Should You Task Your Staff to Create White Papers to Spawn New Ideas?

By Michael Stelzner

Let’s say the idea vault is looking pretty empty.  No one at your company has really contributed any new thoughts in ages.  Does it ever make sense to ask your key players to contribute white papers, outlining new ideas for corporate growth?

This is the essence of a question submitted by Jason, working for an international organization:

I am working for a international high tech company and they have planned a management meeting with the 80 top managers (R&D, Engineers, Sales, Marketing, Finance). They will spend a week together, working on different issues. The outcome of the week must be that everybody has the same mindset and the same goals.

There will be presentations of the CFO, CEO etc. and there will be discussion about how and what technologies the company must develop. To structure the discussion we want to set up a workshop.

Is it a proven technique to give everybody the assignment to write a white paper for the company? From their point of view, and with clear guidelines of how to write it of course.

Here’s my response:

Jason, this is a great question!  First, to address your main question.  No, this is not a proven technique.  And frankly I do not think I have ever heard it being done before.  But wait.  Does that mean it’s a bad idea? Well…  Let’s take a look.

First, the issue of asking 80 top management folks to commit the time it takes to craft white papers may be unrealistic.  You are talking at least a 40 hour commitment for a non-writer to craft a white paper.  They just won’t have the time.  So, from a practical standpoint it’s not a viable idea.

A few ideas…

Why not give incentives for management to participate in this exercise.    Explain that if the company implements an idea directly resulting from a white paper submitted to the meeting, the author will be eligible for a bonus of up to $XX,000 dollars!  Money talks for a lot of folks and this will spur many of them to action.

I should also note that indeed white papers are the perfect platform to introduce new ideas.  You’ll want to give the executives some guide to make it super easy for them.  For example, a good outline structure (I have a bunch in my book) would be a smart starting place.

Keep us posted on how it goes?  Does anyone else have any advice to share on this matter?

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  • http://www.aparcher.com/ Apryl Parcher

    Hi Mike:

    Brainstorming is always a good exercise in business. Even if the managers mentioned don't have the time to develop white papers to present at the management meeting, perhaps a “white paper idea” workshop would be a good way to use the combined talent of their respective sections.

    Prior to the week-long meeting, managers could ask for outline suggestions from their teams…even have a contest for the most innovative ideas. Getting grass-roots participation is a great way to develop out-of-the-box ideas that managers might not have considered otherwise. It's also a good way to improve morale and foster better management/employee relations.

  • http://twitter.com/RiverwoodWriter Elizabeth Cottrell

    Makes me think that all companies, regardless of size, should create some sort of “Idea Bank” — a database with lots of searchable features to capture ideas that come from this kind of brainstorming session and elsewhere. A place from which stakeholders can pull when they need ideas for all sorts of reasons–to write an article, to make a speech, to offer to an outsourced PR firm or whitepaper writer, etc. Sounds like a job for a good software developer–I think it would sell!

  • nilim000

    white paper idea workshop would be a good way to use the combined talent of their respective sections.I do not think I have ever heard it being done before.

    Timeshare Resales

  • nastyalien

    Nice Post.

  • timeshareresales

    white paper idea workshop would be a good way to use the combined talent of their respective sections.I do not think I have ever heard it being done before.
    Timeshare Resales

  • timeshareresales

    white paper idea workshop would be a good way to use the combined talent of their respective sections.I do not think I have ever heard it being done before.
    Timeshare Resales