Growth Pains: Keeping An Ideas Culture Alive As Head Count Grows

childrensprogress2.jpgNew York City based Children’s Progress sells educational assessment software for children to educators. Their software is engaging for children, and user-friendly and informative for educators.
You might not sell educational software to schools, but I bet you have similar challenges as Children’s Progress, one of them being how to capture great ideas and obtain feedback from your employees when you’re no longer a 2 or 3 or 15 person business, but double, triple the size – or LARGER.
Some businesses operate as if they’re run by The Office’s Michael Scott; however, most business owners WANT feedback from their employees and customers. They want ideas. How else will your company innovate and grow and beat your competition?
Only two years ago, Children’s Progress was smaller (13 employees) and co-workers could just talk to each other across their desks or discuss the next big idea while grabbing lunch in the office. Today, they have about 40 employees.
Nikkie Zanevsky, Marketing Manager for Children’s Progress told me that back when the company was first started 11 years ago, the founders wanted to instill the importance of feedback and innovation into the start-up’s culture (see Mr. Jobs – not just Apple has a lock on innovation).

Employees would regularly meet in a conference room to brainstorm and share ideas. However, as the company grew, getting 40 people into a conference room that seats 15 become unwieldy and challenging.
They also considered using an email address to collect comments and ideas. But then, how would everyone see and respond to the comments and how could management know which ideas and suggestions are building the most traction?
The IT department went through a variety of solutions before they finally settled on Kindling.
Nikkie said that using Kindling, Children’s Progress employees can submit ideas, and their colleagues can vote, comment and place key people in charge of the idea (to implement it or choose not to move forward), among other things.
Kindling automatically manages the submissions and regulates them for relevance. Ideas that are getting the most activity show up at the top of the list.
What about your business?
Are you growing and find that what worked for you when your company was founded, or two years ago, is not working anymore?
If there’s a problem in your business, there’s often a technology solution you can consider to help improve things.
Of course, technology should NOT lead the solution, but it should be an enabler to facilitate and ensure the challenge you face is resolved. If your sales are not going so well, before giving everyone an iPad make sure you have the right sales staff selling to the right customers.
Work with your local IT consultant to find how technology can do the following for you:

  • Save time
  • Save money
  • Boost productivity
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Increase productivity
  • Increase revenue