The best ways to innovate using an ideation tool is all about numbers. Or in the words of the late American writer and scientist Linus Pauling, the best way to have good ideas is to have lots of them and throw away the bad ones. In fact, coming up with lots of ideas and sifting through them to find the gems is a well-known way of innovating. Often, the tricky part is creating a safe enough space to encourage people to come up with ideas in the first place. This all comes down to company culture.
Businesses that actively embrace innovation adopt a stance of failing fast and smart. These companies see failure as part of the path to success. If colleagues are rewarded for falling in love with the problem and not the solutions, organizations will have people who aren’t afraid to fail. This will result in fostering a culture of trial and error and will move people away from fixing on a single idea to solve a problem.
Forget the HiPPO, time to adopt a swarm mentality
Increasingly, successful businesses are adopting Swarm intelligence in decision making and abandoning the traditional HiPPO (highest paid person in the organization) model. Collective decision making is based on the idea that we’re smarter together than alone.
We only have to look at nature for our inspiration in swarm intelligence – birds fly in flocks, bees swarm and fish swim in schools. Because by forming closed-loop systems, they collectively produce insights that greatly exceed the abilities of any individual member. Crowd-sourcing ideas is key!
Find the change agents in your company
So, what’s this got to do with Valo? Well, we’ve recently launched our ideation tool, Valo Ideas, to help our customers innovate. As the late Peter Drucker famously declared, businesses need to continually innovate or die. In other words, they need stay ahead of the pace of change or see their demise.
Yet, we appreciate that not every company will have the resources or the time to develop an R&D lab to test and develop the next big thing. But every company does have same valuable asset – their staff.
These are people who have ideas on how to improve the systems and processes within their department. The front-line staff who get to learn and respond to customer complaints and problems on a daily basis. Or even, genuinely curious people who care about the organization they work for and want to help it succeed. We call these people the change agents.
Change agents won’t have innovation in their title. They’ll come from any team, any department or any level of the company. We believe these people have the secrets to innovation and Valo Ideas is the tool that will help unleash them.
We built Valo Ideas to empower small teams of people to innovate together.
How to innovate using an ideation tool
So, we’ve come up with five ways you can use to learn how to innovate using an ideation tool within your company.
1. Give it to your front-line workers and say what’s in it for them
Valo Ideas – designed to be an app within Microsoft Teams – is a fully mobile solution. This means your deskless workers or front-line staff can access it on their mobiles. These staff are on the ground and know your customers more intimately than you do. So, ask them to come up with some solutions to the problems they’re hearing about or are encountering every day. Give them daily/weekly/monthly incentives and clearly state what’s in it for them.
2. Create a company-wide competition
Challenge your staff to solve the biggest problem your company is grappling with. Give them a deadline. Gamify it by publishing a top contributors leader board. And then offer them a prize, as I suggested in my recent blog post on launching an ideation tool, such as an Amazon gift card, for the “ideator of the month” or the idea that you take forward and test.
3. Encourage colleagues to comment and improve
There are hundreds of well-known ideation games that you can play to tease out new ideas. Many work on the premise of encouraging others to improve on the first idea suggested. Games such as, “Yes, And?”, “Five Whys” and “Six Hats” are designed to get people to see the idea or problem from another perspective or new angle.
We suggest you regularly encourage your staff to look at the ideas posted up on the ideation tool’s board to see how they can improve them. This is a great way to encourage collaboration and inter-department cooperation, plus create a culture of inclusivity.
4. Find the gaps – 10,000 ft view
You can put a general call out for new ideas and suggestions on how to improve your company and use this exercise to identify your organization’s weaknesses or gaps.
For example, if the majority of the ideas put forward are pushing for customer success strategies you can tell that this is an area that needs improvement within your company.
5. Trial the two-pizza rule
In the early days of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, who is famous for embedding R&D in every single department, instituted a rule: every internal team should be small enough that it can be fed with two pizzas. The idea behind this is that small teams can work together more effectively and faster to achieve larger goals.
Whilst getting lots of fresh eyes on old problems can work well at a macro level, when it comes to turning those ideas into actionable tasks reducing the numbers in your decision-making team may be more effective. We suggest you create a small team of six, decide on who’s going to drive the ideas forward as well as giving the ideas you’re mulling over a status, such as “new”, “thinking about it”, “working on it” or “closed”.
This was a second piece in our ideation series so if you’re yet to decide on an ideation and innovation tool, or just in the verge of launching one, take a look at our previous blog post “4 Tips To Successfully Launch An Ideation Tool”.