If you have an idea for improving a product, approach the product development team. Organizations set up product development teams to improve existing products and develop new ones. Although the team will originate most of the ideas for product development, team members encourage other employees as well as suppliers, customers and external development agencies to submit ideas. The team can then develop the ideas that are worth pursuing.

Step 1.

Review your idea as objectively as possible. How will it improve the product? What problems will it overcome? Are the suggested improvements important to product performance? Are the improvements likely to be important to customers? Will the improvements require significant expenditure or investment? Will that expenditure result in increased sales for the improved product? These are some of the questions a product development team will ask before progressing an idea, so you must be prepared to answer them.

Step 2.

Use a suggestion form. Ames Taping Tool Systems, for example, posts an online form on their website for people to submit ideas. The two key sections are: “Explain your idea” and “How will this new product help you work more efficiently?” Complete the suggestion form as accurately and completely as possible.

Step 3.

Post your idea on a forum. Community forums on a website are a great place to put forward ideas for improving products. Look for posts where people have posed problems or identified issues with a product.

Step 4.

Approach a company specializing in developing and licensing product ideas. Take this approach if you are not an employee of the organization that manufactures the product you would like to improve. The development company will provide an objective assessment of your idea. If the company considers that your ideal is strong, it will submit a proposal to a manufacturer on your behalf.

Step 5.

Consider patenting your idea if it is likely to have high earning potential or if it features new technology. General Electric states on its website page, Submitting Ideas and Inventions, “The company sincerely desires that every person protect him or herself to their own satisfaction before disclosing an idea to us.” Simply submitting an idea to an organization does not guarantee that you will receive appropriate financial reward for your proposal. Evaluate the potential of your idea and take professional advice before taking out a patent.

Step 6.

Make a formal request for compensation if your idea is accepted. GE asks proposers to submit ideas on different forms if they want compensation or if they are submitting the idea without expecting any reward.