A system to enable company/ groupwide, uncensored,unweighted (higher authority, perceived experts, perceived lack of expertise, etc) contributions of ideas for stated challenges, or to raise and profile the challenges themselves.
1. In organisations with steep hierarchies it can be difficult if not impossible to share ideas with decision makers without premature bias as to the ideas value being introduced.
2. Good ideas often aren’t given a chance to survive a bureaucracy because of the titles of those who suggested them or the perceived lack of expertise or knowledge (position, domain, education, etc.).
3. Outside of small groups, either because of silos, or hierarchical structures, challenges may not even be known about nor adjacent or out of the box solution spaces explored.
4. People within companies are a valuable and untapped resource as they know the company, and have a personal, vested interest in its success.
5. Companies often go to external resources to get fresh and broad thinking when a breadth of new thinkers may be sitting inside their walls.
Overall, many individuals within companies are unable to contribute their full value. This could be due to lack of motivation (as nothing changes), lack of knowledge (only top management knows the challenges and goals), lack of opportunity (my boss shoots down my ideas), or lack of confidence (I can’t disagree with my boss).
The solution is an approach that enables sharing of challenges and ideas outside of the normal constraints as listed above. By enabling all individuals to anonymously make suggestions, bring forward ideas, and highlight challenges, they can be judged by all people, and based on merit alone.
One way to think of this tool could be a modern representation of the corporate suggestion box, but with some very important differences. Every idea is clearly visible by everyone in the company.
Ideas would be judged on the merits of the idea--not based on the individual who suggested it. As a result, people who may have felt disenfranchised in an organization and felt like their ideas aren’t being heard will now have a forum to do so.
By enabling all people within a company (or group) to contribute anonymously, it evens the playing field for a meritocratic approach to judging all ideas such as defined challenges and ideas and suggestions for resolving challenges, improving systems, innovating in process or products.
By keeping the ideas anonymous, it ensures that everyone feels comfortable to put it forward. It also removes the barriers for who can talk to whom, who has access to decision makers and resource holders.
From the other side, it means the company has access to a great pool of talent on a wider range of challenges and opportunities.
This means everyone has an opportunity to contribute, and the company has access to a wider range of ideas.
Are people more likely to contribute if they are anonymous? Will people value anonymous ideas or will they be more easily dismissed?
Number of contributions
Number of contributors
Number of ideas escalated
▪ Experimental subjects:
It could be a number of divisions of a company (not one division as this might make people easy to identify)
▪ Control group:
This could be compared to previous involvement and performance- so the control could be the previous 6 months of the same group
Alternatively - volunteers for the trial could be split between anonymous and attributed groups
Ideally, this system would allow for organic growth of participants, and of areas for ideas, suggestions, etc.
For experimental purposes, it is important to ascertain if enabling anonymous contributions improves the rate of ideas, and quality, in a short space of time. For this reason, it will be necessary to build the group, and provide boundaries for contributing.
1. Identify 3-5 business areas eager to participate - 1 week
2a. Establish baseline of ideas generated/ shared in previous 6 months - 1 week
2b. Establish how ideas will be assessed - simultaneous
3. Articulate problem areas that need innovation, development, exploration and set up areas, with background research, strategic goals etc (this will be influenced by which business areas are included, though should not only include directly related goals) - 1 week
4. Explain process, set up systems and anonymity principle - 1 week
5. Monitor and facilitate contributions, discussions - 4 weeks
6. Feedback period opens (how does it feel, what works, what doesn’t) - simultaneous
7. Next round, with ideas developed, voted, moved up and down the ladder - 3 weeks
8. Assessment of ideas based on decided framework, and participant experience - 1-2 weeks
David C. Mason
And thank you to Chris Grams for valuable insight and support