Why There’s No Downvote Button

We’ve been asked a few times recently whether ideocial has a downvote button. As a customer-centric startup, we would ordinarily add that feature into the product straight away. We’ve listened, and come to a decision that we won’t be adding downvoting to ideocial. And here’s why.

It’s Not The Product We Want To Make

Ballot BoxThe aim of innovation management isn’t just to pick “best idea”. If we wanted to make that, it would have been much easier for us to produce flat-pack ballot boxes (made out of recycled cardboard, of course). The aim of innovation management is to eventually create the best version of your next product or service.

If it was obvious early in the ideation phase which idea was going to be successful, then we wouldn’t even need innovation management – just go ahead and implement the frontrunner idea. However, ideas are not a fixed, static thing and they change over time. The idea that initially looked the best might not still be the best later on, when a final decision needs to be made.

Without a downvoting button, feedback is a loop that only gets resolved by responding to concerns. The effect of adding that button is that voters feel that the action of voting is a self-contained and complete way of providing feedback. The presence of such a button means that there is zero incentive for a voter to go any further and give a reason for their decision (or any sort of meaningful feedback). The downvote itself is also useless to an intrapreneur trying to improve their concept.

Benefits of No Downvote

ideocial encourages open and honest feedback. Without a downvote button, feedback happens in an open, transparent forum. It gives intrapreneurs the chance to listen to those concerns and use them as a source of inspiration. At the end of the day they may even win over their biggest critics. As we all know, a vocal critic who has been won over is your most powerful ally.

It’s Not The Organisation You Want To Be

The effect of using a product with a downvote is to say to your colleagues that they can sit on the sidelines and throw stones. Through their choice of tool, your organisation has actively and publicly allowed people to veto others who are trying to make progress.

Is that the kind of organisation you want to work for?

In the spirit of responsive.org, the sense of purpose should be shared. There are times when people should wear their “Black Hat” and look for weaknesses, but they need to understand that the aim of doing that is to ultimately improve your products and services. The purpose is still shared.

Furthermore, people should be given licence to experiment and explore. They should be empowered to perform those experiments. Anyone with feedback, either positive or negative, should be making it in a transparent way.

Downvote DeskIf someone in your organisation wants to say “that’s not a great idea” – you want them to have one of two responses. The first would be to tell someone why they don’t think it’s a great idea and how they could improve it. The second is to go out there and create something better themselves.

What you don’t want them to do is sit on the sidelines silently, or worse still anonymously undermine what might one day become a great idea.

By using broken tools and processes for innovation, you are perpetuating a lack of purpose, empowerment, and transparency within your organisation.