Idea Storm Blog – Ideas don’t keep office hours

I have been writing blogs on Idea Management with the premise that new actionable ideas are the life blood of an organisation and that a good source of ideas is from the employees of the companies themselves.

Last week within a blog titled “Idea Mining”, I spoke about coming up with fantastic ideas as being a numbers game, where 500+ ideas need to be generated, to get 10 to 20 outstanding ideas. The aim of last week’s blog was to say that if so many ideas are needed, there needs to be a system where these ideas can be captured and an efficient system in which to evaluate these ideas.

To get these 500+ ideas from employees, I like to think that lightening will strike at some point during their work day, they will then pause, open the company Idea Management system, log the opportunity and then continue with their day. This though is unlikely to happen and so the question this week is:

When do employees have their best ideas?

Ideas don’t keep office hours

Stop for a minute and ask yourself when have had your best ideas? Is in the hustle and bustle of the office or is it elsewhere?

An article on Business Insider titled “Why people get their best ideas in the shower?” starts with the statement that 72% of people get their best ideas in the shower. This comes from a study by Scott Barry Kaufman that highlighted the importance of relaxation for creative thinking.

"The relaxing, solitary, and non-judgmental shower environment may afford creative thinking by allowing the mind to wander freely, and causing people to be more open to their inner stream of consciousness and daydreams," – Scott Barry Kaufman

Another article on is titled “Where and when do people get their best ideas?". This article suggests that there is a need for solitary retreat and reflection, and being exposed to new inputs – such as reading books, being in nature and surfing the internet – as being the best environment for new people to come up with new ideas.

Getting the most from their shower.

A second question for this blog would be:

How do we harness our employees’ most creative time?

The conundrum is that we need employees to contribute great ideas that will drive the company forward but the time, when these employees will most likely come up with ideas, is when they are in the shower, going for a run, driving to work and essentially not being at work.

Here are two suggestions that could help this process:

1) Issue idea challenges:

Within an Idea Management solution, specific challenges can be created that could be across the entire company or narrowed down to a specific division or team. These challenges are areas of the business that have been identified as a need for creative thinking, areas of improvement or general ideas on the company’s physical environment and employee wellbeing. These challenges can also be printed on posters so that the employees will regularly read them.

Why is this important? We want these idea challenges to seep into employees’ subconscious so that they start to think about them without knowing it. This means that when they are in the shower they might start to creatively think of solutions, almost without realising it. Hopefully a Eureka! moment will occur and an idea will be birthed.

Ease of capture:

I am open to suggestions here but we need to have a way that employees can capture their ideas as soon as possible after the idea has been thought. In the same way as the only way a person remembers a dream is if they write it down as soon as they wake up, it is possible that a person will forget their great idea they had in the shower if they don’t write it down.

An idea management system will be used to capture the idea as soon as the employee is able to but I am thinking that something physical could also be provided to the employees that will encourage them to note down the idea as quickly as possible. Perhaps it could be doing a voice note on their phone that could be transcribed as a rough draft into the idea management system.

I am completely open to ideas on how this can be done…

Harnessing those after-hours ideas

It is slightly tricky that potentially the best time for your employees to have fantastic ideas is also outside office hours. We don’t want to create an environment where all an employee does is related to work but also want to prime our employees” brains to still perhaps come up with those ideas.

Making idea management a fun game where employees get rewarded for coming up with ideas is a great way of enabling this and then incorporating the two earlier suggestions.

Idea Storm can help you create the best environment at your company for ideas to be generated and evaluated and we also have a world leading Idea Management solution – Crowdicity – to assist you with this. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and we can work out a way of making your company a constant source of great ideas!

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