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Collecting Product and Process Ideas

July 24, 2020

How are we collecting product or process ideas? This is from the perspective of Human Resources, but excerpt from Kim Scott’s Radical Candor:

It’s hard enough to get yourself to listen to your team members and let them know you are listening; getting them to listen to one another is even harder. The keys are 1) have a simple system for employees to use to generate ideas and voice complaints, 2) make sure that at least some of the issues raised are quickly addressed, and 3) regularly offer explanations as to why the other issues aren’t being addressed. This system should not merely empower anyone to point out things that could be better but also enable others to help fix those things or make changes. […]

At Google, people constantly came to me with good ideas—more than I could handle, in fact—and it became overwhelming. So I organized an “ideas team” to consider them. For context, I circulated an article from Harvard Business Review (HBR) that explained how a culture that captures thousands of “small” innovations can create benefits for customers that are impossible for competitors to imitate. One big idea is pretty easy to copy, but thousands of tweaks are impossible to see from the outside, let alone imitate.

Next, I talked through some key principles that ought to guide the ideas team, first among them empowerment. The ideas team had to commit to listening to any idea that anyone brought to them, to explain clearly why they rejected the ideas they rejected, and to help people implement ideas that the ideas team deemed worthwhile. If somebody’s idea seemed especially promising, they could even negotiate with the person’s manager to give them some time off from their “day job” to work on implementing it…

What’s our system? Our key principles? etc.

It might sound like feature/enhancement triage and prioritization. I think triage is a start, some questions…

  • Can anyone in the org voice ideas (and do they know how)?
  • Can we explain why some ideas are picked and others discarded by pointing to a (product) north star or set of principles?
  • Do we have a singular “simple system” to collect ideas?
  • Other ways we can “open source” ideas generation.

This is your name goes.
Or whatever, you make the rules.