Best Practices Around Ideation


(Kristen Gastaldo) #1

I’d love some feedback around ideation, if anyone is using it in their community.

A little background - we launched our community (for customers of a certain product only) almost 4 years ago. At the time, the product was really new and we used the community to solicit and prioritize customer ideas, helping to drive the road map. We’ve been inundated with ideas - over 1200 since we launched. We started releasing new features every 2 months, about 2 years ago. Since we began the community, we’ve implemented just over 120 customer ideas.

But now our roadmap is more set. We’ve planned out what we’re mainly going to work on in 2016 and 2017. So here’s my dilemma - how to we reign in the number of ideas submitted? We’d like customer feedback, but know that they’ll get frustrated if they continue to submit ideas for an area of the product we won’t be working on in the next year. We do have a “quick win” initiative, where we implement quick fixes and upgrades that require very little testing in each release.

Does anyone ask their customers for areas specific to areas you’ll be working on?
Or ask them to rank the ideas we are already planning?
Do you lock down the submission process?
Or accept ideas only during a certain period of time?

Just wondering how anyone else is handling ideation. We moved platforms recently, so it seems like a good time to make some changes that make ideation more scalable!


(Steve Bridger) #2

Hi @Kristen_Gastaldo.

I think the next stage might be focus.

I like the way that openIDEO restricts what they do to specific challenges - each with a 3-5 month timeline.

This is an area where you could blend online with offline, too. If budget allows, you could invite community members to ‘hackdays’ (for want of a better expression) where they can mingle with staff to innovate around specific ‘problems’ to solve, or products to evolve or co-create.


Idea Generating Community
(Pablo Corral) #3

Hi @Kristen_Gastaldo,

One of the best cases on ideation I’ve found is in Starbucks:

My Starbucks Idea
http://mystarbucksidea.force.com/

Seems very active at the moment.


(Sarah Hawk) #4

How reliant is the community on the submission of ideas? If you pause submissions will there be other engagement?


(Kristen Gastaldo) #5

Thanks for the sites to check out.

Hawk - We have a good amount of content, so I’m not worried about community suffering with a lack of ideas.

After talking to products, marketing, and some customers, I think we’re leaving the “submit an idea” in. Taking it away altogether seems harsh. But we are going to be very clear about what we’re working on and when.

I am toying with the idea of a threshold - saying products will evaluate ideas once they reach a certain level of popularity. This puts it back on the community to vote (and encourage others to vote) on ideas. Think customers will hate this?

It’s not that we don’t want to respond to all ideas - our products just doesn’t have capacity to evaluate and prioritize all ideas. And our roadmap is pretty set for the next year - we aren’t planning on adding more, but could change priority based on popularity.


(Sarah Hawk) #6

I think that makes sense in that it will stimulate continued engagement, which might be crucial if you lose momentum around new idea submission. I have no way of knowing how your audience will react, but if you don’t try it you’ll never know. You can always pivot if it doesn’t work.


(Katherine Mancuso) #7

Have you given them information about how many of their ideas have been used - and how many are already in the roadmap for next year?

Perhaps you could write a post about how x number of community ideas have been used (even including examples and naming community members), and how you are planning to use x number of community ideas in this coming year - and then add some careful language to the effect of “because we’re already using so many ideas this year, while we are still taking your submissions, it might be a while before we can get to them.”?

This sets people up to understand that their contributions have had a huge impact on product but also sets the expectation that you can’t readily accommodate new ideas in the coming year.

In addition, is it possible to move the emphasis of the community towards user-submitted ideas in areas where the users can innovate without your assistance? I don’t know what your product is, but for instance, if Photoshop was your product, perhaps you could feature user-developed actions. If Excel was your product, you could feature useful spreadsheet designs or macros that people in the community develop. Hope that makes sense.


(Mark Williams) #8

One thing to consider on “thresholds”: what happens if the highest voted item is something that you will never implement? Dell’s ideas area had “allow pre-installed linux” as their highest voted item for a long time and there was no way as a Microsoft partner they were going to do that (until they eventually did). Just need to make sure you have some decent messages around that type of situation. Also, if you do take out “submit an idea”, I bet those things will show up somewhere else.


(Kristen Gastaldo) #9

That’s what we realized. Removing “submit an idea” just means they’ll post ideas elsewhere. If we leave it open, at least it’ll keep them altogether - making it possible to manage and not filling the whole community with ideas.

We’re pretty clear that popularity does not mean priority. We want their feedback and we can adapt as their needs change, but there are some ideas we are pretty sure we’re NEVER going to do - and we say that.


(Nick Emmett) #10

This is a good little discussion, thanks for starting it @Kristen_Gastaldo!

We’re on Salesforce as a platform and it has a built in Ideation feature, imaginatively called Ideas! Salesforce themselves use it to great effect. It’s open all the time, and users are encouraged to post their ideas in the forum once submitted, to bring attention to them and hopefully encourage people to vote on them and strengthen the use case. The submission goes into our Product Manager queues and will be considered when a threshold of points is hit. We tell members each release, how many customer submissions are included.


(Cesar Castro) #11

Here are some tips I put together recently. I have spent many years working in the ideas space prior to joining Salesforce. Hope it is helpfulTips On Managing Ideas.pdf (8.5 MB)