SoftwarePlant is now BigPicture! Learn more
Oct 04

How to gear Jira for Innovation management?

It’s the culture of innovation that lets creative juices into your organization. However, you can increase that flow by using some settings, features, and apps for Jira. Let’s quickly review the pro-innovation stuff available in Jira environment.

Jira’s built-in voting feature

Up-voting Jira issues is indeed the way to go when selecting the potentially lucrative ideas and scrapping the not so great ones. Ideation, however, is only a step towards innovation, because the latter covers commercialization, too.

So, the classic , well-deserved video (below) is right. Indeed, Jira has become more than an issue tracker, and you can create ‘Innovations’ project in Jira and let team members report challenges, as well as solutions (concepts) to those challenges, and then let everybody upvote them. Check the recording for the particular setup:


We like the tool-centric approach by David May of EFI, but what’s missing from the video? To answer this question we will dig deeper into the foundations of the Culture of Innovation. The quotes in italic come from Atlassian’s articles, easily searchable when you google ‘jira innovation management’.

All great human achievements are accomplished by teams – Atlassian

Jira itself does not recognize teams, but project management apps for Jira do. One such app is BigPicture – see the illustration 1 below. Wait, couldn’t individuals innovate? Why not skip teams when it comes to reporting challenges and solutions to Jira? Well, you could, but you would fail in the commercialization stage when teams begin to work on a concept, then on a prototype or release. Because innovations only ‘happen’ when they hit the market.

Hire people who share your values

And: People can’t innovate without teammates who live and breathe our values every day.

In a big organization, it might be hardly feasible to hire only those who share ‘our values’. But a corporation can preserve the ‘share the same values’ rule within particular teams. High risk tolerance, transparency, get things done approach are sample values, and you could use BigPicture Skills functionality to assemble individuals sharing similar values into teams, to promote the culture of innovation. See the below screenshot 1.

An innovative global team Jira

Fig. 1 An innovative global team in Jira.


Challenges, Inspirations, and Concepts

Prescribed by the above video are the challenges, inspirations, and concepts, that you model in Jira using Jira tasks and sub-tasks. Wouldn’t it be righteous to have the custom ‘Challenge’, ‘Idea’, and ‘Concept’ issue types, and custom links on top of that? You can define such an innovations-promoting Work Breakdown Structure in BigPicture and benefit from it throughout the Scope, Gantt chart and other project management modules. Even if just to promote Innovation terminology. See Fig. 2.

Be radically transparent to promote innovations (the silo problem)

And: when teams have the visibility into what’s going on around them, they’re able to come up with some pretty darn innovative ideas.

Visual, timeline-based tools, such as a Gantt chart, Roadmap and dependency board bring that cross-team visibility to Jira. Again, all of these tools are available in BigPicture. See Fig. 2.

Constraints actually make you more creative

And: Ideas that come out of this type of innovation are likely incremental improvements, and that’s ok.

Limited time is the most severe constraint. Agile project management methodologies use two-, three-week iterations to motivate teams; and Roadmap and Board modules of BigPicture exploit the concept of iteration. On the other hand, the proven timeline-based Gantt chart with its ‘Now’ marker, resembles a ticking clock. See Fig. 2.


Innovations project in Jira

Gantt chart view of BigPicture set up for the Innovations project (program).


Element of Gamification

The last one is not Atlassian’s quote; what they actually say is: Innovation can’t be forced and People need time and space to let their creative, innovative juices flow. But isn’t it a common sense that a project manager could push team members gently using Reports module of BigPicture and specifically the ‘# of Ideas per Team & Status’ report?

Jira BigPicture reports for innovators

Fig. 3 ‘# of Ideas per Team’ is a custom report available in BigPicture Enterprise. But, to motivate your innovative teams, you can also use standard drill-down reports available in plain BigPicture, such as the ‘Issue Type per Status’.


About The Author

With his automotive background Marcin goes beyond the 'Jira + software development' standard. He likes simple, up-to-five-sentence answers to complex questions.