Any Suggestions?

Katherine William-Powlett shares her thoughts on innovation and on leadership in the voluntary sector. Katherine no longer works for NCVO but her posts have been archived on this site.

In the light of the Government’s recent ‘Spending Challenge’  BBC News  I’ve been thinking about the qualities of good (and bad) suggestions schemes.    Many organisations instigate some kind of suggestions box to encourage innovation, but done badly this can be counter-productive.  Read on to find out what makes a good scheme and how you can benefit from ideas management software.

Suggestions boxes often don’t work and the word gets around that the organisation is not innovative but simply paying lip service.

I think these are the qualities of a good staff suggestions scheme:

1. Openness – all staff should be able to see and comment on ideas and know why some are adopted and others rejected/ shelved.  This publicises the fact that ideas are welcomed and valued.

2. Clarity – the process by which ideas are submitted should be clear – criteria on which ideas are assessed should be publicised and the ideas should be evaluated on those criteria.

3. Feedback – all ideas should receive feedback, whether they are adopted or not. Those whose ideas are not taken up will be unlikely to submit any further ideas if they do not know or understand why their idea was rejected.

4. Recognition – financial reward is not necessary and can be divisive or seem a token gesture – for many, recognition of and implementation of their idea is reward enough.

5. Implementation -Implementing ideas and informing staff of implementation is important as people will not submit ideas if they see no previous winners being implemented.  Also implementation in itself is a reward.

Most of these qualities can be realised with good ideas management software.

Cisco talk here about using Spigit software to manage staff suggestions. Spigit rewards those who comment on and rate ideas with status and points which can then be used to e.g. buy time to develop the ideas.  One of the most popular ways of recognising ideas is to implement them so building a process for implementation into ideas management software must be right.

Orange Mobile volunteering is running an open innovation competition using Chaordix.  The public submit ideas for using mobile phones to volunteer e.g. by photographing and tagging places to play.

With so much help out there, there is no excuse for a tired old suggestions box – the software could help you find the next big idea from beyond your staff.

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