How Digital Idea Boards Accelerate Innovation

digital idea boardsWe’ve written before about the reasons that traditional suggestion boxes rarely result in lasting positive change. The biggest problem is that they are just a passive receptacle for employee ideas without any structure for ensuring that every suggestion is evaluated and many are implemented. Fortunately, there is a modern alternative that is helping companies in every industry achieve continuous daily improvement and even a few breakthrough ideas. Digital idea boards are the ideal alternative to suggestion boxes or improvement spreadsheets.

Here’s how they make innovation happen faster.

Employees Know That Ideas are Welcome

Chances are that there are people in your organization who have excellent ideas about how to resolve some of your most vexing problems. Unfortunately, most people won’t come forward with their brainchild if they aren’t asked for it. Putting your suggestions out there can feel risky, and it is a common belief that management simply won’t care. Implementing a digital idea board is an effective way to let everyone know that not only do you want their ideas but that you are willing to invest in ways to manage and implement them. Nothing sends a clearer signal that innovation is a team sport.

Alerts and Notifications Keep Everyone Engaged

In addition to the suggestion box, we’ve seen other analog attempts to collect employee input. Idea boards on walls, spreadsheets, and email addresses have all been used to gather recommendations. The challenge with each of these approaches is that they don’t automatically kick off a workflow that ensures each idea is evaluated by the right person. If an idea does get selected for implementation, those basic tools don’t provide support for getting it done. Digital idea boards are an alternative that comes complete with alerts and notifications to ensure that the responsible person is alerted when an idea is entered and that everyone who is assigned a task gets a notification when it is due. Alerts also keep managers apprised about missed dates so that action can be taken to ensure that progress never stalls.

Management Can Track Projects

While most improvement projects are executed on the team or department level, the leaders of the organization need to be kept apprised of the pace and health of innovation across the entire organization. That’s tough to do with physical idea boards or multiple suggestion boxes. However, digital idea boards make it possible for the executive team to have visibility into what is happening in every group.

People Can Participate from Everywhere

These days, organizations are becoming more distributed. It is common for some or all team members to work from home, and many companies have multiple office sites. In the same way that other business applications like CRM and HR systems have moved to the cloud to increase accessibility and support modern work, cloud-based digital idea boards invite participation from any location, at any time.

Cross-functional Collaboration is Streamlined

Our clients have often discovered that the sweet spot for innovation is the point at which work or processes cross from one group or department to another. It’s at this point where people often find friction that results in defects or other types of waste. Solutions to these issues require breaking down the silos that inhibit cooperation and positive change. Digital idea boards make it easy for teams to work together and give everyone insight into what is happening in each department.

Past Improvement Projects are Available for Reference

Each improvement project should be considered a learning opportunity. The organization should get smarter every time innovation is attempted, even if it doesn’t achieve the stated goals. That’s only possible if information about each project is retained and available for future reference. Ideas that are gathered today can be compared with what’s already been tried so that best practices can be applied, and mistakes can be avoided. Digital idea boards are heads above all off-line solutions when it comes to data retention and search.

The Results of Innovation Are Measured

The only way to get employees and executives alike excited about innovation is to measure and report the results of employee ideas that get implemented. That’s why you should look for an online idea board solution that includes impact measurement. Keep in mind that not all results are financial. Metrics such as customer satisfaction, safety, employee engagement, and productivity should be considered.

Success is Broadcast

When people notice that their peers are being recognized for their contribution to innovation, they are more likely to submit their own proposals. Idea management solutions that give leaders the option to broadcast successful improvements go a long way toward creating a snowball of innovation.

Innovation within your organization shouldn’t be an event or a duty that is only undertaken by the R&D department. With a digital idea board solution, you can create the conditions to harvest the best ideas and ensure they get effectively executed.