“We are what we repeatedly do. Quality is not an act, it is a habit.”
Aristotle was a wise man for many reasons, not least because of that quote. In order to become really good at something, the formation of habits and processes are essential. We at IdeaScale noticed that, regardless of type of business or organization, there were certain similarities among all those who were engaging in innovation programs; we noticed that there were a few key processes in every program in order to help transform the idea into a reality. Which is why we created Stages, which is mirrored after those universal activities.
There are seven main stages in moving an idea into a fully-formed, implemented innovation. The first, of course, is actually getting the idea. We have found that two things are especially important at this stage: one, that all voices be heard. You’re going to be able to winnow down to implemented ideas best if you cast the widest net to begin with. And two, that incentivizing your idea pool participants works in soliciting innovative ideas. Idea quality has been shown to go up by 40% when incentives were introduced.
The second stage is team building. After all of the ideas have been gathered, and the community has had a chance to weigh in on the ideas which seem the most viable, teams should be built around the most likely ideas. This stage helps to realize whether a particular idea is realistic in the long run. For example, if an idea sounds good, but then cannot find at least one champion to help it along, perhaps it’s not the idea that makes the most sense for implementation. Likewise, an idea may seem good on paper, but after doing more research, perhaps its not feasible financially or perhaps there’s already somebody in the market doing the same thing better than your organization would be able to do it.
This question of feasibility is directly related to the third and fourth stages of refining and estimating respectively. Once teams have been built, they will do more research in the refinement stage into the competitive landscape, the feasibility, the necessary resources in order to adequately evaluate whether or not the idea could or should actually be implemented. And while research can get you pretty far, the estimation stage can act as a double check on information that has been gathered. In the estimation stage, experts and the crowd in general are consulted to help validate the knowledge that the teams have learned in the refinement stage. Research has shown that crowd knowledge is actually more effective than that of experts, using the example of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?: during the game, experts were shown to be right 65% of the time, while the crowd was right fully 91% of the time. Crowd knowledge is a powerful thing.
The fifth stage considers all of the information that has been gathered by the team, and affirmed by experts and the crowd, and assesses whether the idea is in line with set business objectives and business plans. One of the most important things to think about at this stage is financial cost; although there will certainly be other costs involved in implementing an idea, financial cost is often the most revelatory. The sixth stage deals specifically with funding. 46% of startups fail because of a lack of funding, and 80% of businesses overall fail because of inadequate capital. Making sure that your organization is financially solvent enough for the entire realization of an idea is incredibly important.
Last but not least, as with many things, it is important to celebrate victories! Not only do you get to revel in the joy of having seen something through from beginning to end, celebrating ideas that have been seen through from beginning to end is by far the best way to encourage continued and future engagement. After all, who doesn’t want to be part of a winning team?
To find out more about Stages, click here.