Ideakeep blog
The Power of Idea
Interview with Dr Marta Perez.
Dr.Marta Perez Garcia- Ph.D. in Idea Generation & Innovation Management, Design Thinking. UX Researcher in Telefónica Engineering. Research and Innovation lecturer for ESNE (University of Design, Innovation, and Technology).
In 2018 we had a great opportunity to ask Marta some questions concerning her vision of idea management and ideation in general, the future of Idea and Innovation, the right motivation and mistakes while implementing Idea and Innovation processes.
Dr Marta Perez
Marta has a business background working in China, Poland, Mexico, UK, France, and Spain with multinational organizations such as Sky, Procter & Gamble and currently Telefonica R&D. She has a passion for user research and idea management so her expertise lies in designing new processes and tools to drive innovation, improve the quality of ideas and help identify user insights. She has always combined her work as a business practitioner with her academic research to keep up to date with the latest trends, processes and best practices. She holds a Master's degree in Design Research & Innovation Management at Cranfield University, a Ph.D. in Design-Driven Innovation at Birmingham City University and has published and presented several papers at International and well-known conferences.

List of publications:
  1. Everybody is talking about Voice Activated Virtual Assistants, but how are people really adopting and using them? Lessons from a multi-country study
  2. Voice Activated Virtual Assistants Personality Perceptions and Desires- Comparing Personality Evaluation Frameworks
  3. Building Trust Between Users and Telecommunications Data Driven Virtual Assistants
  4. The potential of Data-Driven Virtual Assistants to enhance Customer Experience in the Telecommunications Industry
  6. How to generate High-Quality Ideas: A Synthesised Idea Generation Framework to deliver Business Impact
  7. The Role of Visual Templates for Improving Teamwork Performance
  8. The impact of Creative Confidence in the Front End of Innovation
  9. The Impact of 'Idea' as a Keyword in Accelerating the Adoption and Use of Design within Business: Exploratory Manufacturing Based Study
  10. Driving Innovation: Reducing Uncertainty to Boost Quality of Ideas in Front End Innovation
  11. Building Creative Confidence in Idea Management Processes to Improve Idea Generation in New Product Development Teams
I have always been fascinated by the power of ideas to turn insights into successful products and services
How Idea management entered in your life?
Dr Marta Perez: I have always been fascinated by the power of ideas to turn insights into successful products and services. They fuel and trigger innovation, they can change behaviors, beliefs, habits, they can even change the way we see the world. The problem is that spite of its power, most organizations still struggle when dealing with them. So when I observed this in my job, I decided I wanted to deepen my knowledge in this area, to understand it and to address this problem. This was six years ago already!
What is your approach you've formulated during studies and work?
Dr Marta Perez: My main approach has always been the power of ideas a key trigger for innovation and business success. My research interests have focused on identifying both in academia and practice what are the challenges in Idea Management that need to be overcome and what are the key constructs to develop a quality idea. This has helped me to generate a synthesized idea generation framework that brings together the work of the last 60 years.
What is the audience of Idea Management course? Have they already had any results?
Dr Marta Perez: Anybody interested in ideas! I believe it is very useful for people from a more strategic background to open their minds and see the value it brings to the business but I think it is also important for designers and creatives as it can help them understand their role in a business setting. So in summary, for anybody who wants to explore how creativity and design can help drive innovation in organizations that are not necessarily creative.
What is the role of Idea Management? Is it, first of all, employee motivation or a real R&D and income rise?
Dr Marta Perez: The role of Idea Management should be a core part of New Product Development for R&D, which is driven by an innovation culture that promotes a formal IM process. I believe employee motivation is more influenced by the innovation culture of the organization than by the IM process.
What do you think about AI in idea management? Did AI achieve such technological level to replace humans or to help them create and ideate?
Dr Marta Perez: I have not experienced AI in idea generation but I think AI can help make connections in Idea development and selection as it enables clustering of ideas, identification of repeated ideas, common themes, etc. which can be rather useful to analyze the results.
We heard that financial motivation doesn't work, do you agree?
Dr Marta Perez: I agree, when it comes to generating ideas and engaging in this type of processes, financial motivation is not the right trigger to unleash creativity. I have experienced a change of mind in people due to the right type of sessions, new methodologies, better outcomes, seeing an impact on the company or the product/service. I believe this is the type of thing that motivates people, having the power to make a real contribution, it is not about money.
How do you think, what are 3 big issues of companies implementing idea management?
Dr Marta Perez: This has been one of my key research interests and something I have seen consistently in many organizations. First of all, there is a tendency to hold very informal practices, which is based on just grabbing a pack of post its and start ideating. Secondly, not establishing evaluation criteria to validate results and prioritize ideas, so it often falls into opinions, choosing your own idea or following managers' choice. Thirdly, there is a lack of appreciation for group facilitation, choosing the right person, with the right skills, involvement in the project… is crucial and it is often overlooked.
How do you think, why bottom-up innovation and idea management doesn't work?
Dr Marta Perez: Because it is not always considered a priority, and the reason behind it is that there are always quick wins and implementation focused employees that overlook the importance of properly managing ideas so quite often, bottom-up innovation is carried out without the necessary resources, time and processes not ending up in successful innovations. This impacts on the motivation of employees and organizations to pursue it as a key aspect for success.
Today, idea management market is very competitive. Why? What are the prospects and is there some specific domain which is more suitable for idea management integration?
Dr Marta Perez: I reckon companies are starting to really understand the importance and value of having a formal and structured idea management process. However, I believe it is currently more valued in creative organizations so there is a prospect more management-driven companies will start to appreciate the power of IM for business success and start integrating it in their innovation culture.
Which roles should take employees in innovation management implementation process?
Dr Marta Perez: They already have a crucial role, which focuses on bringing their expertise, knowledge and thinking into the innovation process. When it comes to implementation, employees have the power to properly evaluate and select quality ideas that are suitable for their implementation. They are a key aspect during the entire innovation process, whether it is conceptualization, development, and implementation.
if there is not a clear set evaluation criteria, many often it falls into personal opinions or "manager's choice" which also decreases motivation to participate in future idea generation sessions.

Dr Marta Perez
While implementing idea management, what mistakes the companies make more often?
Dr Marta Perez: In my opinion, and under the research I have carried out over the years, I find a lack of idea evaluation criteria is a key aspect to fail in idea management. This impacts on two different ways, first of all, participants of the sessions tend to vote for their own ideas or just the ones they like best, not the novel, original, feasible, etc. ones and if those are not implemented they feel frustrated, considering their opinions are not valued. Secondly, if there are not a clear set evaluation criteria, many often it falls into personal opinions or "manager's choice" which also decreases motivation to participate in future idea generation sessions.
Why people are so hard to be motivated to generate ideas?
Dr Marta Perez: Because many people have systematically experienced group brainstorming as the only idea generation methodology, which sometimes is not very productive, and that has eroded their motivation to participate and appreciate the value of idea generation. When you see those ideas generated in a session are not moved forward, you lose hope in that process and start seeing it as a waste of your time. It is really important for employees to perceive that value in order to feel engaged in idea generation sessions.
Anybody can generate a mature idea or not? Could we learn how to ideate correctly? How?
Dr Marta Perez: We are all different and our level of creativity may differ, however, with the right resources, stimulus, facilitation, and tools I consider everybody can be able to generate a quality idea. Critical and creative thinking can be learned, but to do so, you need to have the right tools, methodologies and a good facilitator that can guide that thinking. The role of the facilitator is often overlooked instead of being considered a key role in idea management.
Anonymous ideas voids biased opinions, judgment and it enables introverts to participate more actively

Dr Marta Perez
What is your recommendation for those who would like to implement idea management?
My recommendation would be they should consider all aspects (facilitation, evaluation criteria, stimulus data, pursuing quality…) without underestimating any of them. If they properly prepare for innovation and idea generation, they will see great results.
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