Innovation and the Idea Pipeline

July 24, 2017 2:59 PM | Laura Chartier (Administrator)

Written by Guest Blogger, Alexis Fielek, Senior Operations Training Specialist at United Heartland and SEWI-ATD Member

Innovation is one of those buzzwords, like “alignment” and “strategic initiative” that we hear all the time in the corporate world.  It’s a shame, because it really is one of the most essential survival tools a business can tap.  Without innovation, organizations become stagnant; things are done the way they “always have been” and the competition passes by, fueled by new technologies, efficiencies and approaches.

I work at United Heartland, and I am lucky enough to serve as the chair of UH Innov8, our Innovation Team.  This role has really helped me experience the value of tapping into the diverse perspectives of coworkers and leaders across our company, and our sister companies. 

It’s also reinforced for me the value of good information management.  When we first started soliciting ideas from employees, we used an Outlook inbox and I captured everything on a spreadsheet.  After our first Innovation Week yielded over 200 ideas, this became seriously unwieldy.  Ideas had to be entered manually, the team members researching had to remember to go in and add updates, then make sure they were keeping the suggestors informed – it was challenging to stay current.

Then, we discovered the Idea Pipeline.

With the Idea Pipeline, our employees click a couple of links and are automatically logged into a user-friendly idea management system where they can add their ideas for how we can maximize efficiency and cost savings, generate new revenue and increase employee engagement and satisfaction.

Researching and tracking ideas is much easier too.  The five-star ranking and endorsement functions make prioritizing easy and objective; we can assign ideas to Idea Managers, track and post updates, sort by status and generate automatic emails to innovators.  Users can subscribe and receive updates on the ideas they choose, so everyone is in the loop.

Because of the Idea Pipeline, we’ve seen an increase in the number and quality of ideas received, the turnaround time for research and response, and an overall rise in awareness about just how important the creative ideas of our staff are to the success of our enterprise.

It’s made a huge difference for us, so I wanted to pass it on.  If you know of a business that would benefit from a streamlined, effective way to solicit, track and research the ideas of its employees, please spread the word, and check out the Idea Pipeline official website ( for more information.  Happy Innovating!

About the Author

Alexis Fielek, MLIS, CAWC, CC, CL, is Senior Operations Training Specialist, at United Heartland, has 20 years of experience in education and training, and is an SEWI-ATD Member. Alexis has earned her Master's Degree in Information Studies from UW-Milwaukee; Bachelor's degrees in Theater Education, English, and German; is a Certified Authority in Workers’ Compensation; and has recently acquired her Competent Communicator and Competent Leader Toastmaster's designations. Her passion is engaging adult learners by any means necessary, including relying on her Theatre Education background to bring new ways of learning to her audiences.

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