There are a whole host of reasons why ideas don’t get chosen, yet we tend to unconsciously label them in simple terms such as accepted or rejected, good or bad. At Pondr, we believe the ideation process is a lot more nuanced and complex, and the systems we use to gather ideas should reflect this.
When building Pondr, we realized how important it was to incorporate a ‘not now’ feature - to lighten the tone and create an environment where idea management is viewed as a pool of options, in contrast to a more weighted system that separates contributions into success or failure. The ‘keep or toss’ mentality creates a binary way of assessing ideas, which will always have a knock on effect, and influence the degree to which people contribute. Coming up with innovative thoughts is the first hurdle, but sharing them is another. It can often feel like a heavy task for fear of failure or perfectionism and can stifle the creative flow.
“Don't be precious with your ideas!” is a common piece of advice you hear from creative people. What they mean is, the more precious you are with your ideas, the less free you will feel to explore all avenues, and the more self-conscious, judgemental and rudimentary you will become in the process. When we view contributions as options rather than ideas, the dynamic changes. No matter what your role in a business, it is important to understand the fundamental ingredient of any ideation process: movement.
Innovation comes from a healthy ecosystem of thought, where ideas are constantly floating around, shifting and transforming, being transferred from one person to the next. Maybe someone’s embryonic idea takes form and inspiration in another persons head, stimulating new growth and collaboration. Perhaps an idea is better suited for a few years down the line, or maybe you're not ready to launch something quite yet. You might want to get A, B and C in place before you can reach Z, or perhaps the idea doesn’t reflect customer needs just yet.
Whatever the situation, ideas should be allowed free movement, to bump against others or simply wait in the ethos should they ever become valuable. It is far too limiting to make permanent decisions about ideas that could be useful in the future - some ideas just simply aren’t ready to be actioned on straight away. Tossing out ideas and only keeping the ones that work for the here-and-now is short term, tunnel vision thinking. Whatever the reason may be, having the option to label ideas between ‘approved’ or ‘not now’ is a more realistic form of organizing the idea management process.