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Innovation Insights
by Stephen Shapiro

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Tip 3: Asking for Ideas is a Bad Idea

Summary of Tip 3 (of 40) from Best Practices Are Stupid.

Asking for Ideas is a Bad Idea

This is a favorite of mine and one that so many organizations get wrong.

Companies often seek innovation by soliciting ideas from employees, but this approach typically yields impractical, low-value suggestions, cluttering the innovation process. This inefficiency underscores the importance of the “signal-to-noise ratio” in innovation. Originally an engineering term, the signal-to-noise ratio differentiates valuable input (signal) from irrelevant or unproductive noise. In innovation, the ‘signal’ represents valuable, implementable solutions, while the ‘noise’ includes impractical or irrelevant ideas. To optimize this ratio in innovation, organizations should reconsider open-ended idea solicitation. Traditional suggestion boxes often get flooded with ‘noise,’ making the identification and implementation of the few valuable ideas time-consuming and challenging.

This chapter goes into a lot more detail and sets the stage for the next tip, which was the inspiration for my Invisible Solutions book: Don’t Think Outside the Box, Find a Better Box.