Hot! Brainstorming for Project Managers!

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brainstormBrainstorm, as an application, started life as an internal platform to manage innovation within Intuit but is now available as a product to its clients.  It started with two principle aims, which were to submit and idea and to search for an idea and this has grown into a user-friendly, intuitive tool for enterprises to share and collaborate on innovative suggestions.

In its internal form within Intuit, Brainstorm looks after more than 5,500 ideas, that can be managed at a team or a department level, and can be tracked by employees.  The application’s ‘pipeline’ functionality lets business managers and others with a specific interest to keep track of particular sub-sets of ideas.

In project management terms, Brainstorm offers a dedicated way to allow project team members to make an active contribution in bringing innovative suggestions to the fore.  Strong project managers recognize the skills and abilities within their teams and allow those to shine through.  Idea management is one way of promoting innovation within project teams and providing teams with a mechanism to share their thoughts with brainstorm screentheir counterparts in a structured way.

Sometimes, it is more likely that a problem will be known that needs an innovative solution. Brainstorm allows for users to outline a problem and seek input of appropriate ideas that might represent a solution.

It’s important to remember, though, that coming up with ideas is just the first step in implementing innovation. The ideas then need to be followed-through and Brainstorm offers flexibility in this to reflect the fact that ideas are fluid!  Brainstorm lets employees across an organization question, input into and validate ideas to help them move from the simple, light-bulb idea moment to a more concrete concept that has the legs and detail needed for implementation.

Brainstorm makes ideas visible across an organization, either through email notifications to appropriate recipients or through its tracking mechanism.

Whether an idea remains in Brainstorm right through to implementation, tends to depend on the team in question. Some teams may find they will require more advanced project management functionality to turn the ideas into reality, such as QuickBase, and as the idea matures within Brainstorm, may translate it into their more formal project management application. Ideas can, however, be managed through to implementation using Brainstorm and continuing within Brainstorm as opposed to moving to a more structured, user-limited, project management application means that ideas and collaboration opportunities remain open to a wider base of potential contributors.

In a technical world that is fast-changing, encouraging and capturing innovation within project teams can offer significant benefits in setting projects and teams apart from the run-of-the-mill solutions that often proliferate, which can then have a positive knock-on effect for the organization as a whole.

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Jan Birley

Jan holds a PhD in computing and started out in software development and IT training. She built a strong career as a project and program manager focusing on IT in the Health Service sector. Jan specializes in taking greenfield and immature services/departments to effective business-as-usual operation and is currently responsible for the delivery of clinical assessment forms into a high profile clinical system. Jan has authored 100′s of articles on project-management related topics.


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