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Stop Killing Your Good Ideas

While senior executives sometimes do a good job of sourcing new ideas, many have the tendency to kill the good ones before they stand a chance. Learn how to structure your innovation program to avoid these six critical mistakes.

  1. Unmanaged suggestion boxes are where good ideas go to die. Whether you collect ideas via online portal or in brainstorming sessions, designate a specific team and process to evaluate them on a regular basis. Consider scheduling monthly idea processing sessions or automate the process of filtering and managing the ideas with a front-end software tool.
  2. Idea systems that rely too heavily on upper management will stall. Even in the best cultures of innovation, organizations like to push promising ideas up to senior management. Whether due to fear, complacency, or uncertainty, leadership has a tendency to delay new approaches and continue providing the same products and services or employing the same processes. Expand the vetting and development of ideas outward to employees, who are more likely to understand the possibilities and take creative risks.
  3. Lots of good ideas are killed by ad hoc. While committees and data are good resources for development of new concepts, staying too long in the planning phase will cause your idea to stall and potentially fail. Determine a set vetting process, then let go and allow the process to work.
  4. Staunch rigidity will cause you to miss viable opportunities. While you’ll use criteria to choose the best ideas, you’ll also need to remain flexible enough to adapt to the possibilities. Periodically reevaluate your standards for vetting new ideas and consider rotating team members to keep things fresh.
  5. A program presented with lukewarm effort will gain lukewarm momentum. Promote your innovation initiative consistently and with passion. Treat suggestions and proposals with respect and get senior-level support to generate awareness of the program.
  6. An ill-fitting rewards program will dampen motivation. Consider your employee culture and collective value system to determine the best motivation for participation. While financial incentives may be an option, sometimes a more creative perk or the feeling of being part of a winning team is a better approach.

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