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FreePint BlogTools for collaborative innovation

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"Idea management systems" offer an innovative form of collaboration. A number of tools on the market enable organisations to connect ideas, individuals and unique skills to enable faster development.


A new type of collaboration tool that is quickly emerging is the innovation system, also known as the idea management system, the idea bank, or the enterprise feedback management system (EFM). These may be exclusively internal for staff, or harnessing ideas from customers/clients or even the general public. These provide a way to gather feedback and ideas that may be implemented, bringing the concept of "crowdsourcing" to the enterprise.

When used internally, they offer a means to uncover knowledge and experience that may be hidden throughout the organisation. For example, that accountant in finance may also be a "foodie" who can give some valuable feedback on a new product in the company’s new line of pasta sauces.

In some cases, all ideas may be gathered and prioritised. Then leaders can put up their hands to be in charge of seeing the implementation of a promising ideas come to fruition. In others, specific problems or challenges may be put forward and ideas advancing the solving of those problems or challenges are gathered. These types of systems are particularly useful in R&D or product-related companies.

The first wave of these collaborative innovation systems were home grown by large organisations. One of these is Dell's IdeaStorm. Dell created this platform to make its organisation more open to the public view and bring in fresh ideas. The site has a section called "Storm Sessions" where staff can pose a questions and ask for quick feedback from those inside and outside the company.

Starbucks' originally launched MyStarbucksIdea on its own system, but it is now powered by It takes comments and ideas from customers, asks others to comment and vote on the ideas to help them prioritise. It tracks metrics on the number of ideas received and implemented, assigns points to participants, and even has a leader board tracking the top participants.

Spigit partners with many collaboration tool providers such as Microsoft SharePoint, Yammer and Jive, as well as Facebook to harness the "power of the crowd". There are – as with the other areas – numerous other tools available including Kindling, OneDesk and a range of services from BrainBank.

The challenge in many organisations, however, is changing the mindset along with the tools. In many cases it this requires a complete reinvention of corporate and collaborative culture, which is as hard as innovation itself.

This is a short version of a FreePint Subscription article on the same topic. If you have a FreePint Subscription, you can view the full article now (login required). The full article provides details and commentary on the pros and cons of a number of commerically available tools. 


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