Do ideas come from free-flowing environments filled with the soothing sounds of water falling around you or charm of acoustic music and tantalizing smells of coffee? Or do they arrive around structured processes that organize and discuss as the ideas are marched forward like idea management systems would suggest? More than likely, it’s a combination of both.
As we know creative ideas always sneak up on you at the most unexpected time. If they didn’t, water proof sticky-notes wouldn’t be such a hit. It’s not just a process; there is real science behind why stepping away from a structured environment associated with one part of your life or activity loosens you up for thinking outside the confines.
Interestingly enough, when both of those methods fail, sometimes it takes an outsider or student to come along and ask the innocent questions which lead to bigger things. Lauren Arrington did just that when she lent her natural curiosity to marine scientists when she asked, “What levels of salinity can the lionfish survive in?” A six grade science project later, she’s cited in the acknowledgements in a published, peer review study that has revolutionized the way the scientists think about the invasive lionfish.
Although Lauren stopped before the fish could be injured by a low salinity level, the impact of her creative idea did not. Her science fair project inspired Craig Layman, an ecology professor at North Carolina State University, to look further into the matter, expanding on her research, and publishing field rocking results.
This reminds us that is important to remember that, creative ideas are just ideas until they are acted on. That’s where idea management comes in to push it just a little further — whether that’s into the marketplace, into a “think about” container, or straight into the trash bin. Idea management can be the yin to the yang of idea creation, and it has the ability to get a team excited and on the same page to make that shower inspired idea happen.
Nosco, an idea management software and service company, notes that a wide variety of companies use idea management to bolster the sales of existing products, not for idea generation and product development. However, they falter when it comes to sustaining momentum through implementation. Why? Ask Nosco points out, organizations that plan to use an idea management system or tools from the front end of a new project or service should also ensure that those tools can be fully integrated into the community, product life, and project management tools.
The big picture states that we should gather ideas when they strike, invite outside views, and then find a idea management structure that works with our business culture. When this is done, the best and brightest should shine through from idea generation through the product or services cycle and maybe even beyond.