Idea Management: Idea Generation Stage with a Qualitative ... B. Idea Generation . The stage of idea

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  • Idea Management: Idea Generation Stage with a

    Qualitative Focus

    Maria El Haiba National High School for Computer Science and Systems Analysis – ENSIAS /

    Learning and Research in Mobile Age – LeRMA, University Mohammed V of Rabat, Morocco


    L. Elbassiti and R. Ajhoun ENSIAS / LeRMA, University Mohammed V of Rabat, Morocco

    Email: {elbassitilamyaa, ajhoun}

    Abstract—Faced with an increasingly changing business

    environment, being flexible and more innovative has become

    an obligation for organizations. To better innovate and

    remain competitive, organizations must use all their

    knowledge, proficiencies and abilities of people to

    consistently create new creative products and services. Our

    work is centered on the beginning of the innovation process,

    commonly referred to as “Fuzzy Front End” focusing on

    Idea generation for new product development. The current

    paper presents a qualitative approach for managing idea

    generation stage within an innovation management process

    in order to ensure an improved quality of the first draft of

    Idea generation stage outputs. This paper presents a

    theoretical construct, defined as a qualitative approach to

    manage the emergence of Idea that aims to support

    activities of the Front End of innovation. We first present

    the global context of this work, the LifeCycle and the core

    concepts adopted for the idea generation. Next, we explore

    and discuss based on a set of defined characteristics some of

    existing creativity techniques. Then, we provide an overview

    of the quality concept in order to guide our research on

    developing a qualitative approach to support the idea

    generation stage. Finally, we conclude with future research

    directions for implementing the developed approach.

    Index Terms—idea management, idea generation, creativity,

    collaboration, knowledge, learning, quality, approach 


    If innovation is an important issue for existence of

    organizations and improvement of its competitiveness, a

    successful innovation requires to be well-managed and

    carefully planned. Although there are quite a lot of

    solutions for innovation management, few of them

    provide features dedicated to the previous and crucial

    stage of emergence of ideas. However, many authors

    have for many years shown the importance of these early

    stages in the ultimate success of an innovation [1]. As

    reported by Amabile & al., “All innovation begins with

    creative ideas. We define innovation as the successful

    implementation of creative ideas within an organization”

    Manuscript received November 4, 2016; revised June 1, 2017.

    [2]. According to this view, it’s apparent that an

    innovative idea can clearly make the difference between

    success and failure when it comes to developing products

    or services. In our research, we focus on novel product

    ideas and novel products as one of the essential bases for

    long-term competitiveness [3].

    When an organization develops a new product, it

    typically considers several hundred of ideas or

    alternatives, then selects a few of these for further

    development. At this stage of idea generation, the

    existing literature exhibits two major gaps that need to be

    taken into consideration. First, most papers focus on the

    number of ideas generated as opposed to their quality,

    with the tacit assumption that quantity leads to the quality.

    Second, the few papers that look at the quality of ideas

    look at the average quality of ideas generated as opposed

    to the quality of each idea, ignoring what most

    organizations seek, a few great ideas. This research

    attempts to address a significant need to develop a

    qualitative approach for managing idea generation, and

    shed light on this highly relevant but under-researched

    phase of the product innovation process.

    The next section introduces the global context of the

    study and highlights the main characteristics that we

    believe, can fundamentally support the idea generation

    stage and considerably affect the quality of ideas outputs.

    Section 3 presents an Overview of existing idea

    generation techniques, evaluates them and provides a

    synthesis of important learning gathered. Section 4

    describes the quality concept, defines the quality of idea

    generation outcomes and presents the approach. The

    paper concludes with a summary of the key directions for

    future research.


    The main purpose of this section is to present the

    global context of the study, define and discuss some key

    concepts which characterize the idea generation stage.

    A. Idea Management: Definition and Life Cycle

    Idea management is an integrated part of the

    innovation process. It principally represents the process


    Journal of Advanced Management Science Vol. 5, No. 4, July 2017

    ©2017 Journal of Advanced Management Science doi: 10.18178/joams.5.4.271-278

  • where ideas are solicited from employees, captured and

    then evaluated in order to determine which have the

    greatest potential to add value to the organization. In the

    approach proposed by Hansen & Birkinshaw, Idea

    management is facilitating the flow from idea generation

    to idea conversion in the innovation value chain [4]. In

    addition, it has also been termed the “Fuzzy Front End”

    [5] and is often classified as unpredictable and

    unstructured. In our study, we disagree with this last view

    because we suppose that well structured and defined

    processes must be used in order to better manage ideas

    and therefore better innovate.

    Our research forms part of a project aimed to manage

    innovation in organizations with a specific focus on idea

    management which is proposed by EL BASSITI and

    presented in his article “Toward an Innovation

    Management Framework: A Life-cycle Model with an

    Idea Management Focus”. Fig. 1 below represents the

    new proposed lifecycle model 1 .

    Figure 1. Idea Management Life Cycle [6].

    The main aim of this lifecycle is to manage idea from

    its emergence until it’s moving towards the project phase

    or its abandonment. This lifecycle consists of four key

    parts: four stages: Generation where new ideas are

    identified and formulated; Interlinking where created

    ideas are interlinked to other innovation deliverables and

    actors’ profiles; Improvement where interlinked schemas

    of idea profile are transformed into a workable concept

    through collaboration; Validation where current ideas are

    validated and the most promising one are selected,

    followed by decision points "Gates" that are planned to

    sift the attractive ideas, knowledge engine that enable

    learning to occur and flow, and contextual factors to keep

    alignment with organization's strategy, goals, needs... [6].

    As for us, we focus our empirical study on the

    generation stage, the first stage which is largely still

    unstructured in the most organizations. As mentioned

    earlier, most of prior research focuses on the number of

    ideas generated as opposed to their quality, or on the

    average quality of ideas generated as opposed to the

    quality of each idea. On our part, we estimate that if the

    1 For more details see: L. Elbassiti, R. Ajhoun, “Toward an Innovation

    Management Framework: A Life-cycle Model with an Idea Management Focus,” in Proc. 3rd JCIMT, Vol. 4, No. 6, pp. 551-559,

    December 2013.

    quality of each generated ideas initially is higher, the

    mean quality of the ideas created will certainly be higher.

    However, the objective of our research is to ensure an

    improved quality of each generation stage outcome called

    Draft Idea, and also a continuous improvement of quality

    throughout this phase.

    B. Idea Generation

    The stage of idea generation, also called "ideation",

    whose objective is individual or collective identification

    of new ideas or opportunities, is often recognized as one

    of the highest leverage point for an organization [7]. This

    is the creative stage where new ideas are generated and/or

    new opportunities identified. According to Titus, idea

    generation, or the act of generating novel, applicable

    ideas, is the activity most frequently associated with

    creative problem solving (CPS) [8]. Osborn stated that

    individuals are likely to experience the greatest difficulty

    during idea generation [9]. All this shows that idea

    generation phase is crucial to the success of the

    innovation process and should be taken seriously. It is

    important to recognize that the idea generation stage,

    while a distinct stage on its own, is also repeated

    throughout the innovation