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Rewarding people for new ideas, or not


Rewards for new ideas is a highly contested and discussed topic in the world of innovation. Let’s look at the concept of an “idea”. From the days of Plato the concept of what an idea means has been discussed. Is it only an abstract, metaphysical and “in mind” phenomena? Or, can we use Rudolf Steiner’s view that ideas are objects of experience that develop as we progress along our journey in life? Ideas develop as we are exposed to situations, conditions of life, education, and other situational phenomena.

Since we are an integrated being; humans love to collaborate and share ideas across many different platforms. Ideas can be expressed in various forms that include, visual, auditory, physical, etc. In most cases we will develop ideas over time using various tools to our disposal and integrate these with our thinking processes. Kant separated in his reasoning ideas from concepts. I like this approach as we need to take our ideas and develop them into appropriate and integrated concepts over time. These concepts need to produce relevant benefit or output for us to determine if the idea was worth anything in the first place.

Platforms include both humanistic and technological platforms. We want easy ways to store and retrieve ideas as they mean something to us. Human idea platforms include discussion sessions, meetings, and the plethora or other human-human interaction styles. Technological platforms are fragmented and diverse an can include to-do lists, email, social networks, post-its, idea management software products, etc. As humans we are idea machines that require an outlet for all of our thinking.

I have the sense that people either over value or undervalue the value of ideas as they progress through a lifecycle. In actual fact, the importance of an idea is almost always attached to a carrier. This carrier of the idea plays an incredibly important role in how the idea will be perceived by others.

So, in an organizational setting; if the CEO has a great idea, the entire (well, almost all people) organization will find the idea attractive. But, if a radical and outspoken person in the same setting has an idea that might be much more relevant or beneficial to the business, it will never get the same airtime as the former example. Is there a way to expose ideas quickly and develop reward systems for the collective to make the idea work?

With a world filled with ideas, how valuable can an idea really be unless its developed and used in the correct setting? Maybe the only reward for ideas should be for those that can put their energy in the right idea, to produce the most appropriate outcome, in the most optimal setting…


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