Idea Management for Competitive Advantage

The rapid rise of new technologies and market disruption on the corporate landscape means idea management is more crucial today than ever before. To remain competitive – and capture groundbreaking insights – companies must give employees an engaging, streamlined, and collaborative means to contribute their ideas.

What Is Idea Management?

Idea management is the process of finding, developing, and implementing the ideas that can deliver value for an enterprise. It involves setting clear parameters for idea submissions, identifying the target audiences best positioned to contribute ideas (employees, customers, experts, etc), and facilitating communication between stakeholders and idea managers.

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The Innovation Ecosystem

Discover how idea management can drive innovation at your enterprise!

Innovation Management Solutions - funnel

By developing an idea management ecosystem, you can target key objectives, streamline the evolution of new innovation insights, and ensure they are implemented effectively. This graphic provides a visual overview of how an innovation funnel can help you harness, develop, and unleash new ideas for maximum impact.

The Key Challenges of Idea Management

Fostering a culture of ideation, where participants can take an active part in innovation projects

Incentivizing users to increase participation in idea management campaigns

Filtering submissions to detect and augment ideas with the most potential

Implementing, monitoring, and measuring the ROI of new ideas submitted by your users

Achieve Your Strategic Business Goals With an Idea Management Tool

Employee Suggestion Box

Streamline idea management by implementing an online suggestion box, allowing employees to contribute concepts for new products, services, or process improvements.

Continuous Improvement

Generate ongoing accumulative benefit for your organization by embedding idea management into your company culture through a digital employee ecosystem.

Innovation Management

Discover new ides for disruptive innovation, market opportunities, and technologies, which can facilitate change management at your company.

What The Experts Say...

"Senior executives almost unanimously (94%) say that people and corporate culture are the most important drivers of innovation."

“Organizations must actively mine and manage the collective wisdom and experiences in the firm’s ecosystem to thrive in an increasingly competitive market.”

"Nothing will propel a company further than a culture of innovation: An atmosphere that inspires employees, every hour they're at work, to seek out innovative opportunities."

"In many organizations, there is an explicit goal of innovating in a way that is culturally inclusive to engage employees as well as benefit from their collective brainpower."

Origins, Evolution, & Methodologies:
Why Idea Management is Important

Journey with us as we explore the fascinating origins of idea management, as well as the innovative thinkers who have helped shape its evolution. We’ll also outline some of the powerful methodologies you can adopt to help ensure your idea management platform yields growth-driving results. Enjoy the ride!


The History of Idea Management

Origins of the Idea Management Tool: The Royal Rise of the Suggestion Box

The sophisticated and multifaceted practice that is idea management has its antecedents in the humble ‘suggestion box’. Though the origins of this method are not clear, the technique can be traced back to the 1770s in Britain, when the Royal Navy introduced a suggestion box to enable sailors to submit often controversial suggestions – without fearing reprisals from their superior officers. It is also believed that the shogun of Japan implemented a similar system during the 18th century also, placing a box outside his palace to encourage honest suggestions from the military. Centuries later, this simple methodology would go on to inform the best idea management tools online. 

Refining the Method: The ‘Kaizen’ Approach

Centuries later, another major development in the refinement of idea management also emerged in Japan – occurring shortly after the Second World War. During this time, American manufacturing experts and industrialists from a variety of sectors were tasked with assisting the Japanese with their rebuilding efforts. Their quality management strategies were adopted and combined with the adaptive, tenacious, and waste-reducing qualities of local businesses to produce the ‘Kaizen’ system – (from the Sino-Japanese word meaning “change for the better”). 

This system was perhaps best epitomized within the Toyota corporation by the revolutionary idea management initiatives of Shoichi Saito – one of Toyota’s most prolific project leaders, and chairman during the 1970s. Deriving inspiration from companies like Ford, Saito focused heavily on boosting the quantity of employee suggestions, rather than just the quality – with the aim of eliminating the fear previously held by employees that they would be criticized if their ideas weren’t adopted. Saito also mandated that senior leaders throughout the company should be actively involved in encouraging ideation, setting up idea assessment committees, and implementing rigorous processes for testing employee suggestions.

The Internet Era: Digitizing the Idea Management Tool

During the 1990s, the meteoric rise of the internet enabled the ‘kaizen’ method of idea management to take place on a much larger scale. The advent of email meant that ideas could be sent anonymously with unprecedented speed. In addition, new productivity software and databases such as ODBC, Microsoft Excel, Lotus, and Access meant that ideas could be efficiently compiled and modified. The internet revolution also meant that the in-house brainstorming session – a traditional ideation strategy popular in the 1970s and 80s- became increasingly redundant. This was largely because employees who had felt intimidated by the prospect of voicing ideas within these meetings now had an outlet to express their suggestions more freely online. In short, the internet quickly became an integral prerequisite for any company looking to facilitate large-scale idea management.

In the early 2000’s, the increasingly disruptive nature of the digital corporate landscape meant that innovation took on a whole new dimension of importance. Companies began searching for more sophisticated collective intelligence solutions to crowdsource and refine ideas submitted by employees, as well as their market audience. This demand led to the development of more sophisticated online idea management tool designs – enabling managers to set the focus for idea campaigns, open them up for submissions, and allow participants within those campaigns to comment and upvote ideas submitted by peers. 

New Horizons: The Future of Idea Management

Today, with new opportunities opened up by machine learning and social media integration, the practice of idea management has never held so much promise. Developments in ideation gamification – that is, adding competitive dimensions to submitting and voting on ideas – means that engaging and incentivising employees to innovate has also become far more achievable. It is precisely these exciting new developments that major idea management software providers are committed to delivering to enterprise clients. Qmarkets is recognized as a leader among these providers, and is lauded by customers for delivering one of the best idea management tool options on the corporate landscape. 

With the Qmarkets platform, you can ensure
groundbreaking business ideas are captured,
developed, and implemented for maximum effect!

Idea Management Pioneers

  • Shoichi Saito – the Toyota employee, whose revolutionary suggestion methodology developed in the 1960s helped lay the foundations for the ‘Kaizen’ system used in thousands of offices today.
  • Ray Dalio – a billionaire investor and hedge-fund manager who refined the notion of ‘idea meritocracy’ – an evaluation approach that emphasizes that the best ideas should always be actualized, regardless of the person who developed them. 

  • Scott Belsky – the author of ‘Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality’, who has undertaken pioneering research on idea life cycles and implementation.
  • Alan G. Robinson – co-author of ‘Ideas Are Free’, a global study of 150 organizations in 17 countries exploring how ideas are gathered from employees to secure competitive advantage.

Methodologies & Approaches

There are a variety of effective ways enterprise companies can harness the power of idea management to drive growth through innovation. A sophisticated online idea management tool will be able to accommodate each of the following methodologies:

  • Kaizen: A Japanese term meaning “change for the better”, Kaizen is a continuous improvement strategy. It entails employees at all levels of a company combining their skills to bring about incremental improvements. Kaizen serves as an effective method for establishing a culture where ideation is encouraged and silos are broken down.
  • Competitive Ideation: An incentivization approach in which senior executives offer rewards for ideas that enable the company to achieve substantial ROI. These rewards could take the form of a gift, a cash prize, or even the chance to earn a percentage of the ROI the new idea achieves. In addition to employees, ideation competitions can be opened to startup companies looking for investment – potentially taking on a format similar to popular TV shows like ‘Shark Tank’ and ‘Dragons’ Den’.

  • Crowdsourcing: The crowdsourcing approach involves targeting select internal or external audiences for innovation projects, incentivising them to contribute ideas, and leveraging their input to achieve business objectives. Approaches for crowdsourcing idea projects can entail using questionnaires, promotions, or even competitions to encourage contributions. An online idea management tool is now indispensable when it comes to facilitating crowdsourcing effectively. 

  • Empathy Mapping: A key component of the design-thinking process, empathy mapping involves encouraging customers to submit their experiences relating to the company’s products or services. The key ‘pain or gain’ points expressed by customers and customer-facing staff can generate a map of where innovation efforts need to be focused, as well as inform the focus of ideation challenges.

Leading Global Enterprises Innovate with Qmarkets!

Your Q-360 Suite of Collective Intelligence Solutions

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Resounding Accolades

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Read G2's 2020 Spring Grid Report for Idea Management Software

Read Gartner’s 2016 Market Guide for Innovation Management Solutions

Read Forrester Wave™: Innovation Management Solutions, 2016

Read MWD Advisors' report on Qmarkets’ packaged approach to innovation, 2018

Read the Info-Tech vendor landscape “Innovation Management Solutions” report

Gain Powerful Idea Management Insights from Colruyt Group

In this insight-packed Innovator Spotlight case study, Eef Wilgenhof from Colruyt Group shares her experiences managing the company’s IDnet project with Qmarkets’ cutting edge idea management platform.

Download the Interview

Get Your Free Copy of the Spring 2020 G2 Idea and Innovation Management Report!

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