Someone had produced a sensible list of requirements for an Idea Management System, but all of
the software solutions in the list seemed to meet those requirements! It was difficult to evaluate
and select a preferred option.
To implement the best Idea Management System for your organization's needs, I suggest a 4-stepprocess that I call the 'Why-What-What-Which.'
First, begin by asking why your organization is innovating. Consider the 4 drivers for innovation,
and ask: exactly why is it your organization seeks to innovate? Is it to improve revenue growth, to
reduce costs and improve efficiencies, to improve competitive differentiation and positioning, or
to remain relevant in a changingcompetitive landscape?
The more strongly you can answer the why question, the more strongly you will be able to engage
internal resources in the change, and the more strongly you will be able to focus your selection
process to meet your organization's real needs.
Take care to consider if the mandate for innovation is in response to a short term problem, or
responding to a longer termstructural shift in your market. Sometimes there might be a real
difference between the two, and being clear about which it is can help the decision making
process and assist in developing infrastructure that will continue to benefit the needs of your
organization in the long term.
2. What? (what will it do?)
Once you are clear about the reasons you are innovating - and the reasons that an IdeaManagement System will help address these needs - then it is time to get specific about what will
your Idea Management System do to help achieve those objectives?
One way you could explore this is to step in to the future ... if you could wave a magic wand and
the perfect Idea Management System for your organization was already operating and producing
ideal results, what would you see? Whatwould it accomplish?
To get the most out of this exercise, get specific! For example –
What are the benefits - for example in terms of revenue from new products and services,
in cost efficiencies, or in terms of other metrics?
How many ideas are being put in to action each year or quarter or month?
What kinds of new products or services or changes are being generated, and what is thecommercial return on those ideas?
Where do these new ideas come from - which parts of the organization, from which roles
and responsibilities? Who is contributing, and how?
What kind of ideas are they?
How are people working together, what kind of activities are taking place to take place to
generate and capture great ideas, evaluate them, and select and implement the best
ones? How does everybody feel about the system, what kind of difference has it made?
What new capabilities will you have?
How is the system affecting different aspects of your business, for example your strategic
planning, competitive positioning, and your brand?
Think about how the organization will be different as an result of implementing the ideal Idea
Management System, and how this willaddress the mandate for innovation from stage 1.
3. What? (what has to happen?)
The next stage is to ask: what has to happen in order to achieve these objectives? What systems
and processes and activities are needed? How will the Idea Management System achieve these
This stage is about exploring and defining the system, processes, roles and other aspects that are
required toachieve the objectives.
For example, the best ideas may need to be financed and managed through to commercialization.
It may be appropriate to start thinking about how your innovation project portfolio are going to be
Similarly, which roles and responsibilities will be required in order to fulfil your innovation goals?
Who needs to take responsibility and ownership for the...