Every business entity understands how imperative it is to innovate. You gather a few designated personnel and produce concepts that take your innovation performance to the next level.
However, as you conduct the ideation process, you realize that gathering plenty of ideas matters a lot as not all generated ones are viable.
With this, how do you determine which concepts are worth doing? How do you avoid wasting all your time and resources on executing the wrong idea?
In this article, we will discuss one of the most indispensable ways in identifying the right concepts among your pool of ideas — the idea management funnel.
Let’s get started.
What is an idea management funnel?
Great ideas are vital in the growth, development, and survival of every organization. This enormous contribution is the reason why ideas are essential to every company.
However, as the demands and expectations of the customers continually evolve in response to the changes happening in the technological and economic landscape, finding the right ideas has now become a challenge.
Institutions must continuously generate plenty of ideas and create a series of actions that separate the best ideas from those without business value. This chain of processes is called the idea management funnel.
Why is it important?
Ideas are the bedrock of innovation. As these ideas come from both the inside and outside of the organization, these ideas may be diverse, providing different perspectives in addressing problems and opportunities.
Once these ideas get scrutinized and refined, valuable solutions and results happen, creating groundbreaking developments for the business.
As this outcome is what companies envision for themselves, they incorporate the idea management funnel into their primary processes, which is a mechanism that screens ideas for viability.
It determines which ideas are realistic, optimal, and innovative enough to implement. It examines every idea and refines them to the core. More importantly, an idea management funnel filters out weak concepts.
It is a rigorous process that helps businesses in:
- Choosing the best projects to execute
- Saving costs and other resources with the enhancement of existing workflows
- Analyzing opportunities through customer-driven data for a new product line or extension
- Aligning ideas on the values and strategies of the company
As you may know, there are different models of an innovation funnel. We talked more about each model in our innovation funnel article. Check it out if you want to read more about it.
What are the usual processes involved in an idea management funnel?
An idea management funnel involves several processes, including:
1. Submission of Ideas
Innovation begins with the ideation process. Traditionally, brainstorming sessions are the go-to method of people aiming to produce top-notch concepts for the company.
But there are plenty of ideas to kickstart your idea generation process other than that. There’s storyboarding, mind mapping, SCAMPER method, role-playing, conducting idea challenges, and a whole lot more.
However, knowing how saturated the market is and how rival companies perform in terms of innovation might make it difficult for your organization to generate high-quality ideas.
Regardless, whatever method you choose, create a systematic idea generation process to increase your chances of innovation success.
You can do it in two easy steps:
- Understand the type of ideation process that fits your team best. If you want to do it with a few select people, you can stick to brainstorming sessions with your desired participants. However, if you like to make it diverse, you can opt for other ways. Decide which method you want to go for, including all the necessary details of your idea generation activity, such as the topic, location, and time.
- Upon starting the activity, remind the participants that all suggestions are welcome, and discussion will follow afterward. Don’t forget to throw them some follow-up questions for refinement and inspiration.
2. Selection and Approval of Ideas
The ideation process results in a lot of concepts to discuss within the group. For instance, if a single brainstorming session has ten participants and all of them submitted ten ideas, then that would be a hundred suggestions for the group to review on.
Such a number signifies how time-consuming and scrupulous this whole procedure can be.
Knowing how the selection and approval of ideas can get, technology could help make things easier. Documenting these ideas can be taxing for innovation leaders as summarizing these concepts is necessary to avoid redundant or duplicate suggestions.
Idea management platforms instinctively categorize concepts and save innovation leaders a massive amount of time. The innovation team can also examine all the ideas and rate them according to a set of criteria designed by the management or the innovation leader.
Identifying suggestions with the most and the least number of votes becomes quicker and easier so designated authorities can directly decide whether the company keeps, refines, or discards these ideas.
After which, proceed to the details of these suggestions. Be sure to take strategic fit, feasibility, customer benefit, competitive factor, and differentiation potential into consideration in the selection process.
3. Creation of the Proposal
Now that you have chosen the most viable ideas, it’s time to make the project proposal — the document that summarizes everything your stakeholders need to know and understand about your proposed innovation project.
Remember that this proposal is essential to get your project started, so it must be as persuasive and informative as possible. Creating this document involves the use of data analysis, research, and even copywriting.
What comprises a proposal?
Most project proposals contain the following parts:
- Executive Summary: Introduce both the problem and the solution. Indicate how your project intends to solve the specified issue and how your project can contribute to the growth and success of the brand.
- History and Background: Write a quick rundown of related projects from both inside and outside of the company. What makes your project better than the previous or even existing ones? Is there anything that your project can provide for the industry?
- Requirements: List down the materials, must-haves, and other necessities that the project life cycle calls for, especially in terms of tools, resources, and schedule.
- Other Details: Explain how the project will go from start to completion. Include the steps in the project management, as well as the techniques and skills that are necessary to perform the innovation efficiently. Mention the possible challenges of the project and how you plan to manage them.
- Authorization: Identify the persons that you need approval from to decide on changes and other required resolutions.
Tips in Writing the Proposal
The following pointers can help you make an ideal project proposal:
- Define the problem clearly and briefly with facts. Decision-makers usually don’t have the time to review the entire document. Be direct in a resonating manner.
- Be prepared for some questions and objections about your proposal and include some answers if possible.
- Specify your deliverables and success benchmarks.
- Include mitigation strategies.
- Check for spelling and grammar errors, including the tone and language of the proposal. Make it simple, readable, and professional.
What happens when the project gets approved?
Once that happens, the idea becomes an innovation project, and the implementation process begins.
As the project starts, an innovation sprint begins to elaborate the project. The innovation director maintains and updates the program roadmap according to the insights and periodic alignment of the designated stakeholders.
The Idea Management Funnel and the Innovation Stage Process
Using an idea management funnel is crucial in performing a successful innovation stage process. Your ideas serve as the foundation of the entire innovation, directly affecting the possible results.
It is also the second part of the innovation stage process, where the organization decides on the most optimal solution to execute. Moreover, the entire innovation process must be practical.
On that note, here is Accept Mission’s innovation stage process:
- Problem Finding: Many organizations skip the first stage, but this step is indispensable in the success of the innovation process. Most of them leave this procedure out not because they don’t consider it pivotal, but because they find it more productive to search for the best solution.
- Solution Finding: This stage is where companies generate all the ideas possible to address and resolve the challenge presented in the first step. Solution finding works best when every angle of the issue gets tackled, so involving a diverse group composed of customers, employees, stakeholders, and other internal and external parties is ideal.
- Experiment: The experiment phase tests the concept in a specific variant to distinguish problems and pinpoint where improvements are imperative. In this part, innovation teams include technicalities like feasibility and legal regulations.
- Business Case: Once the experiment becomes successful, the innovation leader makes a business case with the complete financial aspects. The results of conducted tests combined with the business case compose the approach utilized in developing the innovation in full.
- Development: Considering the previous steps of the innovation stage process, the team can now perform the innovation with a clear path. Organizations commonly use the waterfall method with a definite result in mind or other flexible development mechanisms like Agile, Scrum, or Lean with uncertain outcomes. Either way, a target group, a set of stakeholders, and other authorized people will validate the results.
- Delivery: Finish implementing the solution within the target date. Give all the deliverables and make sure that every user value reaches a score of 8 or even higher. Traditionally, the innovation team carries out a pilot test before delivering the actual products to the customers.
If you want to read more about it, we actually published an ultimate guide to idea management, which you can download from our website for free.