I had a tough time coming up with a label that adequately describes this hated employee behavior -- nothing really got right to the heart of what an idea person does.
After all, being an "idea person" doesn't sound undesirable. And without new ideas, won't businesses stagnate and ultimately fail? Absolutely.
The problem with the idea person, is that's all they typically offer. Ideas. They stop at that point, leaving the remaining 99% of the work of implementation to management.
This behavior used to drive me crazy -- why would it seem reasonable to these folks that the ten to fifteen percent of the organization's employees within management, should be expected to do all the work when it comes to moving the organization forward.
And, oddly enough, in most cases the "idea" has already been conceived. In most cases it has probably been discussed, prioritized and put on a back burner because there were no resources available to pursue it. If you find yourself tempted to say something along the lines of: "Can't management see that this needs to be done?", they probably have seen it. They probably just can't get to solving it now.
Idea people -- at least the type that ONLY suggest ideas -- are a dime a dozen. Give me an employee that can conceive of the idea, AND do some of, most of, or all of the work to make it a reality. Management needs ideas WITH implementation horsepower. Not just ideas. Someone that can make the new idea happen is worth ten times what the idea generator is worth. At least that's the way I see it, and I suspect most other managers see it that way as well.
There is a subset of the "idea people" category, that deserve a special comment. I'll call them "Bad Idea People". They're the employees that suggest strange, inappropriate, or completely off-target ideas, and then get angry when nobody jumps up and implements them. Being a "Bad Idea Person" requires a special capacity for ignorance or stupidity. And as one of my business mentors was fond of saying: You can't fix stupid.
In my experience, a "Bad Idea Person" will never recognize themself -- it becomes the manager's job to find this especially annoying employee type. I don't know of any solution to this type of person, other than sending them on their way to find employment elsewhere. Their managers will never satisfy them, and they will become progressively more disengaged until they are bringing down the whole team. Maybe others have had successes rehabilitating "bad idea people", but I certainly haven't.
As an employee -- be the implementor AND the idea person. This will certainly make you stand out in your organization as a major contributor.