Here is a simple tip to improve the idea flow: A wooden box that will store light-bulb moments for later.
Before our projects become Research & Development and Intellectual Property it begins with an idea. Getting ideas is an essential part of our job, and in order to prompt the creative flow and help ourselves store and select the best ideas, we present you our glorious Idea Box:
It isn't pretty, but that not the important thing. What's important is, that the wooden box is available in our office all the time - the possibility to contribute with a great idea for the next big project is always there.
In order to make it even easier, we've made a simple template for the ideas:
When the idea strikes, whoever gets it simply writes down "Title", "Initials", "Industry", and "Complexity", describes the idea in words and drawings and how it might be commercialized.
Selecting the best ideas
The convenience is in place, but the ideas doesn't just turn into project by adding them to the box.
Once a year we gather for an idea session where we empty the box and talk about all the ideas.
Last time we did it the box had accumulated 35 ideas, and during the session we evaluate the ideas and choose which ones to turn into active project.
By using a sophisticated process where each member places paperclips on the ideas they like the most (the golden paperclips obviously gives more points) we choose 10 ideas to research a little further.
After a little more research on the idea, market potential and competitors we evaluate the potential and available resources and turn a few into active project. Last time 2 of the initial 35 was selected and are now under development.
A small step toward an innovative culture
The wooden box in our office isn't exactly cutting edge technology, but it's visible all the time which helps us remember to articulate our ideas and store them for later.
Along with our idea session the box is a small ingredient that helps us fuel our idea culture: Every member of the team is urged to be innovative, everyone is contributing to the culture and everyone is being heard.
An innovative culture is crucial for our company, but we think a lot of other businesses could benefit from a small, innovative nudge as well. The next great idea might as well come from an intern as from the senior engineer.