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Intranet Advent Day 10 – Your intranet can be an ideation engine, but only if given fuel

Intranet Advent Day 10 – Your intranet can be an ideation engine, but only if given fuel

10We’re counting down to Christmas with a stocking-filler tip every day.

Your intranet can be the platform for problem solving and innovation, helping you streamline your internal practices and bring better products and services to market. But only if you involve people in the right way. Like Good King Wenceslas, it needs fuel (see the deft Christmas connection there?).

The process is more important than the tool. Whether you use discussion fora, dedicated Q&A systems, project spaces, or your enterprise social network, guide the ideation process so that people know what to concentrate on.

“Constraints drive innovation and guide focus.”37Signals

If you just keep saying ‘please make a suggestion’ then it will be too open-ended and fail to engage. Although it sounds more constrained, posing a specific problem to tackle is likely to get more responses.

Secondly, any general ideation or suggestion initiative will fail unless there’s a commitment to respond. Ideas need to be hot-housed (the process of nurturing new, small ideas, instead of grinding them down with initial judgement / negativity).

Ellen van Aken shares an engagement blooper, when the CEO wanted a ‘cost reduction’ suggestion system, which was so poorly maintained that every contributor must have felt ignored and, frankly, mugged-off. Nobody assessed any of the suggestions; nobody replied to any of the suggestions; no ideas were implemented.

To successfully engage employees and support innovation, online ideation initiatives should:

  • be easy to use – well-designed in function and form;
  • transparent – the assessment and implementation process should be clear;
  • constrained – by purpose / objective or by time;
  • well communicated – the exciting thing isn’t that you’ve launched an ideas initiative – share the successes, keep communicating the well thought out ideas, and their impact, to a wider audience;
  • be seen to involve accountable managers, and senior leadership;
  • be owned – a responsible curator to ensure adherence to the transparent process.

Is your company risk-averse? What’s the risk of not innovating?

Who knows more about your customers’ pain – the Marketing Director or the customer service reps? Who knows more about supply-chain problems – the Finance Director or the engineers, field workers, and quantity surveyors?

Check #intranetadvent for a fresh idea each day.

Wedge Black

I support ClearBox in everything we do online, and I assist clients that are considering redeveloping or replacing their intranet platform. I worked in global and regional organisations as the intranet manager as part of the comms team, before becoming an intranet consultant. I'm the founder of the Intranet Now annual conference. I’ve tweeted about intranets and comms for fifteen years now.

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