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Removing Barriers for Idea Submission: Communication

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By: Steven Telio,
Director of Product Management at ideaPoint

Barrier 2: Ongoing
Communication / Communication Plan

'Why is the organization soliciting ideas'?
'Because I don't work directly for your organization, I want
to know what's happening with my idea. I'd hate to submit it and never hear
about it again.'
'Will you be willing to share the results of the innovation
process so far? Even with people external to your organization'?
Innovation programs have a history of launching with a bang
and fading away with a whimper. Long-time employees or potential idea
submitters from outside your organization who have seen this cycle before may
be reluctant to invest their time and intellectual capital in a submission
unless they know the organization has made a commitment and will actually
follow-through. Sponsored Hackathons and IdeaFests, while great at creating
buzz around the event, can strengthen the skepticism that an organization is
not serious about implementing ideas when participants do not hear about the
results nor do they receive any sort of follow-up after a submission has been
Mitigation: Provide ongoing communication about the overall
goals and successes of the innovation program to everyone who participates,
regardless of whether the person is internal or external to the organization.
Use this as an opportunity to reinforce what is entailed in the process, and
details about the process itself. Dramatize the successes to encourage future
' Once an idea has been submitted, use technology to
facilitate decision making, routing items to the appropriate people and
enforcing a stage-gate process, while enabling enough transparency for the
submitter to know the status of their idea at any given time.
' Ensure the submitter has a way to check on the status of
their submission. Where is it in the process? Has it passed a particular milestone?
When is the next decision point? Better yet, through effective use of
technology provide a single system which can provide a comprehensive view to
the submitter. And be sure not to limit access to the system to only people
behind the firewall; external participants need this access even more than
internal ones, since the external submitters cannot simply ask someone within
the organization.
' A beneficial side-effect of increased transparency:
submitters will be confident that their idea is getting the attention it
deserves. It also increases the likelihood that they will submit other ideas in
the future because they have increased confidence in the overall process.
' When a submission does end up passing significant
milestones, recognize that achievement, either by alerting the submitter, the
organization as a whole, or the community in general. For example, when an
invention that was licensed from an external source then incubated in-house is
ready to go to market, hype the fact that it was the result of a collaborative
innovation process. Success breeds success.
' Finally, showing that the innovation process really does
work and can have real-world, bottom line results will help ensure that the
process itself can make a strong case for maintaining or increasing existing
funding levels.

This is the fourth
post in a series of blogs titled 'Removing Barriers for Idea Submission.' Each
blog will address different barriers, and challenges that innovation programs
are faced with. For further information about a software solution to streamline
your process for gathering ideas and accelerating innovations, visit or contact Pat
McWilliams (

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