One of Mary Crannell's pet peeves is people who are not living up to their potential. And at work, she thinks, stifling corporate environments can be as much to blame as the individual.

Crannell said her start-up, Idea Sciences Inc., has a tool that can encourage collaboration and help each employee believe that he or she is adding something valuable to the company.

"I really believe that one of the things that can help organizations be healthy is giving people the chance to contribute their ideas and their goals," Crannell said. "It's a waste of resources if people aren't inspired. I've seen people when you can unlock the creativity that they have . . . and it's wonderful."

Idea Sciences is based on technology purchased from Science Applications International Corp., where Crannell served as chief operating officer of the innovations consulting group for more than three years. The software sets up a system that allows employees to vote on decisions affecting the company and kick in other thoughts and ideas on the topic. The software then records and analyzes the outcomes for organization executives.

Equally important, Crannell said, is that the software creates a record on how the company reached each decision so that firms can develop what she calls an "institutional memory." Idea Sciences software also allows employees to collaborate on specific projects through the Internet and track the results of each venture.

For example, a company that has just merged with another can get input on how the two should be integrated from employees at all levels, giving individual workers a voice in the progression of the new firm.

"Given the current economic conditions, people really need to make decisions, and they don't have the margin of error that they used to -- people really need to be thoughtful," Crannell said.

Idea Sciences' Mary Crannell says her software helps people contribute to their organizations.