I get lots of questions and suggestions for things to write about during the week. And while the forums are locked, I’ll answer here instead:
Kishore asks: when too many ideas are created in a company, have you seen a efficient (and web 2.0) way for colleagues (every knowledge worker) to rank each otherâ€™s ideas ? and select the top and implement? (See collatodo)
This is never the big problem. There are a zillion ways to track ideas and they’ve been around for a long time (A whiteboard, a spreadsheet, a wiki, any database, etc.). The lack of a tool for this is not the reason why a team isn’t creative, or isn’t making good products. It’s that the people with power are not putting them into action.
Sure, some tools are better than others, but it’s like having grocery lists: having a tool for families to vote on things to buy is one thing, but someone actually going to the store and laying down cash to buy them is another.
The problem in most organizations isn’t a shortage of ideas, it’s that few ideas are given a chance to grow before they’re killed. If you want an organization to be more creative, the people in power need to decide to fund, develop, and ship those ideas out to people. And if people don’t know how that happens currently, then the first step is for leaders to make the existing process visible to everyone.
Here’s another good one:
JR asks: Iâ€™m working in a tech company as a Project Manager and would like to change my career slowly in the direction of an innovation enabler. Where shall I start? (It can be an URL you give me ;)
First step: stop using the word innovation. It’s a buzzword, it’s jargon, and most creative people’s eyes will glaze over when you use it. Instead, use words like: positive change, better decisions, and making co-workers more effective and creative. Those 3 things are tangible and co-workers will have a clue as to what you’re talking about.
As far as enabling, here’s 3 quick tips:
- Identify one specific challenge or unmet need your customers have. It’s easiest to anchor creativity around customers, since that’s who you’re making things for. Collaborate with your team to create this list, or pick something from an existing list. Start small, pick one problem, and rally your team around it.
- Brainstorm ways to change your product to satisfy that need. Keep the group of people involved small, make it fun, and do it in an afternoon.
- Make quick/cheap prototypes. Do some experiments: try out some of the ideas for #2. Make it fun. Give programmers an afternoon to play with ideas (buy them lunch, and protect this play time). If few are interested, pick the few and focus on them. After a few sessions pick your most interesting experiment, and refine into something you can pitch to decision makers.
As the PM, you’re a great person to be leading the process of identifying problems, generating ideas, and prototyping solutions. If you do this once for a small thing, and it ships, you’ll have earned the trust from your team to repeat it, possibly on larger ideas.
Have a question you want me to answer? Leave a comment below or contact me.