Overview: In any innovation program, ideas need to be examined through three lenses: How practical they are, the likelihood the idea will succeed, and whether the idea reaches your ultimate goals. There are multiple techniques for doing so, which can be mixed and matched as needed. IdeaScale’s tools draw on employee feedback and behind-the-scenes metrics to ensure you have a fuller and more transparent picture of each idea.
Designing An Evaluation Process
When evaluating ideas, the ideal process is efficient and transparent. Especially in large organizations, or large groups, everyone should understand the process, and you should be able to deal with large volumes of ideas in a way that feels both honest and fair.
A few points to consider with any evaluation process:
- What are the ultimate goals? Understanding the goal of the process helps everyone involved. And remember, there are goals every group of stakeholders has that may be separate from yours. Make sure your innovation platform has commenting tools, email submissions, and other ways to work out where goals can overlap.
- What are possible barriers to understanding? These can be simple and easily handled with tools, like multilingual translation, or they can be internal concerns, such as a department not understanding how another functions.
- Who has access to what company resources? One IdeaScale customer had a workforce that didn’t necessarily have access to company laptops or personal computers, so they made use of the platform’s responsive mobile design to ensure the platform worked on private phones and tablets.
- Do some stakeholders have more weight than others? This is particularly pertinent if an idea is popular in a certain department or region but lukewarm in others. That shouldn’t be set aside, but it may need to be separated into its own channel.
- Will some ideas work better together than in isolation? Some ideas aren’t complete on their own or work better when paired with others. IdeaScale includes idea-linking tools to tie together different ideas and any data they’ve collected to help evaluate ideas.
Develop materials and copy that both make the process clear and leave room for discussions and for ideas to be taken elsewhere and worked on. Also, choose a handful of metrics that are most important to your process, and ensure those are front of mind.
Consider a pilot project or “showcase” to demonstrate how the process works. Vancouver Coastal Health Care, for example, launched a project to make their operating room processes more sustainable to a selected 800 practitioners to work on the process before expanding it to their workforce. This helped them work out the process in detail and make it more efficient while creating a demonstration to point to as they expanded.
Using Design To Develop A Fuller Picture
The design of your page should be with interaction and engagement in mind. Engagement is key both to getting better feedback on ideas and encouraging more hesitant members of the team to step in with their thoughts. In turn, this helps you evaluate the need for an idea, its strengths, and any potential challenges to developing it.
For example, the top carousel of your innovation platform might feature a rolling set of ideas you’re either trying to get more visibility on or are trying to assess the popularity of. Knowing who clicks on what idea will help you draw better conclusions about what’s needed.
Another method is to have a scroll of new ideas that pop up on the side as they’re submitted. Especially when idea portals have a high amount of traffic, it’s a good way to stimulate creativity and draw feedback. Create a feed of the most popular ideas, the ones getting the most comments, or popular polls.
Focus on transparency, regardless of how you use these elements. Everyone should know why something’s in the carousel and how the different elements work.
Assessing Ideas Incorporating Stakeholder Interaction
There are a few ways to assess ideas. You can use a simple pass-fail system, create a matrix for yourself and others to rank ideas on a scale, engage in a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, or combine all three.
Over time, you’ll likely find that a more refined approach emerges naturally from working with your organization and as you bring ideas to different stages of production. It will probably use elements of all of the above, and these can be paired with IdeaScale’s tools in ways that draw in more engagement and data:
Use likes for a pass-fail system, where ideas that reach a certain threshold are taken to the next step. This is particularly useful if an idea is popular in some sectors of the company because it helps people advocate for their ideas and see an impact.
Likes are also useful for getting a better sense of what areas of a company are engaged, which aren’t, and the popularity of ideas.
Polls can help answer more targeted questions about an idea or settle questions about specific goals or approaches. Ideally, a poll is one or two questions with short answers. For example, “Would you use this feature?” and “Yes” or “No” are simple to grasp. This can also be useful for pass-fail approaches.
In some cases, you can consider putting ideas head-to-head. This is an excellent way to assess overall popularity, and it can also give you a sense of overall engagement. That said, keep in mind some people are very attached to their ideas, and be sure that their feelings are considered.
Clicking a button only goes so far. Comments allow for more nuance as people consider ideas. Especially when carefully moderated and done respectfully, comments enable teams to discuss the merits and issues around an idea, craft compromises, or even rework ideas to get around those concerns.
Being able to annotate ideas will be useful both for gathering content for matrices and SWOT analyses and for helping to bring out feedback that might not otherwise appear. It also allows your team to get into the meat of the idea and begin thinking about executing it in a more transparent way.
By working with the tools, and your organization, you’ll likely develop your own mix of ideas and approaches. What’s important is that your innovation platform is flexible enough to meet your needs and to grow with your innovation strategy. To see how IdeaScale can help, Request a Demo.