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Collecting Ideas


This best practice offers guidelines, considerations, and techniques for maximizing this collection effort, whether via online idea campaigns, face-to-face brainstorming, or both. 

Collecting Ideas

The collection phase of an idea campaign is focused on collecting the most ideas. Later in the process, there are approaches to help select the best ideas (that is, those that are aligned with business objectives and/or present a unique value opportunity).

Finding successful ideas starts with engaging a wide audience and creating an environment where people feel comfortable contributing. It is important to be inclusive — that is, to include people from all parts of the organization, and external to the organization. An idea campaign that only includes management is limited indeed. Some of the best ideas can come from those unfamiliar with a process, or — to the opposite extreme — those close to the action and much more familiar than any manager would be.

Idea collection can happen in face-to-face brainstorming sessions, online campaigns, or a combination of the two. When face-to-face, there are a number of techniques that can generate hundreds of ideas in a relatively short period of time. One example is the Crawford Slip technique. In this approach, people write ideas on sticky labels to generate as many ideas as they can in response to a specific question or challenge, often in multiple rounds. For instance, given the challenge of how to increase sales, people can be asked to take 15 minutes to write their top 5 ideas. Then, there can be several more rounds of the same question, in which they cannot restate their previous ideas. The ideas can be collected and added to the idea bank, where they can be assessed in a separate process.

Brain-writing is another effective technique for face-to-face meetings. With Brain-writing, people walk around the room and contribute ideas via sticky labels to one or more flip charts, each chart with one central question (i.e. How can we improve our order collection process?). This also gets people moving around, which has been proven to stimulate creative thinking. Increasingly, online ideation is gaining favor as well, either instead of, or in addition to face-to-face brainstorming.

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