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35 Ways to Use Idea Management Software to Drive Business Results

Every new innovation, be it a product, a service, or an improvement, always starts from an idea.

That is both a blessing and a curse for us at Viima. That means that there’s obviously a wide variety of ways companies can benefit from using our idea management software, which provides us with tons of interesting opportunities.

A systematic and well ran idea management process can help companies to, for example, save time and costs, become more efficient and effective, make customers more satisfied and sell more. A good software tool helps shape and run these processes more efficiently and effectively, as well as helps in analyzing and improving them.

The downside of this flexibility is that it can sometimes make it difficult for our customers to know where to start from, or to realize how much potential the tool, together with the right processes, really has for helping them drive business results.

So, to help you realize the full potential of a systematic approach to idea management, we’ve created a list of some of the creative ways our customers are using Viima to drive all kinds of innovation to improve their bottom line. 

You’ll find the list, along with a brief explanation of what the benefits are for each activity, below.

The list is quite extensive, so while you certainly can read through it in one go, it’s perhaps best referred to as a field manual that you might want to revisit at different times.

So, without further ado, let’s get to it.

1. Process improvement

Every organization has plenty of business processes. Sales and operations, customer service, HR, finance, administration, these are all examples of functions where most companies have standardized the way they work. Sometimes formally, but often also informally.

These processes were all created for a reason but very few of them are perfect. Many of them haven’t been adapted when there have been changes in the business. And even with the ones that have been, there’s always room for improvement.

Process improvement

There are typically plenty of opportunities where even minor adjustments could lead to significant savings in cost or time. The beauty of addressing these low-hanging fruits is that the benefits compound, which leads to a significant impact for almost any business.

So, if you’re not sure where to start with idea management, asking your employees how they’d improve the current processes related to their own work is a brilliant way to do that.

It’s guaranteed to lead to useful and practical opportunities for improvement and is something everyone can relate to. 

2. Product improvement

Just like processes, no product is ever perfect.

Every company with products also knows that there are far more ideas for improvement than can be implemented.

The key lies in systematically collecting those ideas from both employees and customers as they are best positioned to identify the best sources for improvement. This ensures that good ideas don’t fall through the cracks.

The right software can also be very helpful in evaluating and prioritizing the ideas to make sure the right ones are chosen for implementation.

3. Ideas for new products to existing customers

Ask your salespeople or customer service representatives and they can almost certainly provide you with a list of needs and unsolved problems their customers have that you’re unable to address with your existing products.

Thus, asking those frontline employees to come up with new product ideas to solve those needs is a great way to come up with new business opportunities.

As it’s always easier to sell more to existing customers than it is to find new customers, this can be a very effective way to grow the business.

New products for existing customers

4. Ideas for new services to existing customers

Just like with the new product ideas we just talked about, the unsolved needs and problems of your existing customers are a great starting point for introducing new services too.

Often many of those needs can be addressed with very little effort and upfront investment. Thus, these services can not only be highly profitable, but also help significantly improve customer satisfaction. 

5. Identifying new customer segments for existing products and services

Many of the fastest growing products and services in the world were first created for a very specific customer segment.

Facebook started off as a social network just for Harvard students. Amazon started as just an online store for books. Slack was a chat room for engineering teams.

New customers segments are a great way to grow

While these are a few of the most famous examples of such cases, there are many more. These companies have gradually expanded by finding ways to use their existing products and technology to serve new customer segments.

Ask your employees and you’re guaranteed to find new and creative ways for using what you already have to expand your business to new markets. Many of those ideas surely won’t make much financial sense, but some certainly will. 

6. Identifying new geographic markets to enter

If you have superior products or services, it probably makes sense for you to expand to new geographic markets to make the most out of your competitive advantage.

However, entering new geographic markets is tough. It’s typically very capital intensive and there’s a large risk in failing to adapt to the local business culture and/or requirements.

Again, your employees can be a great source of ideas here since they might have connections or experience from different markets. This experience can be invaluable in helping you identify and choose the most applicable markets, but even more importantly, to also succeed in entering them. 

7. Ideas for new products or services to a new customer segment

With the rate at which entire industries are being disrupted at an all high, many companies find themselves in a tough position. They might be in a diminishing market with products and services that are no longer competitive.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation like this, you have little choice but to try to innovate new products and services and to find entirely new markets to enter with those.

Future opportunities for new products in new segments

This is an extremely difficult position made worse by the fact that companies in this situation rarely have much resources left to invest in innovation. If this is the case, you really need to pull everyone together and try to come up with ideas that could best harness the existing strengths and resources of the organization.

However, even more important than the ideas themselves is engaging everyone in the battle for survival. By being transparent and engaging everyone in the process to find the right solutions to this challenge, you’ll maximize your chances of having employees buy-in and commit to saving the company.

8. Ideas for saving resources or materials

Every process will always have waste, that’s why we don’t have a perpetual motion machine.

However, most companies are wasting much more resources (including money) and materials than they realize. As an example, as much as half of all food produced globally never gets consumed.

Nearly half of all food produced globally goes to waste

Not only does waste have a significant impact on sustainability, it often has a huge financial impact for the bottom-line of many companies. Every dollar saved in reducing waste is, after all, a dollar that goes directly towards the profitability of the organization.

Thus, reducing waste is something every organization should look to do in a systematic fashion.

Employees are again a great source of ideas here. It’s often quite difficult for management to pinpoint the areas where waste really happens, but the frontline employees who deal with the waste know that all too well and would be delighted to help reduce waste and save resources for something useful instead.

9. Ideas for saving time

Just like resources, organizations waste a tremendous amount of time on all kinds process inefficiencies and unimportant matters.

At a rather typical large company, it was reported that managers lost more than 20% of their working time annually simply to poor practices in arranging meetings, which doesn’t even include the time spent in the meetings which accounted for an additional 50% of total working time. A simple issue, like this, results directly in, at the very least, seven figure losses for the company annually.

However, the total cost is likely more than double that due to indirect costs. As every company is looking to make a profit, it is fair to assume that the work the employees do would create more value than their time costs the company. However, when time gets wasted, that value goes directly to zero.

Poorly arranged meetings are very expensive

And just like with material waste, it’s often difficult to pinpoint the areas where time gets wasted, or where it could be saved, from the top.

For example, early on in my career, I was responsible for a project where a lot of data from multiple stakeholders was being moved around in non-standard formats.

Fixing the myriad of errors in the data resulted in a lot of manual work for me, which I didn’t find very exciting. Since I wanted to use my time doing something more worthwhile, I proceeded to build a set of alerts that taught the stakeholders to fix those errors at the source, which eliminated almost all of the manual work for all involved parties.

These few simple alerts ended saving hundreds of hours of work every year going forward, which allowed me to focus on other projects, while also making the system more reliable and robust.

Most employees would be delighted to eliminate these kinds of boring routine tasks from their work, but not all of them have the ability, or the permission to do so. Working with them to identify and fix these kinds of inefficiencies will lead to huge increases in productivity, but also employee engagement. 

10. Minimizing the number of faults and defects in products

Anyone who’s ever worked with products knows that high defect rates are the root cause for a myriad of issues.

Not only do they affect the bottom line directly through waste or discounts, but they also reduce the production capacity needed to support and grow the business, lead to decreased customer satisfaction and subject the company to liability issues and other legal challenges.

Thus, it shouldn’t be a surprise that different methods, such as Lean Six Sigma, that seek to systematically find ways to lower defect rates have become so popular in the last couple of decades.

These methods often rely on a collaborative team effort for finding and fixing such issues. However, especially in the beginning of the journey, there are far more issues than can be addressed, which is why it’s crucial to systematically collect these findings and then evaluate and prioritize them to find the ones with the most improvement potential.

That’s where the use of a tool like Viima can be very helpful as it not just helps with the work but also contributes to the cultural transformation.

11. Minimizing the number of errors in services

Errors in services subject the company to virtually all the same challenges that defects in products do.

To make things worse, bad customer experiences and service often seems to have an even bigger impact on customer satisfaction than simple defects do. The best employees usually know this, and as a result, are often forced to intervene when they spot bad customer service.

This naturally takes away from the time they could use to proactively develop the business, which is a huge missed opportunity for the organization.

Thus, companies would do wisely to take the same systematic approach to minimizing the number of errors in their services as most already do towards minimizing the number of defects.

12. Ideas for increasing sales results

Companies live or die based on their sales results. Even if the company does everything else right, but simply isn’t very good at sales, it won’t succeed. On the other hand, even a mediocre product can be a tremendous success in the hands of the right sales organization.

The beauty of managing sales is that even minor changes, which are usually very affordable and quite straightforward to implement, can lead to significant improvements in top line growth.

The sales process has a big impact on the top and bottom lines

Most companies have experienced and very capable sales managers who take a very systematic approach to leading sales by the numbers. However, even so, they might still not be aware of many of the intricate challenges that the individual reps face out in the field.

The challenge, thus, lies in identifying these kinds of opportunities for improvement and finding ways to pilot and keep track of their effectiveness.

The best way to do that is to have a system in place for individual sales reps to log their challenges, opportunities and insights in the form of improvement ideas. By addressing these one by one, the sales results are bound to improve.

13. Identifying the biggest or most frequent problems our customers have

No matter how good your products or services are, your customers are always going to have problems, either because your products or services weren’t good enough, or because they weren’t even designed to solve all of the problems your customers might have.

Either way, the problems your customers have are a huge treasure trove of ideas for developing your business.

By fixing the problems in your existing products or improving them, you can increase customer satisfaction and retention, both of which are key for a sustainably successful business.

What’s more, if your customers trust you, they will share some of the challenges they’d love to see you solve in the future. These can be tremendous opportunities for business expansion as it’s always easier to sell more to customers who already trust you, than it is to find new customers and build relationships with them.

So, systematically collecting the problems and challenges your customers have, either by asking them directly, or by listening to your front-line employees, is something every company should do.

This allows you to see how frequent and impactful the problems are, which in turn helps you choose the right problems to address.

For example, one of our customers, If P&C Insurance, has collected thousands of such ideas from their customer service representatives, which has led to numerous profitable improvements in their business development work.

14. Ideas for improving customer experience

Even though it’s extremely important to identify the problems customers have, it’s just as important to try to proactively address them before they first appear.

Your smartest employees usually know the needs of your customers better than they do themselves.

So, that’s why it pays off to ask the people who know both your services and customers well to try to identify opportunities for improving the customer experience.

If you’ve read this far, you probably know what I’m about to say: a systematic approach is of the utmost importance here. Without it, the work will be infrequent and often focused on the opportunities people are most vocal about, instead of the ones with the biggest potential.

15. Decreasing response time to customer requests

As everyone’s busier than ever these days, fast response times are crucial for success in both sales and customer service.

A sales representative is 10 times as likely to qualify a lead, if they respond to the lead within the first five minutes. While the numbers might not be as dramatic for customer service, fast response times are crucial there as well.

The importance of rapid response rate is tremendous

With that background, the best companies are always looking to find ways to improve their processes to make sure that customers are responded to as fast as possible. 

16. Improving the onboarding of new customers

First impressions matter, without a doubt.

What kind of a start you get off to with your customer has a significant impact on how they perceive your company, as well as the future trajectory of the relationship.

While onboarding is especially important for online businesses where there’s often less interaction between the customer and the company, it’s still crucial even in some of the more traditional businesses.

New customers often struggle with very similar problems or fail to take specific kinds of actions that they should to succeed with your service or product.

Addressing these issues creates a smooth onboarding experience, which in turn generates positive word-of-mouth, helps make your customers more successful and reduces churn. Which brings us to our next use case. 

17. Finding ways to reduce churn and keep customers for longer

Churn is one of the most significant, yet often underappreciated challenges in many businesses.

Depending on which industry you’re in and which studies you believe, it’s typically somewhere between five and 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.

Thus, reducing churn and increasing customer retention should certainly be one of the priorities for many more businesses than it currently is.

Churn is always a sum of many parts and it’s typically very hard to identify the root causes for it, even if you are able to interview the churned customers.

Many of the methods I’ve introduced above are great starting points. However, to succeed, you need to systematically identify areas for improvement and then implement improvements in these areas.

Improved onboarding and customer service, faster response rates and improved quality of your products and services typically account for the majority of churn, but there are also other factors such as poor expectation management, selling to the wrong customers and additional costs the customer didn’t anticipate. 

18. Finding ways to differentiate, or be distinctive, from the competition

Every company has competition, yet every company probably wishes they didn’t. While you most likely can’t break free from the competition entirely, you can always improve your position over the competition.

Depending on your business, you might want to differentiate from the competition by serving a different audience, or solving a different problem than they are, or if that’s not possible, then at least be distinctive from the brands of the competitors.

This difference is extremely important here.

Functional or value-based differentiation works and is a key part in the journey of many innovations, especially the disruptive ones.

However, brand level differentiation has been proven to be a vain attempt. So, if you’re in a commoditized category, especially in the consumer business, your best bet isn’t to try to have a differentiated brand, but a distinctive one.

Regardless of whether you want to differentiate, or be distinctive, the people who have to constantly try to outsmart the competition, your sales people and marketers, probably have a pretty good idea of the kind of arguments and campaigns that work.

So, if you’d like to break free of the competition, try collecting those insights systematically and then use them to shape your commercial strategy.

19. Finding uses for new technology

Most large companies these days have an R&D or innovation lab that is scouting new technology and trying to understand ways to use that technology in the business.

These labs usually know the trends quite well, but often have difficulties in finding the right parts of the business to apply these technologies in a profitable manner.

As a result, the labs typically start working on new business concepts instead of first using the technology to improve existing businesses or processes. While it can be the right choice if you’re looking to create new disruptive businesses, it’s a very risky path since they don’t know the technology, or the market.

The three horizons of innovation with the 70-20-10 rule

Even with new technology, the 70%-20%-10% rule is a good place to start from. In other words, 70% of projects using the new technology should go to simply incrementally improving existing products, services or processes, 20% on expanding those to adjacent markets, and only 10% on creating something completely new.

So, a great place to start from with a new technology is to ask employees around the organization and find ways where you can quickly learn the ins and outs of the new technology, deliver rapid business results with it and then leverage those results and skills to make the most out of the technology.

For example, if you’re looking for ways to utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning, you could ask your customer service representatives for ideas on what their most boring routine tasks are and how these could be automated. 

20. Future work

To be a pioneer that will shape the future of your industry, you, as a company, need to have a strong and detailed vision of the future. It’s highly unlikely that you’d succeed in creating the future simply by chance.

Thus, for a company that is looking to shape the future strategy of their organization, future work is an important starting point. Some large companies have even started hiring sci-fi writers to create future visions for the company to consider. Sci-fi, after all, is the source of many creative ideas that have eventually turned into some of the most successful products of our time, such as cellphones and touch screens.

Future work can help in organizational transformation

Even though “true visionary leaders”, who not only come up with ideas but are able to lead their teams to achieve that vision, are exceedingly rare, most companies still have at least a few people who always seem to be very forward-looking and insightful when it comes to the future. The organization, however, typically ignores these insights if the person is considered “a dreamer”.

So, a great place to start with future work is to simply ask your employees where they see your industry to be in 5, 10, or even 50 years from now.

21. Identifying risks

With the rapid spread of digital technology in the last couple of decades, executives have seen enough disrupted industries and other unforeseen events to take potentially existential risks seriously.

Risk management is an art and a science in and of itself and we won’t go in too much detail there, but often the hardest part in it is to identify all of the risks in the first place.

That’s also where it can be very helpful to get a wide variety of insights and opinions from a large audience.

If you ask all of your employees about the risks that they see for the future of the business, as well as simply for something going wrong in their everyday work, you’ll be able to identify entirely new risks and then prepare for ones you otherwise wouldn’t have even known to exist. 

22. Strategy formulation

When organization start to work on a new strategy, they usually start by collecting a wide variety of inputs for their strategy work: competitor benchmarking, industry analysis, future work and risk analysis are all standard parts of the process.

Yet, it’s shocking how often organizations forget to involve and engage their most important resource, namely their employees, in this phase.

The employees of the organization always have plenty of insights on where the company currently is and ideas on where they should go. Many of those insights and ideas won’t usually be very useful, but there are always hidden gems.

Later on, you can also engage them by asking for feedback on the first drafts of the new strategy.

There are also a couple of added benefits for engaging employees in strategy formulation

  • You’ll see how well your employees know the business and where their blind spots are
  • Sense of ownership for the new strategy
  • Feeling of being appreciated

These added benefits are all crucial when it comes time to implement the new strategy.

Your employees will already know the strategy better and since they’ve been a part of creating it, you’re already well on your having to achieving buy-in for the new strategy.

What’s more, you’ll have much more engaged employees to implement it and you’ll already know what the likely challenges are going to be in communicating it. 

23. Strategy implementation

There are, of course, always some bad strategies. There are plain bad strategies, strategies that aren’t in fact strategies, and then there are ones that might've sounded beautiful on paper but were never realistic to begin with.

However, in our experience, there are many failed strategies that aren’t in either of those groups. They simply fail because they weren’t implemented properly.

Implementing a strategy is such a complex beast that there certainly won’t be any silver bullets. It’s always going to take a lot of hard work and systematic problem solving.

As we’ve discussed, you should prepare for the implementation already in the formulation phase by looking for practical challenges that you’re going to face and then solving for them in the strategy itself.

However, even in the implementation phase, it pays off to engage your employees. Purely top-down strategy implementation rarely works.

Complexity requires a new way to lead

When you launch the new strategy, you might want to create a new idea challenge asking your employees for ways that they’d change the business and the ways of working to support the new strategy.

This will communicate the importance of everyone buying in the new strategy, as well as help you communicate your goals for the new strategy.

It can also lead to great practical ideas that you can use to reinforce the new strategy and will help you identify key people within the organization that you can leverage to achieve buy-in and win the organization over. 

24. Refining the vision and/or mission of the organization

When organizations are refreshing their vision and/or mission, one of the most challenging parts of the process always seems to be to find the right words to communicate the end result.

Many rely on external partners to do this, and while there certainly is value in getting an outside experts perspective, the people who already know you well might have even better ideas.

A proven technique for solving this problem is to try to come up with as many different slogans as possible, then choose the best ones and refine those. An idea challenge aimed at your employees is an effortless way to do this. 

25. Naming competition

Just like finding the right words for a mission statement, naming things can often prove to be a surprisingly difficult endeavour.

We’ve had customers use Viima to find a new name for their company, names for their new products or services, as well as infrastructure such as buildings or even meeting rooms.

No matter what you’re looking to name, people usually love the chance to have a say and are very eager to participate. It’s a great way to come up with creative ideas and build team spirit within the organization in the process.

As long as the competition stays within your organization, there’s also very little risk in trolls taking over.

26. Collect ideas for new marketing campaigns

Marketing is a very tough job. To be great at it, you have to, paradoxically, be both very creative and systematic at the same time.

Yet, even the best of us have times when were don’t feel like we’re at our most creative, which is when you have to find ways to break out of that rut.

All creatives have their own ways for doing this, but one that is guaranteed to get you firing on all cylinders is to simply get as many ideas as possible. You can then use those to find fresh ideas that you might not have thought of yourself, as well as to try to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each idea.

So, if you’re looking to start new marketing campaigns, it’s a great idea to ask others for ideas. The rest of your marketing team and your salespeople are guaranteed to have interesting ideas that you can build off on to create a concept for your next marketing campaign. 

27. Ideas for creating new content to help customers

Content, in one format or the other, is one of the key drivers of marketing results for virtually every business, no matter whether you’re a B2B or B2C company.

Content drives visibility and traffic. Content helps you convert visitors to leads and ultimately to paying customers. Content helps educate your customers. Content creates and reinforces the brand.

Like Bill Gates said in 1996: “content is king”.

Thus, virtually every company should be creating more, and more importantly, better content.

Content marketing requires plenty of ideas as input

The key to making more relevant, and thus better, content is to ensure that content addresses real customer problems or desires. One of the best ways you can do that is by systematically keeping track of the questions customers ask you.

For example, we have an internal Viima board where people who work with our customers log all questions they get asked, along with new feature suggestions. If the question has already been asked before, they simply upvote the existing one.

This provides us with a vast library of content ideas where we can always pull ideas from. And, even more importantly, those ideas are already prioritized based on the number of customers that have asked the same question, which makes the process of choosing a new piece of content quite straightforward. 

28. Organizing events

Let’s say you’ve been tasked with organizing the company Christmas party. You might have some great activity ideas for the party, but truth be told, you have no idea what people would really like.

You can, of course, ask people for their preferences in person or via a survey. There are, however, a couple of problems: surveys are boring, and you’d still have to do further research on the concept to see if some people would absolutely hate the kind of activities people suggest.

By using an interactive and fun tool for the job, you can let the community take care of both of these issues for you and, again, build team spirit in the process. A classic win-win-win situation.

29. Ideation for improving collaboration between teams or functions

Probably the most common challenges in large organizations are virtually always related to collaboration between different teams or functions.

Sales is complaining that marketing isn’t delivering them enough, or good enough, leads and marketing is frustrated with sales losing so many deals and closing them so slowly.

IT complains that business doesn’t understand the practical realities of managing complex technology systems and business complains that IT is too slow and too expensive.

Sound familiar?

These challenges are inevitable in functional organizations. In divisional organizations, the arguments are between the divisions or product lines battling for resources and authority, but the fundamental challenge is still the same: not understanding other people’s points-of-views.

There are obviously many ways to combat this challenge, but often the most practical and powerful one is to have the teams work together to solve each other’s problems.

This can often lead to brilliant, out-of-the-box ideas, but also simply putting people in someone else’s shoes for a little while can prove to be immensely helpful.

So, ask the other team or division to come up with ideas on what you could do better. This usually leads to quite a few ideas that will help your team up your game. What’s more, by having a constructive discussion related to the ideas you can’t implement, you’ll help them understand your point-of-view, which resolves tensions between the teams.

An online idea management tool is the natural place for arranging this collaborative ideation as it’s often very impractical and counter-productive to organize a workshop with the conflicting schedules and working practices different teams have.

30. Improving workplace safety

In industries where work happens outside the office, workplace safety is always a tremendously important consideration.

Not only is it morally the right thing to do to put safety first as an employer, which should be enough of a reason in itself, but safety is also good for business.

Any time an employee is away from work is incredibly expensive. There are plenty of direct expenses resulting from that, such as sick leave, medical, legal, insurance and overtime costs, but it’s the indirect costs, such as opportunity cost and customer satisfaction that are even bigger issues.

Workplace safety is a great investment

As a result, it’s been reported that investing in workplace safety can lead to a return on investment of almost 600%.

Thus, any idea anyone has for improving workplace safety is likely to be one of the best investments you can make as an organization. You can scale these results by making workplace safety improvement a continuous, collaborative and proactive effort with an effective idea management process. 

31. Ideas for making the organization a better place to work

Just like workplace safety, many other investments to the health and quality of life for your employees are likely to be very financially sound in addition to simply being the right thing to do.

Most organizations do ask for feedback on this with employee satisfaction surveys or in one-on-one conversations. The problem, however, is that it’s usually quite difficult for employees to come up with improvement ideas on the spot.

Also, as these issues are often quite subjective, it isn’t necessarily straightforward to tell how different people react to different kinds of changes.

As such, a very practical way to do this is to have an idea management solution set up where people are asked to voice their opinions on how their work could be made easier, less stressful, or simply more fun.

This often leads to very interesting ideas that provide you with the ability to not only come up with practical solutions, but also see what kind of a culture you currently have. This is very useful input for helping you steer the culture in the direction you’d like it to go. 

32. Improving your employer brand

Employer branding can be tough. It’s equal parts culture and HR, but first and foremost marketing.

As with any kind of marketing, it’s crucial that you know your audience well. However, often the people doing the employer branding might not exactly belong to the target audience, which can make it hard to come up with messaging and campaigns that resonate with that audience.

As a matter of fact, we’ve seen many great employer branding ideas that have led to the best results come from the employees who are most like your ideal hires.

So, with that background in mind, it certainly makes sense to ask for ideas from around the organization and engage the best employees in the discussion whenever you’re looking to put more emphasis on employer branding. 

33. Improving onboarding and training for new hires

A good onboarding introduces new employees to the big picture of the organization (the culture, strategy, mission etc.) and sets them up to succeed in driving those goals forward.

Just like with any other process, there’s always plenty of room for improvement in onboarding and training new hires. If you don’t have that many new hires constantly joining the organization, you can probably get away with even a mediocre onboarding process.

However, if you’re growing fast, employee onboarding has a massive impact on your ability to sustain or accelerate that growth and to simply be an effective organization.

The challenge in improving the onboarding process is that after a while you start to take certain things for granted and it can be really difficult to know exactly what the onboarding should contain.

The answer lies in engaging the new hires to improve the onboarding process when it’s still fresh in their mind and they know what they should know but haven’t yet learned.

Collecting improvement ideas from them is a great way to get them to allow them to start contributing back to the organization right away. 

34. Find ways to make meetings shorter and more effective

Communication is always one of the key challenges in any organization. Meetings naturally have a big role to play in this, both in good and in bad.

On one hand, meetings can be a great way to improve communication and collaboration. On the other hand, we all know that they can also be a huge time sink. Which, if those meetings are ineffective, is a huge cost center.

For example, the cost of attending unnecessary meetings for an international company with 80 000 employees was in excess of $1 billion annually. This doesn’t even include the cost of poor organization of the necessary meetings, which accounts to another very sizeable sum.

Even if your company is significantly smaller and less international, that sum is still quite often bigger than the budget any individual executive is responsible for. Thus, making meetings more effective is an incredibly valuable untapped opportunity for most organizations.

Making meetings more effective can be hugely profitable

There are naturally quite a few methods out there for running more effective meetings. The challenge lies in finding the right ones to use in each type of meeting you have, and even more importantly, to get people to adhere to those principles.

A great method for getting people to buy in is to engage them in the process of creating the principles. Ask them for their suggestions and then consolidate the ideas to a common rule book.

By asking everyone for their input, you help people understand how important the issue is and they’ll also be much more committed to the end result when they’ve been a part of coming up with it. 

35. Coming up with ideas for being a more sustainable organization

Sustainability in all of its forms, economic, social and environmental, is a big deal. No one argues that operating in a sustainable fashion is certainly the right thing do. However, some say that sustainability is a financial liability.

There is, however, more and more evidence showing that the opposite is actually true. According to Deutsche Bank’s research of 56 academic studies, almost 90% of those studies showed that companies with a higher sustainability rating outperformed the market in the medium and long-term.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise since the core idea of sustainability is to use your resources in as effective a way as possible with the long-term in mind, which every organization should naturally strive to do.

As with many of our other examples, your employees are a great source of ideas for minimizing waste and optimizing the use of resources in their work, which again helps to not only discover ways to operate smarter, but to also convey the message of this being an important issue for your organization to consider.


What might come as a surprise to some is that the vast majority of these uses are quite mundane.

However, if we look back at the 70%-20%-10% rule for innovation, it simply makes sense.

Since only 10% of your resources should go towards those big bets on disruptive or radical innovation, the vast majority of your innovation resources, time and efforts should be spent on making the most out of what you’re already doing.

These ideas, problems and opportunities usually aren’t very exciting or sexy, but they do drive real business results quickly. What’s more, these results compound over time.

There are many different uses for idea management software

A simple idea management tool can serve as the platform for quite a wide range of different innovation activities that can all drive measurable business results, as well as improve transparency, communication and collaboration within the organization, which in turn have a positive effect on the culture.

You should, however, pick just one or two of them to begin with, and then focus on driving results there first before moving onto the next one.

When everyone knows that your idea management process works, you’ll be much better prepared to tackle the challenges related to implementing some of those more complex, potentially disruptive, ideas as that journey almost always involves a few setbacks down the line.

If you don’t yet have a tool for doing all of this, you might want to consider signing up for Viima. Getting started takes just minutes and is completely free of charge.