Ideation in the PMO: How to Capitalize on Good Ideas

Learn how to evaluate and prioritize ideas to select the best suggestions for the project execution pipeline.

Ideation is how a company harvests the intellectual capital of teams and people. It’s the modern day ‘suggestion box’ where ideas for improvement are documented.

But too often, good ideas don’t reach the people who could act on them. Many ideas go unnoticed and unspoken. Often, there isn’t even a method for capturing new ideas, much less a process, communication, evaluation and approach for turning them into action.

This is where your project management office (PMO) comes in. As the owner of the project selection and prioritization process, the PMO can tap into the bright ideas from people all over the organization, analyzing and filtering them so the best ones can be turned into the projects that will change how the company works.

This is the process known as Ideation.

The life cycle of an idea.

Ideas are the backbone of ideation. They can come from anywhere: think of all the interactions and knowledge throughout an organization, from water cooler conversations, customer meetings, marketplace trends, and the discovery of an unmet need. Any interaction could be the source of the next big idea.

Ideas have a life cycle – the path from conception to execution, and that can be a long journey. In the book Ideation: The Birth and Death of Ideas1, the authors explain ‘The Innovation Life Cycle’ in these six steps:

1. Innovate: the birth of an idea

2. Register: the first step for every new idea

3. Protect: ensure recognition and reward

4. Develop: improve your idea

5. Value: what is your idea worth?

6. Market: finding investors and customers

The ideation processes systemizes the approach for taking and evaluating new ideas and bringing them to execution.

Ideas lead to improvements.

Here are five areas where ideas can help an organization do better:

  • Improve the ability to delight and deliver value to customers e.g. feedback from customer-facing colleagues
  • Create or maintain a competitive advantage e.g. product feedback and user responses
  • Introduce new products e.g. filling a gap in the market identified by user or customer feedback
  • Improve efficiency e.g. refreshing a process based of suggestions from the people who use it
  • Develop corporate culture e.g. making small (or large) steps towards aligning every part of the organization with the culture

These are all good goals. However, open-ended ideation programs that don’t have the means for evaluation or scoring can result in too many projects that fail to deliver anything worth having.

Good ideas rise to the top

Once you open the door to the ideas, you have to have a way of managing the incoming suggestions, weeding out the nonsensical ones to focus on those that align to business goals.

The PMO is perfectly placed to support the business in this way. It owns the ideation process and guides great ideas through the project portfolio to delivery.

PowerSteering provides a customizable method and tools to evaluate ideas so you focus on the suggestions that have the most potential to benefit the business. Assess potential projects with a simple ranking or automated calculations to work out strategic alignment, financial return and risk. Align your prioritized projects that with resource capacity and you’ve got a clear picture of what the organization should focus on to deliver its strategic objectives – and the governance processes to complete the work.

Want to see how to manage ideation and be able to track, prioritize and accelerate the best suggestions for the project pipeline? Request a demo of Upland PowerSteering.

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