Employee creativity and idea management platforms are like cookies and milk. They need each other. The one just does not work properly without the other.

But before going into this relationship in depth, we need to clarify an important point. There has always been controversy related to the concepts of creativity and innovation. Some people often mistake these two terms as being basically the same thing. They are not. Creativity refers to the ability to generate novel and useful ideas. In a company setting, creativity is mostly about putting knowledge, experience and the mind to good use in order to come up with something new – that may lead to innovation. That would be the goal. But it does not mean that all creative ideas become innovations. Far from it.

In order to make the most of employees’ creativity by using creativity as a tool to innovate, companies can benefit from idea management platforms.

“Creativity is thinking of something new. Innovation is the implementation of something new.”

Paul Sloane, author and public speaker on innovation

Individual Creativity

To better understand the importance of using an idea management software, it is important to define the concept of individual creativity. Individual creativity is the ability to develop creative ideas influenced by personal characteristics. Among the countless personal characteristics, the most important ones related to creativity are general intellectual abilities, thinking styles, personality traits and motivation.

During a discussion at work, it is often clear how much different know-how coworkers really have, and how many different experiences coworkers bring to the table. Just imagine how many different creative ideas could be collected if you tapped into the minds of you and your coworkers while you are discussing the solution to a problem – if all the ideas that were mentioned during a professional discussion were actually written down and worked with, but without taking up a lot of time. An idea management platform is the tool for just that. It is a place where individual creativity can flourish.

Stimulating Employee Creativity – the Roots

When we talk about the real first attempt to tap into employee creativity we refer to the famous suggestion box. John Patterson, the founder of National Cash Register (NCR), devised the first suggestion box in 1895. Patterson was the first to understand the power of adapting systems to unleash employees’ fullest potential. He and his top executives decided to start listening to everyone for ways to make NCR better. The suggestion box, in fact, had the original aim to stimulate ideas from hourly workers. This revolutionary program contributed to the submission of 7,000 different ideas by 1904. The story goes that the commission adopted about one-third of them and that led to great savings within the NCR.

The suggestion box is a solution based on the concept of anonymity. It was initially devised to make employees feel safe in giving their feedback. Nowadays, however, the suggestion box is an outdated and inefficient solution. How could companies, for example, benefit from ideas if they cannot know who the contributor was? And how can we quickly and efficiently develop ideas if they are simply written down on a note and put in a physical box? Over the years, companies have utilized different ways to encourage employee creativity and optimize idea sharing. The final result is the digital idea management platform.

Stimulating Employee Creativity Today

In the age of digitalization, an idea management platform is a tool that permits companies to make the most of their employee creativity. It can also be viewed as the place for employees to listen to each other’s input and opinions, not just about driving the business forward, but also about making small improvements in the everyday work life.

Additionally, idea management platforms allow team members to share and structure their ideas at any time of the day. Employees do not have to be at work to share their know-how and ideas. This is especially relevant because studies show that creative ideas usually do not come while sitting on the chair at the office, but rather at moments when you are not forcing the good ideas. An idea management platform allows you to share that great work idea you had while you were on the beach with your family on a Sunday or at the gym in the evening. It is a tool that makes employees able to share their ideas right after they had them and allows colleagues to view, rate and comment on them immediately.

Final Thoughts – Learning from the Best

Nowadays, many companies have understood the importance of employee creativity. The most striking example is Google. Google employees must use 20% of the regular work time to develop their own ideas. During this free time, Google engineers can pursue projects they are passionate about and interested in. The story goes that employee creativity has already produced products such as Google News, Google Suggest, AdSense for Content, and Orkut.

If you also want to unleash employee creativity in your company, we would love to help you out. Try out our idea management platform right here: https://app.ideanote.io/

If you have enjoyed this article, don’t miss out on this one to learn more about idea management: What is Idea Management and Why is it Important?.