Ideation in communities

By Tobias Bignell on 11 Jan 2023

Community-led ideation is really challenging and I have screwed it up more than I have succeeded. Below are tips and some pitfalls to avoid, so that you can learn from my mistakes:)…

Set your parameters clearly 

Think about the areas, themes and topics that are ripe for ideation within your organisation, as well as the areas where there is little leeway for change led by your members. Once you’ve established these parameters, make sure your members know about them too. 

Make sure to update long-gestating ideas 

Community Ideation areas can live and die by their updates. As soon as members feel like ideas have been abandoned or ignored, you’ll struggle to re-engage them. I’ve seen this happen in some huge brands and it can actually be more damaging than doing no idea exchanges at all. Update as regularly as you can on advancing ideas. Even if you have nothing to update right now, simply saying, “We’re still on this and I’ll share more soon”, can make a big difference to members’ patience. 

Educate members on why certain things won’t work 

Many ideas you get from your user base will not be feasible, but it’s important to let members know why not. By educating members and steering them to think in the way that you do, the quality of ideas you receive will improve over time.

Provide structural templates 

Give your members a loose structure/template for their ideas, including how to focus on the important elements. If you’re receiving a lot of ideas from members, this will make it quicker for you to review them.

Make sure the wider organisation is prepared (and willing) to do this with you

This is the most important part. Your organisation needs to be ready to receive & implement ideas from members. I’ve started ideas portals without the right buy-in, and it simply does not work. Think about the parameters mentioned above, as well as the approval process. They both need to work together effectively.

I hope this list is helpful! Should you ever need any tips & support with your community, reach out to my team and I any time 🙂

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