How Are You Vetting Ideas in Your School or District?

I stumbled across an interesting service called Vetter this week.  In its simplest form, Vetter is a digital suggestion box designed to get ideas from employees

What makes Vetter unique, however, is that it also allows you to create groups of employees who can read and rate the suggestions that are being submitted by their peers on a scale of one to five. 

Essentially, this collective review and rating process allows leaders to take advantage of the wisdom of crowds.  Ideas that are reviewed by a diverse cross-section of employees are far more likely to succeed simply because they have been reviewed by individuals with unique organizational perspectives and experiences. 

Better yet, this collective review and rating process helps to encourage cross-pollination across an organization.  When potentially innovative ideas are made transparent to everyone, intellectual collisions help to spark creative thought.

Vetter also sends "the boss" (read: the primary account holder) a daily (or weekly) digest of any submitted ideas with an average rating of two stars or better AND keeps track of the individuals who are regularly submitting the ideas that are highly respected by peers. 

There's real potential here for school leaders, isn't there?

I would LOVE to see — especially in large schools and districts — formalized processes established that encouraged employees to submit ideas on improvements in everything from practices to purchases. 

Not only do I believe in the wisdom of crowds AND think that school leaders would benefit from hearing the voices of a wide range of staffers, I know that school employees would benefit from seeing the thoughts and ideas of colleagues working in a wide range of roles in schools. 

In a profession where isolation — both physical and intellectual — is the norm, it's all too easy to get stuck looking at change through our singular lenses. 

Heck: I'd even love to start using a service like Vetter with my classes.  I truly value the feedback that my students give me about teaching and learning — but I don't have a tool that makes collecting and analyzing that feedback easy. 

Now, Vetter's not perfect

Because it is designed for businesses and not schools, users have to have an email address and be a part of an invited group in order to give feedback and to rate ideas. That means my sixth graders — who rarely have email addresses — won't be able to use the service.

I'd love to see Vetter create a more generic option that schools could use to gather feedback from students, parents and the broader community — which would require allowing users to submit and rate ideas whether they'd been invited by someone at the school or not. 

Vetter's not a free service either — and because it is primarily designed for business users, the pricing model is based on a monthly fee. 

I'd love to see them develop some kind of single use option — which would allow school leaders to collect ideas during focused school planning sessions without having the ongoing charge that goes along with a monthly service. 

But Vetter's certainly a tool that I think schools and districts might want to take a closer look at. 

We've simply GOT to do a better job at innovating efficiently — and idea management services that allow ideas to be submitted, rated and reviewed by larger groups of stakeholders are certainly a step in the right direction.