Where Do Great Ideas Come From?

If you are like me, you get ideas for all sorts of things all the time. And these ideas can be personal or professional:  new businesses, redecorating your living room, an improved process at work, a fun way to spend time with your family.

If we go by the assumption that each of us has at least one good idea each week, then the total number of ideas for improving products, customer experiences, operating efficiency, and culture within your organization is enormous.

But how does an organization find new ideas, socialize them, chose those worthy of investment of time or money, and ultimate act upon them?

This is the process known as Ideation.where do ideas come from

Ideation is how a company harvests the intellectual capital of teams and people, regardless of their role in the organization. Think of ideation as the modern day “suggestion box,” where ideas for improvement are documented. And were do ideas come from? Think of all the interactions and knowledge throughout an organization, from water cooler conversations, customer meetings, marketplace trends, and the discover of some unmet need. Any interaction could be the source of that latest great idea.

The challenge, however, for many organizations is that many ideas go unnoticed and unspoken. Often, there is no method for capturing new ideas, much less a process, communication, evaluation and turning them into action.

Ideas are the backbone of ideation, and they have a life cycle – that path from conception to execution, that can be a long journey. One example of this called “The Innovation Life Cycle” can be found in the book “Ideation: The Birth and Death of Ideas:[i]

Innovate:  the birth of an idea
Register:  the first step for every new idea
Protect:  ensure recognition and reward
Develop:  improve your idea
Value:  what is your idea worth?
Market:  finding investors and customers

Ideation is the broad ranging and diverse business discipline that systematizes the process for taking new ideas and bringing them to execution. In a nutshell, Ideation is about the fundamental question, “how and where can we do better?”

What are some areas where ideas can help an organization do better?

  • Improve ability to delight and deliver value to customers
  • Create or maintain a competitive advantage
  • New products
  • Improving efficiency
  • Changing corporate culture

These are all good goals, however to be effective, a successful ideation program must follow a structured process. Open ended ideation programs that do not have the means for evaluation or scoring may result in too many nonsensical ideas which do not align to business goals.

And many organizations are hesitant to begin an ideation program. Not every idea is worthy of consideration. Not every idea will succeed, in fact, many will fail even after it has progressed into a project. The fear of failure can be an effective motivator into not doing something.

But a good ideation process will find those suggestions that have the most potential to be beneficial. It will include an analysis and scoring to determine the viability and suitability within company strategy, culture, and resources. And ultimately, a company’s ideation program will have the ability to turn the nascent idea into a project that can be planned, scheduled, and acted upon.

Want to learn more about Ideation and how to create a successful program in your organization? Be sure to view the webinar “A Vision for Ideation – Connecting Strategy to Execution.” In less than an hour, you will learn the key factors, how to quantify ideas, the Upland Ideation process, and how to systematize ideation. This webinar is on-demand and can be viewed at any time.

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About Eric Feldman

Eric Feldman is the Senior Marketing Strategist for Enterprise IT Solutions at Upland Software. He has over 20 year’s experience working with IT Financial Management, IT Service Management and Project and Portfolio Management solutions.

Eric has an MBA from the LIU Post Campus of Long Island University.


[i] Graham, D and Bachmann, T., (2004) Ideation: The Birth and Death of Ideas. John Wiley and Sons Inc.

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View the webinar “A Vision for Ideation – Connecting Strategy to Execution."