Combing the outside world for potentially useful innovation ideas is necessary but not enough. Managers must find ways to ensure the best new ideas reach those who can exploit them. Some do this via an “idea connector” who links up the “idea scouts”—people with well-developed knowledge and social networks outside their company but limited networks within it—to the R&D engineers and others who can develop suggestions.
What’s the Big Idea?
Companies need formalized processes for people with ideas to get to people with the influence to move on them. Central to Google’s success in this is VP Marissa Mayer, who holds three weekly sessions where she is accessible to all Google employees who want to pitch a new idea. She brainstorms with them before deciding whether to champion the ideas to company leaders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.