Idea Management: What It Is and How to Do It

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What is Idea Management?

Ideas lie at the core of innovation and ground-breaking development. Smart businesses, companies, and individuals know that achieving great progress can take just an idea which if properly developed and managed will blossom and lead to enormous success. Because ideas are the foundational stones for success, an increasing number of people are seeking a systematic approach that allows them to capture, refine and execute ideas. 

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This systematic approach is called idea management. Ideas come and go. Sometimes, ideas bombard us so much that it's hard to keep track of them, and that is why it's crucial to set up a system for capturing these ideas. Idea management is, therefore, a systematic and structured approach for generating and gathering ideas from both internal and external sources. These collected ideas will be analyzed, prioritized according to potential, and further refined using an idea management system before they are executed and transformed into a final product or service.  idea management system before they are executed and transformed into a final product or service. 

Idea management systems are tools or technologies that aid the idea generation process and keep track of collected ideas. Idea management systems are idea organizers that allow you to manage the flow of ideas and categorize ideas according to their potential. With an idea management system in place, you can onboard team members and create a pool of insight from the contributions of team members. Think of it like a repository or database for all the ideas that you come across.

Differences between Idea Management and Innovation Management

Markets change rapidly, and so do the interests of consumers. Idea management and innovative management are the techniques by which organizations can keep abreast of this change and remain relevant to the people they serve. 

Though idea management and innovation management are both critical to the growth and sustainability of businesses, they are not the same thing.  

Innovation is an undebatable instrument for driving growth and increasing business profitability. Innovation encompasses the process of creatively bringing in new concepts into a business model, the creation of new products and services, and the addition of unique value to existing products and services. Innovation is achieved through an organized strategy called innovation management. 

Innovation management is the strategic procedure for implementing innovation in a business process or organization. It describes the entire process and activities undertaken to generate new ideas, polish, refine, and implement the ideas to increase a business’s market value. 

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So how does idea management differ from innovation management?

Idea management is a core aspect of innovation management. Innovation management is a vast, encompassing strategy, and the idea management process is just one wheel, though a vital one, in this system that drives innovation. Innovation management can be likened to the vehicle for driving business growth, while idea management is like the engine that provides the force that drives the vehicle. 

In the idea management process, the focus is on how to stimulate, stir, and generate new ideas that will impact and improve already existing business models, products, and services. On the other hand, innovation management focuses on the strategies that are employed for the generation and development of entirely new products, services, or business processes. 

Why You Need to Manage Ideas

Let's paint a scenario. Imagine you are the product manager for a company that makes hair care products. You have the task of continually offering ways to improve the company's hair care line. To improve the products, you can ask for feedback from your consumers and staff, or can even spy on your competition to find ways to promote your products and beat them on the market.

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After all your efforts at soliciting for feedback, you have a pool of collected ideas and insights that you can refine and implement to improve your products and increase business value. But how do you go about collecting these ideas? What strategy can you employ to sift through the ideas you receive and find the ones with the most promise and potential? How do you systematically keep track of all these ideas so that you don't forget or lose them? 

These important questions bring us to the concept of idea management and the need for a tool, a system for managing collected insights. 

Going back to our product manager scenario, if you had in place an idea management system, getting feedback and insights to improve your product will not be an arduous task. With an idea management system, you can collect ideas from key stakeholders, consumers, and team members, pool these ideas in a repository, and prioritize them according to their value-potential. You can now track what point you are on in the ideation process, and this will inform how you channel resources into improving upon your products. 

Managing ideas is a full-bodied work that cannot be handled casually. There are a lot of benefits to be reaped when ideas are properly and efficiently managed using an idea management system. 

Managing ideas using an idea management system can benefit businesses and organizations in the following ways:

Promptly tackle product problems

Consumer insight can be a powerful resource for pinpointing product-related issues and providing solutions that can improve the value of products. An idea management system can be set up and configured to allow consumers to provide information on problems encountered while using products. A log of this collected information will prove useful in fine-tuning, upgrading, and improving products. 

Development of new products and services

When ideas are adequately collected and evaluated, insight can be drawn for the development of new products, services, and business models. Idea management systems provide a systematic way of obtaining diverse thinking from several people. These ideas can further be developed to create new products and services that will lead to growth. 

Harness collaboration among team members /employees

An idea management system is a tool that can be utilized to spur team members or employees to input innovative ideas and think creatively about business processes. This systematic approach encourages group members and employees to provide contributions that can be evaluated before being implemented as products or services. 

How to Manage Ideas?

In today's world, managing ideas using a traditional approach is inefficient, impractical, and can be extremely difficult. Sifting through files and files of feedback or scouring suggestion boxes as a means of managing ideas can be a terrible waste of productive time and is not the way to go. 

So how do you manage and keep track of ideas in an efficient and time-saving fashion? 

There are modern digital tools that provide an effective method for managing ideas. One such tool is the mind map tool. Mind map tools are a simple yet efficient method for collecting, organizing, and managing ideas. The great thing about using a mind map tool for idea management is that it enables the visualization of ideas, allowing you to gain a broad view of gathered ideas. 

Mind maps are commonly regarded as structured, graphical representations of ideas or concepts. Aside from being a tool for brainstorming and coming up with new ideas, mind maps can also be utilized as systematic instruments for structuring and organizing ideas and insights. Small businesses and lean startups can tap into this simple yet efficient tool for managing their ideation and innovation processes. 

You may now be wondering how you can get started with managing ideas with a mind map tool. Outlined below is a general process flow for managing ideas using a mind map tool. 

Step 1: Choose a mind map tool

A mind mapping software is a tool that is optimized and configured for capturing multiple ideas, fostering creative thinking, and organizing ideas in a structured and systematic format. 

Mind mapping software is designed in a way that supports collaborative input from team members, thereby encouraging group thinking and improving the ideation process. 

A great mind map tool that can transform idea management into a fun, no-hassle, yet efficient process is the MindMaster tool. With MindMaster, you and your team can stay on top of your idea management strategy across all platforms—on the web, desktop and mobile. 


MindMaster is intuitive and supports group collaboration; therefore team members can all log in across different terminals to bring their unique insights into your idea management strategy. You can create an account for free and start organizing your ideas with no limitations imposed. 

Step 2: Define your goal or challenge

In this stage, you should identify a reason or purpose for your idea management strategy. It could be that you want to create an entirely new product, or make some improvements or upgrades to existing products or come up with solutions to product problems. Identifying your goal or challenge will drive the rest of the idea management strategy. 

Step 3: Generate and Collect Ideas

This is the stage where you generate, capture, and gather a large pool of ideas, feedback, and insights. These ideas can be collected from employees, team members, stakeholders, and customers. 

Step 4: Evaluate and refine ideas

This is the stage where you analyze your collection of ideas, sift, and filter to isolate ideas that are the most promising and potential. Ideas with potential can be further improved and refined before implementation. 

Step 5: Implementation

This stage completes the cycle of idea management, bringing you back to the purpose of your idea management strategy. Whether you were looking to create a new product or upgrade an old one, this is the stage where you take the refined ideas to work to achieve your goals. 

Great ideas can transform businesses and increase market profitability. Idea management systems are industry-recognized procedures for capturing, ordering and managing the ideas that can foster economic sustainability for businesses and companies.