Idea Storm Blog – Creating Idea Challenges


Idea Challenges are arguably the most important part of Idea Management. If Idea Management is going to be used effectively, and staff involvement maintained, then properly thought through challenges are key.

Different challenges for different idea communities

On April 24th I wrote an article on how different idea communities are needed for different parts of a company. This article can be found here "Idea Storm Blog – Creating idea communities".

Essentially the three communities are:

· Entire company

· Divisions within the company

· Across divisional innovation communities

It stands to reason then that each staff member will receive multiple challenges – for as many idea communities as they are part of. These challenges have to be well thought through and crafted so that the staff member will be thinking about them. Remember that ideas don’t keep office hours.

How to create idea challenges?

Each management team, or leader, needs to be trained on how to create a well-structured challenge that will get the best engagement. These challenges are based on objectives that the company or division would like to achieve.

A good framework to use in creating a challenge has been around since the 1940s and is called Creative Problem Solving. An overview of this can be found on the Creative Education Foundation site.


The Creative Problem Solving (CPS) process consists of four areas – clarify, ideate, develop and implement.

For this article we will focus on the clarify area to help us create and structure our challenge.

The clarify phase is divided into the following phases:

- Explore the vision: Identify the goal, wish or challenge.

- Gather data: Describe and generate data to enable a

clear understanding of the challenge.

- Formulate the challenge: Sharpen awareness of the challenge and create challenge questions that invite solutions.

Therefore, to make a challenge engaging, a great amount of time needs to be spent creating something that people will respond to.

Idea Challenge elements and examples

An Idea Challenge statement will consist of the following elements:

Goal – State your objective (with a quantifiable outcome if applicable), and how you want to go about reaching it. Make it clear, concise, and specific to direct the conversation and ideas that will help bring it to fruition.

Time – Set a deadline. Avoid the opportunity for someone to share a huge idea if you want something by the end of the month. Save those game-changers for another idea challenge.

Tone – Make your challenge actionable. Frame your statement to focus on ideas that move the company forward.

Examples of Idea Challenge statements are:

- How do we boost revenues 10% for Market A by the end of Q2?

- What technologies can we leverage to improve communication for customer service?

- How do we reduce errors by 20% during production by the end of the year?

- Where are we wasting time in our buyer-side supply chain operations?

Idea Challenges are essential.

Having Idea Challenges are essential for the effectiveness of an idea management solutions.

If challenges don’t exist the following two things will happen: 1) Your staff will submit lots of low quality ideas, that will each need to be responded to, and it is likely that very few will be implemented.

2) Fewer staff will respond to an open idea submission request, which will severally limit the chance of a great idea being discovered.

Idea Storm engagement

We at Idea Storm would like to help you manage and structure your idea challenges and assist you in getting the most value from your Idea Management system and process.

Contact us at lance@ideastorm.co.za to discuss how we can work together.

Further reading

If you are interested in this subject further reading can be found here:

· The Complete Guide to Idea Challenges – VIIMA

· Launching an Idea Challenge in 7 Easy Steps – Ideawake

· The CPS Process – Creative Education Foundation

· The Basics of Creative Problem Solving – CPS, Jeffrey Baumgartner

· Creative Problem Solving – www.mindtools.com

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