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Capturing, Sharing and Acting on Ideas

Mar - 21 - 2012
Nicole C. Engard

Adam Shambaugh and Jill Luedke from Temple University gave the next talk I attended. They talked to us about the Capture and Idea project at Temple.

Adam introduced us to the term “Fuzzy Front End of Innovation” which means ideas in their infancy. This is the window of time before an idea becomes reality. Some of obstacles during this phase of innovation include:

  • Limited ‘buy in’
  • Ideas of ill-defined
  • Decisions are made on an adhoc basis

The Fuzzy Front End has three stages:

  1. Idea Generation
    Ideas can come from hunches, observations or even accidents. The importance here is to capture the ideas as they come about.
  2. Idea Screening
    This is when ideas of articulated to others in a public forum to allow others to evaluate the ideas
  3. Concept Development
    This is when ideas move from the abstract into reality. The idea ceases to be so fuzzy at this point.

Some tips for managing this stage of idea generation

  • Consider many possibilities for fuzzy ideas.
    Any idea a this this stage has the potential to be successful or unsuccessful. Don’t discount ideas at this stage.
  • Build an information system
    Establish a means of communication so that people can share their ideas with each other. This is a way to reduce resistance to change/innovation.
  • Attain internal cooperation and support
    This gives you a broader perspective on what innovation looks like and it reduces conflict. It leads to innovation that is smoother and less time consuming.

Up next was Jill to give us the practical way they’re using this in their library.

At Temple they were trying to improve the user experience at the library. They decided to star the ‘Capture an Idea Project’ as a way to gather ideas. They handed out an idea book to everyone where they could jot down their ideas for improving the library spaces.

One other way to gather and share ideas was the TU Experience Blog. They also had annual public services retreats where the staff could gather and capture and share and act on the ideas that were being shared.

One thing they learned was that even though the tech services people don’t sit out front in the library they had ideas to share so while they were invited to the first event, they were invited to the second. During the retreat they all put ideas up on boards and at the end of the day each person had 7 stars and they put their stars on the ideas they liked the most so that they could find the top 3 ideas and create an action plan to make those things happen.

One of these top ideas was to create a task force to “fix what’s broken”. This team was named the “Fix it team” and many of the staff actually volunteered to be on this task force. They were then able to create a mailing list for sharing things with the Fix It Team.

So .. why capture ideas?

#1 reason – so you don’t forget it! Mental notes don’t work, you need to capture the ideas and share them with others.

You also want to do this so that you can generate more ideas and allow them to percolate. You don’t have to know what to do with the idea, how to fix the problem, but by capturing it you can then come up with solutions.

What kind of things should we capture?

  • Problems you encounter
  • Behaviors you observe – especially those that are unexpected
  • Questions you have been asked repeatedly
  • Complaints you receive (there is a problem already in this case)
  • Cool stuff – this can be anything like if you see a cool display while out shopping

How to capture ideas?

  • Write it
  • Type it
  • Text it
  • Tweet it
  • Record it
  • Photograph it

Some tools to use to capture your ideas:

Keep your ideas separate from your to do list!

What did they learn at Temple?

  • Suggest various platforms for capturing ideas – not everyone likes using technology for this
  • Make capturing accessible – papers pinned up around the work area
  • Make sharing accessible – they have a blog, but not everyone knows how to use it
  • Give suggestions on what to capture – help to get people thinking about ideas
  • Give incentives – everyone has ideas, give them something for coming up with and sharing ideas
  • Be inclusive – make sure everyone is involved in capturing ideas! Don’t limit who can come in with ideas

The talk ended with the speakers asking us to answer a question about how we’re gathering idaes in our libraries using Poll Everywhere a tool I had never heard of before!

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