Idea Management and Design – You Mean PKM?

It's One Big Networked World

Yesterday I started the first of my four-part series covering my thoughts and impressions on the four topics presented in week 3 of the MSLOC430 cMOOC. I started with crowdsourcing, the message I came away with there are so many problems that can be solved and tasks that can be completed, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Today is a new term for me, but it sounds familiar. Idea Management and Design, that sounds close to what I know as Personal Knowledge Management (PKM). Of course this is  my first impression without any interference from the outside, we’ll see if my impression holds true though.

After reading a few lines from the MSLOC430 blog it really does sound like PKM. Harold Jarche has many models and forms of making sense of information and learning with his Seek-Sense-Share framework.

Breaking down idea management from the MSLOC430 blog, it’s very familiar to me:

  • Sourcing – who contributes ideas, and how do you collect them (seek)
  • Filtering – how do you evaluate ideas to find the most promising or innovative. (sense)

It’s just missing share in there.

I’m thinking the first difference I might see in this would be that idea management isn’t just personal, it can be for the good of a company and can be group knowledge.


The blog post talks about Open IDEO and ideas being voted on and expertly reviewed sounds great, but does it lend itself more to group think? Everybody starts agreeing with each other and when an idea is new and radical it has a tendency to get shot down by the masses. As we’ve seen in the past, the masses can do some pretty horrendous things (and good too though to be fair!)

There’s nothing worse that I can see for an organization than it becoming one big group think. I hear the statement “great minds think alike” and I can’t help but cringe. Great minds absolutely do not think alike, that’s what makes them great, uniqueness. Maybe some great minds might cross paths on occasions but they definitely do not think alike.

The greatest minds do not fall into group think, they are not swayed by the masses. Great minds are not crushed by the weight of people voting that their idea isn’t good or should be thrown out.

So, could Open IDEO and the concept of idea management be a problem? Yes, it could. Group knowledge I think can be a problem.

While personal knowledge has the power to create great (and unique!) ideas, group knowledge has the power to create sameness.


While I do think there could be some problems with the model of falling to group think, there’s also some huge potential for great success and wonderful things to happen. As long as ideas aren’t thrown out completely and they’re judged by people who actually understand the details of them, there shouldn’t be a problem.

It seems the OpenIDEO platform has potential to not fall prey to the bad things that can happen with group knowledge. With a system in place to account for the biases of people and the lack of understanding of people, it could succeed in doing something great.

Going back to organization knowledge, the same possibilities of success holds true as with OpenIDEO projects. Tapping into new great things that people can come up with together holds a lot of power to change the world or organization.

My Experience

As I was writing this I recalled an experience I had over a year ago at an organization. Every year everybody would get together to plan innovations and share with the rest of the company something great they came up with.

I participated and found the experience to be somewhat comical, somewhat of a madhouse. It started in a big room with everybody displaying boards and samples of what their project is all about. This is after painstakingly preparing the project and getting approval to take part from “leadership”.

It was a great experience and everybody in the company got to vote on the “innovation” they thought was the most worthy of being implemented. While the project I worked hard on with several others did make it as the top voted project, some others that made it very close to the top too.What is considered innovation at this thing? Well, bagel Monday was considered an innovation. Bagel Monday sounds cool and all, but it doesn’t sound like an innovation.

What is considered innovation at this thing? Well, bagel Monday was considered an innovation. Bagel Monday sounds cool and all, but it doesn’t sound like an innovation.

I think my point in bringing that up was that these processes where people vote, and executives, or leaders have the last say are prone to a huge amount of abuse.

Our project never did make it through the last round, but we were approached by the CIO to present to him personally because he wasn’t a judge this year. It was a somewhat success for us to make it that far, but unfortunately I have to say I didn’t make it much further in rolling it out because I was in the last month of employment there. Best to go out on a high note, and that’s the way I continue to live.

Your Thoughts

As always, I’m interested to hear what your thoughts are. What is idea management and design to you? Do you see the relationship to PKM?

Don’t worry, I won’t bite, nor will anybody else (I hope). Discussion is great and I truly do appreciate it (and in most cases you’ll get a reply within an hour 🙂

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