Idea Management: Concepts, Definitions and Examples

January 01, 2022 · null min readPeople Management

Large companies and organizations should live and breathe new ideas, and the management therof. Employees, customers, and boards of directors should all be actively involved in innovation. You never know where you're best new feature or product idea will come from.

It would be one thing to ignore what they’re saying and move on with your life, but stagnation is never a good thing when it comes to the competitive corporate world. You need to constantly improve and adapt to what your stakeholders want, or your company will be in major trouble. The insight you get on company processes and various products from your employees and customers is not only valuable but also something you need to manage.

Making sure these ideas and this insight don’t get lost in translation is one way you can define idea management, but let’s discuss it a little bit more in detail.

What is Idea Management?

Idea management is the process where you take in suggestions for improvement and innovation within your organization and its products, record them, analyze them, and turn them into actionable plans when they’re identified to be of value.

We just discussed how important ideas are to your organization, but without the right way to take in those ideas and review them, you won’t be able to get any real value out of it all. Then it will really be just noise.

The idea part is easy - they’re always there, as hackathon ideas, being spoken out in meetings, being presented in customer reviews, or just being talked about in the office.

Then comes the management part. You need to develop systems that can tell the good ideas from the bad, help you organize the good ideas, and manage the rest so you can react accordingly and address recurring issues and common themes in feedback, whether it’s feedback about internal operations or your products and services.

Why Do We Need Idea Management?

It’s no surprise that companies need to be adaptable and change. Failing to adapt to changes is pretty much what took down companies like Kodak (who failed to catch on to
the digital photography trend in time), Blockbuster (who failed to compete with the services Netflix was providing with their app and streaming platform), and Blackberry (who resisted letting go of their iconic keyboard).

All these companies could have listened to what the market and their customers were telling them, been adaptable, and lived on to be major players in their own respective markets.

Idea management helps you actually listen and react appropriately to different ideas and suggestions, which in turn ensures that your company can stay ahead of the game. Here are some of the challenges idea management can help you overcome when it comes to figuring out how and when you should change how you’re doing things:

Bridging the Communication Gap

The people making change-making decisions like the managers and executives aren’t usually there to deal with the nitty-gritty of everyday life in the office, nor are they listening in to customer support calls or personally supervising all collaborations. This, in turn makes it hard for them to be present when a good idea is suggested, and even harder to
recognize that the idea is good.

An idea management platform will give people the opportunity to pour all their ideas into a single place or have an automated process to divert ideas from different places onto the same platform. Once this is done, executives and the people responsible for making changes within the organization can view and sort all these ideas as they wish.

Prevents Ideas From Getting Lost

When all relevant and useful ideas are being funneled through an efficient sorting system, characterized, and then either stored, passed along or rejected, it’s very hard to lose sight of the good ones.

Losing good ideas and suggestions in the middle of all the ones you can’t act on or ones that don’t align with your company’s goals and identity is a very big issue when you’re not using an idea management platform.

Empower Employees and Customers

Making all the company’s stakeholders feel heard and their concerns acknowledged is a very big part of idea management that should not be missed. Everyone working with your company is going to have something to say, and if they’re encountering a real problem, they can feel empowered to fix it and help bring it to your notice.

This way, you’ll be able to save your company from a lot of damage and dissent. The current unemployment situation in the USA in the service industry is a very big example of what happens when companies don’t listen to their employees. Restaurants are failing or struggling to work, and it could have all been avoided if employee concerns had been met in time.

Give Ideas Structure

Ideas are useful and valuable, but not managing them properly can result in them turning into little more than complaints. When you don’t let them take form and listen to them, you’re missing out on a lot of useful stuff.

With an idea management platform, you can make sure your ideas don’t mutate into an in-actionable jumble of gripes and complaints.

How is Idea Management Challenging?


While Idea management is certainly a very important thing for any company, it comes with its own challenges. Ideas are either too many, or they don’t reach the right person, and a good idea that’s not acted upon is just as useless as a bad idea.

It’s Disorganized

Idea management without an idea management platform most likely consists of systems like sticky notes and managers and customer service representatives listening to complaints and suggestions.

Hard to Pass Information Along

And once all the ideas are collected, it will be a challenge to get them to the right person without doing the kind of effort no one is willing to do. Employees in big companies don’t always get into discussions with upper management.

Hard to Gather Insights and Recognize Patterns

Even if the information can be passed on, it will be hard for product managers to sort through all the feedback, identify patterns, see what suggestions and complaints are more frequent than others, and judge how certain important issues are when compared to others. In the absence of such insights, it can be easy to make the wrong decisions or fail to recognize areas where prompt action is needed.

Benefits of Idea Management

With the help of idea management, you can address all the problems mentioned above and much more. Here are some direct benefits companies see when they implement idea managment.

  • Increase revenue by introducing products and services your customers want to invest in and by improving employee performance by addressing issues they have in the workplace that were coming in the way of their performance.

  • Compete better. You will gain insights into what your customer wants and what their thoughts are about things like your brand identity and marketing campaigns. Once you see and react to their feedback, you’ll see your market share improving day by day as you attract customers.

  • Reduce operational costs. When you’re listening to what your customers want before coming up with a new collection of clothes or perfume, you’re reducing your losses. In addition, you no longer depend on costly market research and data that is hard to come by to figure out what your customers want and what your approach should be for new products and services - you already have all kinds of ideas from the idea management pipeline ready to go.

  • Achieve your goals faster by making informed decisions about what your customers want.

What is an Idea Management Platform?

An idea management platform or software is something that can help you collect, manage, evaluate, and derive insights from customer and employee feedback. With the help of the right platform, employees will now have the right place to come and share suggestions and insights with you.

This insight will then be sorted and organized for you by the platform in various forms, like by frequency of occurrence, by a common theme, and by keyword. You can then access all this information for your own decision-making purposes, accept and reject ideas, and even pass some along to other people in your organization whose input is needed in the matter.

A platform like this also gives you the chance to sort all ideas into ones that are relevant and need to be acted upon and ones that need to be discarded - but now you’re making these decisions with access to the full picture. This is something that is hard to manage without an idea management platform.

How do You Manage Ideas?

Idea management isn’t just about making sure you have access to all information; it’s also about judging what part of that information needs more attention than the rest. When picking ideas from your idea management platform that could be useful to your company, there are some questions you need to ask yourself.

Does the Idea Align With the Company’s Vision and Goals?

Suppose that your task, for now, is to make sure that a cup gets filled with water and the cup is placed under a faucet that’s not running right now. You have two ideas in the idea management system, and they’re both good ideas. One says that you should turn the tap on, and the other says that you should put some ice in the cup so the water will be cold -
it’s hot outside.

While both of these ideas are good, only one of those ideas is useful to your company, and that’s the one that talks about turning the faucet on. Your goal is to have enough water, not to have cold water.

In the same way, think about what ideas help you meet the goals your company has set instead of getting carried away with all the advice you get.

Is it Actionable?

One of the people might even suggest that you bring in a gallon of water from the store or that you just fill the cup from a swimming pool. Only, you’re standing in the kitchen, and you don’t have a swimming pool, and you only need a cup of water, not a gallon. While both these ideas, in theory, will land you with more water, they’re not really of any use to you.

Do You Have Enough Ideas?

People should be encouraged to contribute ideas to your system so you can come up with an actionable plan on how to get where you want to be. Without enough input, there might not be much to manage.

Can Others Contribute?

Some ideas are brilliant, but you might not have the expertise to recognize that. This is a common problem if your role is strictly managerial in an organization that specializes in IT services - you’re not the IT expert here. You might need to bring in experts and people from different departments for their input about what ideas might be worth keeping and what
aren’t.

Does my company need idea management?


Change and innovation are crucial for companies to succeed today, and idea management can provide proper direction, form, and purpose to this change. This is how companies come up with successful brand ideas and strategies to cope with the change, but it’s not up to upper management and company owners alone to generate ideas, strategies and make decisions over where the company is going.

When all employees and customers have a say in the matter, and you have the ability to hear everyone out in a meaningful and organized way, to truly grok their needs, your company can drastically improve its fate.

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