If you are a student of quality systems, you know employee suggestion systems help. If you are improving quality, detecting problems on a production line, fixing customer service, etc., getting feedback from customers and employees with direct insight makes a great deal sense.
It seems the President of the United States thinks that the way to fix the economy is to have the equivalent of a suggestion box. He first tried something called Idea storm to have people propose and rank new ideas for his administration. He keeps going to town halls (cover for campaign stops) to "Listen to the people" but spends most of the time talking. His newest tool is "We the People", to have citizens develop petitions for government action.
Suggestion systems are fine if you want to improve service or quality. Open Innovation and ideation are ok tools if you actually have a team that can implement successfully in your market. Open Innovation, often associated with ideation, is not really about "Ideas" but about working with partners in novel ways to resolve problems in the market place. Open Innovation is not a random process of gathering suggestions. The President's team should read books by Henry Chesbrough and Clay Christensen. Or maybe go take some classes at MIT.
Ideas are a dime a dozens. Solutions are the result of leadership and vision. The President is mistaken to think that leadership comes from a suggestion box. Success in leadership and innovation comes from setting an objective, advocating a position, convincing people that your ideas are valuable, and securing their support. The best leaders do with even with their opposition.
It really does not matter if the President does or does not get along with Congress. If he wants to practice "Open Innovation" he needs to engage business and investors. He should not listen to GE. GE knows how to run a multi billion dollar established entity. GE innovates buy buying companies, not creating new markets. Young firms find new markets, create new value propositions, and drive economic growth. Economic growth creates jobs. The President should engage with these innovators, Congress, regulators, et. al. in the following way:
- Ask innovators "What can we do to make your job easier" - this should include eliminating regulations, changing programs, etc
- Ask innovators "How do our current programs and policies help/hurt your efforts"
- Then discuss why its hard for government to do what these innovators want, discuss alternatives, and construct an alternative approach that best meets the needs of the innovators and government.
I call this process NOT (A vs. B) BUT C. The notion is that its easier for opposing parties to agree on a common but different solution. In which version C contains that which can be resolved from option A and B.
That aside, the best idea is to just decrease the size of government so that entrepreneurs don't have to come up with ideas to help the government make our lives more difficult. After all we are a country based on the concept of personal liberty, not central control.