On Managing Ideas

Ideas are the basis for competitive edge. Not being able to manage ideas effectively and efficiently is detrimental to everyone.

As a former United States Naval Officer and federal contractor, who at times worked under former Secretary of Defense, Robert M. Gates (William and Mary, Class of 1965, L.H.D. ’98), I have fulfilled the roles of both employee and manager.  I have found that although innovation may be touted, more often than not, ideas are not managed well at any level of most organizations.  As a result, idea creators are frustrated and ultimately end up leaving an organization. Managers are frustrated because there is no real process to advocate for, screen, and test ideas to determine their mettle. Operating in this manner is costly and inefficient for both individual employees, managers, and to the organization as a whole.

Is it possible to combine the idea space, which is inherently more art than science; and processes, which are inherently more science than art?

Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas Within Your Organization, by Kevin C. Desouza, deftly combines the art of the idea space with the science of processes, to manage ideas after they are created. For instance, the book suggests pairing idea creators with idea advocates. Forming a partnership between idea creators and idea advocates, is a notion that could assist in moving an idea from the art of idea conception through processes to arrive at idea implementation. Additionally, having separate roles like idea creators and idea advocates would be incredibly efficient. Of course these roles would overlap, but the essence is to capitalize on individuals’ strengths, which benefits both the individual and the organization.

In addition to the example cited above, Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas Within Your Organization, provides processes to move an idea through the distinct phases of: conception, commercialization, diffusion, and implementation. The book assists idea creators by providing them with processes to move their ideas past the conception phase, so that the idea doesn’t die; and provides managers and companies with processes to decide which ideas are ultimately the most profitable to the organization.

Since ideas are the basis for competitive edge, not being able to manage ideas effectively and efficiently is detrimental to everyone. Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas Within Your Organization, is an intelligent, insightful, and useful book, a rare and powerful combination. It illustrates ways to manage ideas from the initial thought to a marketable product. Therefore, idea creators, managers, and companies can benefit from the contents of this book.

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Lucy Williams

Guest blogger Lucy Williams has worked at Booz Allen Hamilton, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, and is a former Naval Officer. She is currently a Masters of Systems Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

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