Ideas in Context
There are two ways to create context for innovation. The first is to publish a challenge or problem that needs to be solved. In this context, a team submits a challenge that the business faces or a problem that needs to be solved. The team also indicates the parameters of the solution, if applicable, and how the outcomes should be measured. So a challenge might look like this:
We are losing customers to Competitor X's new online portal. Our team requires new ideas to attract our old customers back to our portal and attract Competitor X's existing customers and prospects as well. A great idea will be measured based on its viability, it's ability to attract customers to the portal, the cost to implement, our ability to implement and the expected measurable increase in portal members.
By creating a defined challenge or problem, you can indicate:
- What the significant challenges the business is facing, so ideation is working on your most significant challenges
- What a solution might look like without limiting ideas
- How the solution will be evaluated, so ideas that don't pass these screens are less likely to be submitted
The second method to provide context is to ask the submitter for the context, evaluation criteria and measurement. Rather than simply allow individuals to submit ideas for the business, they need to also provide information regarding how the idea should be evaluated, what the measurable benefit will be to the business, the estimated effort and time to implement the idea and what part of the business will benefit. Too many suggestion boxes allow people to submit ideas with no context. Forcing the submitters to create the context will encourage more focus around the ideas and provide more direction for the idea evaluators. The obvious challenge with this approach is that each submitter determines what is important and drives the criteria, rather than the business providing focus.
Whether you use a focused challenge or an open suggestion box, developing the context for the ideas you capture will make your innovation process significantly more effective.