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In order for your business to succeed you need employees that care. An engaged team will put thought and effort into building the company, helping to generate clever ideas and innovative developments.

New ideas from your team should always be welcomed, regardless of the direction they seem to be following. However it is up to you to create an environment that stimulates a thinking and engaged team. Not all your employees think alike; some will focus on product ideas whereas others will excel at business development. Learn to nurture their individual skill sets in order to foster idea generation.

Idea Management

Knowing Where The Ideas Are

Focusing on growth, creation and productivity can help develop your company. But where can you find hidden ideas to help you move forward? Innovation is a key aspect, but what is essential is the collaborative management of ideas.

Through collaboration, employees become more responsible, which helps the team as a whole generate good ideas. When creative employees are rewarded for their efforts, it stimulates the rest of your team to collaborate and foster new ideas. Promote an open collaborative process, and actively encourage your employees to communicate and work together.

Useful Tools

Structuring how you manage ideas is crucial to the success of any project. The process should include management, selection and sharing of innovative ideas. To help you achieve that, you can use several technologies, like task management applications, for a more efficient process.

Such management applications can be useful in various contexts, involving the entire company system, including partners and customers. Fostered idea generation such as this helps increase synergy between employees, allowing ideas to be shared more efficiently.

Creating An Innovative Environment

Your team will need to feel at ease with idea sharing. By valuing every contribution and giving your team the necessary time to stimulate new ideas, you will help them to become more creative and innovative. Take time to provide positive and constructive feedback, and help them learn from each experience.

Ideas can foster through “contamination”. Innovation breeds innovation, and by actively encouraging ideas and following through until these ideas become a reality, more of your team will be motivated to come forward with their own thoughts. Over time, your team will learn to appreciate your selection process and understand your expectations.

Group work is particularly stimulating for idea generation. Everyone has specific talents, and brainstorming sessions help to pool a mix of thoughts. If your team becomes involved in an idea and actively defend it, they will be more motivated to see it through to creation.

Idea Generation Process

Ideas can be born at any moment, in any situation, but certain environments and procedures can help the process develop.

Set the stage

Define your objectives and several scenarios. Generating ideas is a positive step, and you should congratulate people who take the initiative to do so. However, these ideas should relate to your company’s needs. If your team is focusing on the wrong area, generated ideas will be useless to you.

By communicating with your team and letting them know what you expect from them in relation to the company needs, they will then focus on the necessary aspects. Explain the problem, tell them what the goal is and they then have the information needed to try and come up with a solution.

Let creativity flow

This is the most important yet most unpredictable step: the generation of ideas. At this stage you will be presented with a list of loose ideas, some of which will have been carefully considered, whereas others will be just thoughts on a page.

The more ideas you have at this point, the better. It can make the next step harder, but is generally more successful if you have a large pool of ideas to dip into.

Select the best

The third step is the selection process. Some ideas will immediately jump out as possessing the necessary factors to succeed, whereas others will take more careful thought and understanding. At this stage be careful not to dismiss any idea too quickly, as you may miss some hidden gems.

At this point, encourage further collaboration. Talk with people and decide together what will work best for the company. Of course in the end, you make the decision, but the process needs to be interactive.

Once you have shortlisted a few ideas, talk with everybody involved. Discuss your reasons for selecting some, and rejecting others. Be clear in your feedback, so that the team can use it as a learning experience for the future.

Everybody involved should gain experience through how you made your final selections. Sometimes at this stage, these discussions can also generate yet more ideas that could work even better than the original ideas.

Adding the extra touches

Know The People Involved

By fostering idea generation through intensive collaborative relationships, you are also strongly involved in the process. By participating in innovation initiative, it’s important you know your team’s strengths and skill sets. With this knowledge you will be able to outline the best strategy possible.

Try also to understand the dynamics within the company, and use those to your advantage. Take the time to learn who works well together, and who clashes, and always keep notes of what worked well on particular projects. You can use this knowledge to improve future tasks.

You may also find it beneficial to actively encourage certain conflict and disagreement, in order to stimulate further discussion and generation of ideas!

Communicate Cleverly

You are not simply leaving an idea box on the desk, you are creating a team of thinkers. Use all the tools you can to communicate with them, online and offline. Emails and documents can prove useful, but they have limitations. You have to mix online and offline communication in order to help your team to feel involved.

Quality counts

It may be that you have 100 ideas and only produce one solution. Or maybe your team think of five points, all of which can be used in the future. The quality of the the process is more important than the quantity of thoughts, although the more quality ideas you have, the better.

However, If you only have one idea which goes on to increase your turnover by 100%, then it is clear that the fostering of new ideas has still been a major success.

The real value in idea generation through a synergy is the interaction between employees, and the connections and increased engagement that is then created. Mixing your team will often help increase productivity through collaboration, and the generation of new ideas.

Collaboration: the gateway to successful idea generation

Generation of powerful ideas should never be seen as a talent that only some possess. If cultivated properly, all members of your team can learn how to stimulate new ideas.

Challenge yourself and your team constantly, and provide them with the environment that allows them to grow. Innovative ideas are often the results of a collaboration process created by individuals, and not the result of a single person.

Mattias Le Cren
Content marketing & growth hacking advocate. I'm heavily into tech and football. Ping me on twitter: @lecrenm
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