brainstorming sessions, preferably in a special creative room
  • one Ideas fairwhere employees can present and rate their wildest ideas
  • a Green meadow event, where you go outside, preferably to an energetic place with splashing water
  • a Creative zone on the intranet with creative blogs and wikis

Company suggestion scheme - a discontinued model

The fast and loose Web 3.0 technologies have the sedate company suggestion system with its bureaucratic bodies and tough evaluation procedures already largely replaced. At BMW, for example, there are intranet computers in the production halls so that the fitters can enter their findings and suggestions directly on site.

On the web, ideas can easily be commented on, enriched, evaluated and weighted. Many companies now use corporate wikis as a knowledge platform to inform all interested employees grassroots democracy in a continuous gathering of ideas and innovation to participate. The easy addition and the linking structures ensure constant optimization.

EXTRA: Employee management: How to actively involve employees in the corporate strategy

Idea management: example Synaxon AG

People who would never have dared to speak up before use the wiki to express their opinion.

Synaxon employee in Brand Eins magazine

"All contributions are documented in our wiki in such a way that everyone can see who has contributed what," explains Frank Roebers, CEO of Synaxon AG, a provider of cooperation models for computer dealers. Participation in the wiki is, among other things, the basis for filling projects and flow into the personnel evaluation system a. In addition to the internal wiki, Synaxon also has one for franchisees and one for partner companies.

Yes-butter or Why-notter?

Good ideas are very fragile. A stiff breeze often blows towards them and their creators because they have to defend themselves against so many brakemen and nonsenseers. As is well known, every change has people involved, offended, affected and supporters. It contains chances of success and risks, sets hopes and fears free. It first requires insight, then letting go of cherished routines and finally being open to new things. But discouragement or power games often nip all creative thinking in the bud.

The good old time"

In some companies it is already a tradition to be the first reaction to a suggestion to address the negative first. There it is the questioners who (are allowed) to speak up loudly first, who sense dangers everywhere and talk about every suggestion, however good it may be. She likes to look back at the good old days. The uncertainty of the future scares them. Because that's one thing with the future: it has the unpleasant quality of leaving us in the dark about its course.

Since everything uncertain and negative can mean danger to life and limb, it quickly comes to the fore and is usually overrated. So please clarify with a simple tally sheet: How often do we talk about what isn't working here? And how much is really going wrong? How many customers are really difficult? How much more effective is the competition? Or maybe they only have the employees with the better attitude?

Idea management: angel advocates are in demand

Who many Yes-butter (= Yes, but ...!) Has in his team, let the Why-notter (= Why not actually!) Act. You get in a meeting as a so-called Angel advocates always the first word. You support an idea, first find the good in it and give her such a chance of survival. Now there are at least two in the room for it, and lateral thinkers receive the urgently needed backing.

Because innovative solutions usually do not result from “more of the same” but from “this time completely different”. Bosses should calm down the ensuing discussion let it run for a while, because that usually brings additional valuable aspects into play and approaches what is actually feasible.

EXTRA: Make the customer the main actor!

In “cotton ball meetings”, on the other hand, you need one Devil advocatesthat too willing consent critically questioned. Consensus decisions are not always the best, because they tame even the wildest idea and at most create everyday solutions. Mediocre, however, is threatened with extinction. Because nobody wants to buy anything mediocre these days.

So extremes need space and support in a meeting. The function of the angel or devil advocate can be exercised by the participants alternately. In this way everyone learns to play for and against, that is to say to be a slower and sometimes a driver.

Set up an ideas bank

Interesting idea management from meetings and creative workshops, impulses from complaints, suggestions from employee and customer surveys, appropriate impulses from the media, the web, from trade fairs and trend reports as well as all suggestions for improvement belong in a central ideas bank, even if there is currently no use for it. You never know! An ideas bank works like a real bank: if necessary, you can have something paid out, something else remains as a deposit for later. Such a procedure also reduces employee frustration if their ideas do not come into their own right away.

The ideas bank will evaluated periodically. Appropriate ideas are assigned to the individual products, processes or customer groups. Useful suggestions are further developed, tried out and implemented as quickly as possible in order to create new opportunities for enthusiasm and thus loyalty - and to initiate word of mouth.

Anne M. Schüller is a keynote speaker, multiple award-winning bestselling author and business coach. The graduate in business administration is considered a leading expert in touchpoint management and customer-focused corporate management. She is one of the most sought-after speakers in German-speaking countries. In 2015 she was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the German Speakers Association. Her most recent books are called “Die Orbit-Organization” and “lateral thinker desperately wanted”.