Interview with Brightidea's Matt Greeley

Matt Greeley speculates that innovation may be the “killer app” in the world of social software and I struggle to try and dismiss that without diving headfirst into the gutter about what other killer apps may be out there. He does have a point. With the decay of domestic manufacturing and with a number of jobs surrounding the making of things evaporating as well, the market for innovative ideas needs to find a new venue, and in some ways the shelf life of those ideas is going the way of fresh fruit. Getting ideas to market, or even dismissing those which are not worth marketing will make the difference between success and less success… but capturing ideas is not all that there is to it.

I spoke with Matt one recent afternoon and got his thoughts about how his company seeks to facilitate this. The point which most struck home with me was the lack of hype and maturity of solution that Brightidea tries to bring to innovation management. Innovation is complicated when you get past the brainstorming. The brainstorming is the fun part. In fact, just going to lunch I’ve overheard enough good ideas to power a startup for a year. Conception is easy, but bringing up the ideas to the point where they can get their own job is the hard part. And I agree with Matt that the entire lifecycle of the idea is important.

The differentiator of Brightidea’s software solution is this end to end focus. I’m not ready to make comparisons between different solutions yet, but our conversation led me to believe that there is an understanding of the real processes, and the ways those processes can be done correctly or not, behind Brightidea. That the platform they have built is crafted around some amount of lessons learned through experience about how things can go right and how they can go wrong. Taking the initial ideas through an intelligent scoring and prioritization process and following them through the product development pipeline is an efficient way to mature ideas, and to keep them alive across multiple geographies and competing demands for resources. It also allows wider participation in the process.

Of course, it also gives them wider exposure and makes holders of trade secrets and founders of stealth-mode startups squirm. But Matt contends that in many areas, the acceleration of change is outpacing the legal aspects of intellectual property, that the lifecycle of products is shorter than it takes to get a patent issued. I’m willing to concede this fact in some businesses, but surely not all of them. And to allow for that, Brightidea’s software does allow for confidentiality where desired.

We ended our discussion with some talk about where things will go next and rather than talk about new features, Matt’s comments pointed towards the market for ideas themselves, suggesting that partnerships, an industry of intelligent integrations would be where the value lies, a market enabled by innovation management software. I think for the most part this is true, but will software alone sufficient to be successful? um… no. It is all about people, and tailoring software to fit the way that people do business. That is the lesson I think Brightidea has learned, and probably why they have more than a decade in business and continue to be around.

Looking over this so far, makes me think I must be incredibly boring. And probably I am dismissing one important feature of the whole innovation landscape. Inspiration. Yep, I definitely sold it short in this article, but the good new is that it is covered elsewhere. I recommend you take a look around the Brightidea website for details around their webstorm software and other products and some of the work that they have been involved in. Who is not inspired by electric motorcycles and rubber ducks?

Many thanks to Matt Greeley for taking time to talk to me and Janelle Noble for arranging everything.

1 comment to Interview with Brightidea’s Matt Greeley

  • Erin Schumpert

    Great post, Jack and some interesting points surrounding the issues of gathering ideas versus innovation. When you say that “capturing ideas isn’t all that there is to it”, I think that you’re absolutely right. A big mistake that many companies have been making and are still making today stems from the thought that the act of gathering ideas itself is enough to uncover innovation. But what do you do with all of those ideas that come your way? How do you find the best ones? Do they align with your company’s goals, objectives and long-term vision? A way to filter these ideas effectively is critical for not only uncovering new ideas but also executing on those ideas; making them come to life. One of Spigit’s key differentiators is the ability to not only gather ideas from the community but to bring the best contenders to the forefront. The software is powered with a mixture of intelligent algorithms and automatic idea filtering. These tools, combined with feedback from the user community, allow companies to find relevant, actionable ideas. Many Fortune 100 and 500 companies are realizing the need and benefit of an innovation/idea management platform. Spigit has helped companies such as AT&T, Southwest Airlines and AAA create an engaging and sustainable innovation community. Check it out: http://www.spigit.com

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