It’s always a challenge to bring the innovative culture of any organization to higher level. After promotion of innovation program and removing the barriers, one of tasks connected with that challenge is to be successful in Idea Generation. The focus can be on the quantity of ideas, but it is also always expected, that this ideas have a certain quality to be able to get realized at the end.
In order to get quality ideas aligned with company portfolio and the situation on the market, three different approaches can be combined: traditional brainstorming (sometimes connected with Idea Awareness Workshops), innovation task force meetings and internal open contest for ideas.
Traditional brainstorming is well known with its principles and rules. However, some principles can be used in many areas of business, but some must be put in front. In the case of software development, participants of idea generation workshops are highly skilled professionals with big knowledge of their product, but without detail information about the market or competition. Often, they know only some parts of their product and don’t have an overview on complete ecosystem in which their product or even company live.
As good preparation is essential for success, the topic for which ideas are needed should be as narrow as possible. It must be well explained at the start of brainstorming session, or at the request sent to participants. This explanation should contain current overview of customers and competitors in the selected topic, together with latest trends in this topic.
By observing the changes and reflections of different idea generation principles, it can be seen that only workshops, which are from beginning focused on selected topic, can give clear results. The numbers of incremental ideas that are generated in comparison with realized incremental ideas speak, that every department has the opportunity for improvements and savings. That affects every area of software development, project management or testing.
In contrary, radical of semi-radical ideas have fewer chances, even as the number of this ideas is sometimes big. To be successful with radical ideas, many connections must be established; most important is with sales strategy and portfolio development.
Brainstorming principle should be praised and upgraded with other methods to create needed results. This includes some kind of innovation contest that can last through the year, or just the request with short time frame for ideas from narrow topic like internal innovation contest.
In short, brainstorming method should be expanded with other initiatives in order to get best results.