We have got a R&D department within our company. It consists of a few 'core team members' who work full time. They are open-minded technical people who jump into new ideas and try to do whatever they come up with. Also there are a lot of ad-hoc / part-time members who want to do something else than their normal projects or want to try some new technology.
The process, in general goes like this:
idea -> research -> prototype -> sandbox -> project / product.
The first step: ideas is fine; there are lots of ideas, which is good ;) The last step is also fine because when an idea becomes a project it goes out of the R&D and falls into a "normal" management and processes.
The problem we have is with those three steps in the middle. As I said, there are too little core team members to cover all ideas by themselves and this is a bottle neck. On the other hand, when the other ad-hoc staff want to help, they can usually only spend a few hours a week so the progress is very slow and it is very hard to plan their work.
Is there a third way? To have a reasonable progress without queuing the ideas? How to organise their work so everybody is involved without the trade-offs?