Project Management: The Idea/Feedback Bucket

28th of July, 2014 10:00 AM

Things have progressed a lot in the last year and it's been an incredibly busy year. As the projects/companies I'm involved with have moved closer together as well as grown in total size, a larger need for a better way to distribute knowledge has arisen. As an effect, I plan on posting the learnings we make internally here on my blog in order to document as well as easily distribute/transfer knowledge internally.

The negligence of ideas and feedback

With all projects I'm involved with, regardless if consultant work or product projects, there is always a steady stream of ideas, feedback and comments on how to make things different and (hopefully) better. I believe it to be rather similar within many other organizations. In these organizations, at best, there might be the physical suggestion box, or perhaps in one or two forward-thinking big corp's there might be the internal (web) platform for innovation suggestions which seems to be very popular today. A suggestion box might work for gather ideas continuously without becoming a big hassle to use in the common working day, but it is very unstructured and is in experience very seldomly actively taken care of. The internal web platform for innovaiton suggestions is typically quite structured, but is often aimed at larger grander innovation suggestions. Further, it is often not as easy as to just put in a simple suggestion or feedback note - rather you typically have to enter more information around it, at least for the suggestion to be useful and properly reviewed/taken care of.

Simplifying and incorporating a culture of continuous ideas, feedback and comments tracking

Instead of adding another tool to the massive amount of tools every person have within any significant organization we have decided to go down another route. Internally in all the companies I'm currently involved with we use Asana to keep track and manage our projects. We use Asana a lot due to it's flexibility and simple way of fitting different types of projects with different needs, and we use it for basically everything regarding project management. Note, project management is not, and should never be, something only the project manager uses and keeps track of! It should be used by everyone involved. Thus, instead of separating the stream of continuous ideas, feedback and comments tracking from our core tool we've incorporated it. Whenever any person has an idea, feedback or comment that person simply adds it underneath a special 'Idea/feedback bucket'. This way it automatically gets tracked in a structured way (along the specific project). We can add tags if needed or split the idea bucket heading if turns to big - this is all extremely simply done with Asana and something that everyone I work with is extremely comfortable with doing.

Simple note on how to do it

When adding an idea, feedback or comment, it is important to take time to write a clear and concise title and text. The size is not the important part here - that depends rather on the idea/comment itself. However, it is important to be fully inclusive on what the idea/comment entails. It is very easy to just write down a quick note but much better is to write a full explanation of the idea, what problem it solves, alternatives, etcetera. It is so easy when an idea pops up that you assume that everyone will understand what you are writing. If you do it will become useless as most likely nobody will ever take the time to dig into your vague description and try to understand the problem - then I'd argue it's a waste of time to put it down at all and should not be done.

To summerize
  • Continuous improvement is as important as innovation. Ideas, feedback and comments are critical to any organization that wants to achieve a steady level of high quality.
  • It should be easy to add ideas and comments to a project. By incorporating it to Asana, we use a tool which everybody is working with continuously everyday and very comfortable using.
  • By adding it to a separate heading in Asana to the project we are currently working on, we get structure without any significant added bureaucracy or work.
  • When adding an idea, be sure to be clear and consice meanwhile still covering the idea or comment fully.
  • Review your ideas, feedback and comments regularly. At the least, they should be reviewed every sprint or at a similar interval (if needed, this will be a separate post with more details).

Comments and feedback are of course very welcome!

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Carl-Johan Blomqvist