Making Good Ideas Great is Part of the Product Management Process

by Guest Blogger: Jennifer Epting, Arc90

In an average workweek, we spend more than 40 hours navigating relations with colleagues, office spaces and the inner workings of the company as a whole. We’re no different here at Arc90. We wondered, “How many times a day do we see a way for the company to cut costs or make our Product Management processes better? How many ideas do we have about new business or ways to differentiate our products from the rest of the industry? And how much of this insight is lost because there’s no way to harness it?”

As a response to this need, we launched Kindling, an idea management tool that allows companies and organizations to recoup this lost brilliance and, more importantly, to allow ideas to grow into conversations that can become actionable.

Kindling And here’s the kicker: people are using it.

Since we launched Kindling last November, we’ve seen a variety of groups use our application: from the man who uses Kindling to organize his family (Where should we go on vacation? What should we invest in?) to the enterprises who want to organize their innovation thought processes. The app has shown itself to be a flexible way to organize brainstorming.

The thing is, we believe that smart companies care about hearing from everyone. We also believe that people in different positions can see the Product Management process from different angles; customer-facing staff, for example, will have good ideas on the best way for them to communicate customer feedback to Product Managers in a timely manner, while developers will have their own ideas of how product requirements are to be delivered. Inviting your entire Product Team to the conversation can develop even-keeled and strong process improvement ideas. And the importance isn’t who starts the conversation, but rather that the brainstorm is taking place in the first place.

What can you do to make sure your business is open to Product Management innovation? Here are a few thoughts we’ve come up with along the way:

1. Ensure that your colleagues feel as though they have a voice in helping the Product Management process evolve. People who have never participated in a conversation outside their department are involved in different aspects of the same company. In using Kindling, we found that the quietest members of our organization finally had a chance to speak up and the loudest members of our organization were finally able to get tangible about their ideas. What motivates these people to share ideas? Watching their ideas spawn brainstorms inspires them, as does the validation they feel when an idea they’ve submitted comes alive.

2. The real magic comes from collaborative opportunities. Though the traditional suggestion box allows members the space to submit a decent idea, ideas should be enriched and strengthened through conversation to get to a point where management can approve or reject them. Why are these ideas more likely to succeed? Simply because they’ve been through the ringer; with a larger group of people reviewing, commenting on and voting on ideas, the ideas that are approved by the Product Team as a whole are better equipped to stand on their own and get some real traction.

3. Use tools to facilitate and encourage your Product Team members to articulate and develop ideas for improving your Product Management process. Make sure these ideas and the conversations around them are recorded in a central, accessible database.

Kindling has grown since its humble beginnings. Today the app boasts a number of features, ways to manage and motivate users and the ability to quantify innovation within an organization. We’re constantly growing and adding capabilities, listening to user feedback and reveling in success stories.

In these challenging times, it’s important to remain open to new paths and unique strategies to improve your Product Management process so you can launch your products ahead of time. How will your organization find it’s next great Product Management idea? It’s a question worth thinking about.