Whether you are a fisher or not, you will have heard of the expression of “casting”. It means that we are searching for something, trying to connect the dots. In a sense, idea management and innovation is a little bit like fishing. It is about casting lines and anchors, casting lights, casting adrift, casting plans, and more. In terms of innovation, it is about finding those ideas and accepting them or dismissing them, creating something that works.
Idea Management Is about Good Casting
Casting matters to idea management and innovation because it is about finding a really good idea, and being able to deliver upon it. This requires a process, one in which every step is described, from finding the idea to executing it to measuring its success. Casting for innovation is a form of art, but those who master it are much better at discovering and capturing good ideas, and they know how to act on those. Clever businesses, therefore, consider methods of doing that properly. It is about five key stages:
- The stage of discovery.
- The stage of generation.
- The stage of conversion.
- The stage of diffusion.
- The stage of accepting.
It Is about Having an Open Net
In order for innovation to really work, it is vital that there is openness. That is how you cast the wider net – by making the opening bigger. It is about breaking through barriers and becoming more effective in research and development. This is something that Booz & Co recently researched, for instance, who looked into the effectiveness of open innovation.
It Is about Fishing in the Right Place
Even with the best casting techniques, you’re never going to catch a shark in a goldfish bowl. The same is true for innovation: you can only get the right ideas in the right places. And, believe it or not, those places are away from management and into the areas where the grassroot workers are.
It Is about Back-Casting
Fishermen know about back-casting. What this means is that, when you cast in one location and you don’t catch a fish, you don’t necessarily abandon that location. You question whether you did something wrong, whether the conditions aren’t entirely right, or whether there are other factors at play. You look back and think about things again. And, if necessary, you cast in that same place again, but with some differences.
Innovation, in a sense, is just like fishing. It is about fishing for ideas, fishing for clues, fishing for new ways to move forward. It is also about deciding whether, when you do catch a fish, it is worth keeping, or whether it needs throwing back. You cannot fish for big fish without the right equipment, the right tools, and the right knowledge. But you don’t necessarily have to be an accomplished fisherman to be able to catch those fish. A little bit of guidance is all it takes for someone who has never fished before to pick out the big one. And that is the same with innovation: anyone can do it so long as they have the tools to do it.