The effective management of employees’ ideas encourages people to participate in the organization, beyond the scope of their job. For organizations to sustain success in their markets, and in order to survive, they need to utilize their workforce as effectively as possible particularly by stimulating and implementing employees’ ideas for improvement and innovation. The results not only benefit the organization, but also contribute to employee satisfaction.
Idea management programs can be used to increase the proportion of successfully implemented projects based on ideas contributed voluntarily by employees.
This research highlights that people who come forward with ideas care deeply about their organization. ‘Idea Management’ provides the support such employees need for their expertise and creativity to be recognised, developed and successfully implemented.
The research study showed that with encouragement, employees will voluntarily share ideas that enhance their working environment, and improve the organizations way of working, its products and processes. These programs tend to fall into two categories.
1. Managing ideas for small incremental continuous improvements: Generally initiated by Human Resources departments, this has the benefit and purpose of engaging and involving employees in everyday processes and life of the company. It can achieve easily implemented changes on the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision of the immediate manager.
These ideas can deliver cost savings, or lead to increased customer satisfaction. Perhaps the greatest benefits are happier employees in a good environment, with greater co-operation, better workflows, more efficient processes, fewer errors.
2. Research and Development Initiatives to stimulate big ideas, radical innovations that can fundamentally change how the business operates or the type of products it produces. Within the framework of the system, anyone can propose deas, whether they are sales people, administrative staff or technical experts.
Concept development often requires a lengthy process of analysis and development to assess feasibility. The decision making process therefore lies outside the scope of the idea owner.
In terms of the management of the idea generation process, the leadership style favoured by the immediate managers of the idea owners has no apparent direct influence on the quantity of ideas generated.
Whether employees truly commit themselves to the goals of an idea management program and are interested in making personal contributions to it is influenced by leadership style.
Methodology: This paper was based on data covering 12 years of idea management experiences within four large multinational organizations.
PhD Thesis Idea Management perspectives from leadership learning and network theory, publ part of Erasmus Research Inst of Management (ERIM) PhD series, Research in Management.
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