The difference between an idea and a suggestion

Can we say that an idea pops up whenever we give a suggestion ? The question is more meaningful than it sounds. Corporations’ future is written with the ink of their ability to innovate. Any innovation, though, starts with an idea. To manage innovation begins by an ideas management.

Open companies foster all employee’s ideas. However, “after the initial excitements and few hundreds od ‘ideas’, you start seeing ‘ideas’ that are not ideas, but according to people who are supposed to take the idea ahead (senior management), these are mere ‘suggestions’ “, says  Prakasan Kappoth, a knowlegde management expert working for MindTree, in Bangalore.

The border between ideas and suggestion is not obvious to draw. For people in charge of sorting these creative propositions, that’s a challenge.  They don’t want to inhibit employees. What people can do, at least, is to educate their staff : yes,  there is a difference. They should become aware, after a while, whether they formulate an idea or a suggestion (with, likely, a lesser creative impact in the latter case). It would lower the level of disappointment should the suggestion not be taken into account as a big step forward for the company.

Steven Swann, consultant in creativity, with some others, brought part of the answer to the question, though: “Suggestions are seeds. Ideas are seeds that have sprouted and innovations are plants in full bloom…”

Steven Swann adds a parable which gives a pictured story of how this difference applies in organisations. How, if not taken seriously, it can alleviate the effectiveness of a social body. Ideas and suggestions need cares, but not of the same kind. Left alone, they can interfere on each other and never lead to an actual innovation.

In crisis time, senior executives are keen to limit spending on the creativity processes. It could be a mistake, hardly obvious when the storm is over…

(photo Flickr MaryCB)