I attended a joint TEDx and Bay Area Executives Meetup a while ago on how customer social networks are making an impact on innovation, and how employee networks within organizations are helping to break out of organizational silos and cross organizational boundaries.
The conference was divided into two sessions with separate panels on:
• Engaging innovation externally
• Engaging innovation internally
This is the second of two articles about innovation, community, and social networks. This post is about engaging innovation internally. The first post discusses engaging innovation internally.
Susie Wee, CTO at HP, talked about the diverse vehicles for innovation at HP including the
• HP Garage (18,000 registered users, 5,000 ideas – all read, all answered)
• Techcon – technology conference
• Co-Creation/Co – Innovation
Wolf Cramer at IBM talked about “action” networks. Need to translate ideas into action. No problem generating ideas. Everyone can generate ideas. But what do you do with them. Need to connect “idea networks” with “action networks”- who can get things done in the corporation. IBM provides seed money for 3 months and then must pass through various decision gates to pilot and before launch. He also talked about innovation hubs based on social media and collaboration.
Getting new features into a product is easier than creating a whole new product through crowd sourcing.
Rob Daniels at Salesforce talked about Chatter, their “Yammer. He found that Chatter was a great way to discover “hidden heroes” and celebrate their ideas. Top 25 influencers rewarded every 6 months.
Tad Milborn at Intuit talked about focusing on groups “already inclined” to be social and to talk about topics. Aim for the least barrier to entry. At Intuit, 10% of time is allowed to employees for innovation and creating new ideas. (Dan Pink in “Drive” points to Google employees who get “20% innovation time”, 1 day per week to work on a side project. Pink notes that Google News, Gmail, Orkut, and Google Translate, all came out of 20% time.) Their internal Brainstorm infrastructure has around 12,000 views per month.He pointed to “innovator fatigue” where after the bloom of the initial idea fades to be replaced by testing, business plans, marketing, and launch. Ideas need a whole ecosystem to bring them to fruition, not just an infrastructure for generating ideas.
Big takeaways for me regarding internal innovation were
• Innovation can’t be relegated or assigned to one group. It needs to pervade the whole organization if it is to be most effective. However, it does have to be driven centrally to ensure that diverse innovation initiatives are leveraged to their fullest.
• Need to translate ideas into action. No problem generating ideas. But what do you do with them. Need to connect “idea networks” with “action networks”- who can get things done in the corporation.
• Innovation needs to be made part of the corporate culture – “10% time” at Intuit, “20% time” at Google – time set aside for employees to work on their own projects.
• Rather than references to great articles (although these are useful too), need to Yammer more about what we’re doing, to create those serendipitous synergies.)
• Ideas need a whole ecosystem to bring them to fruition, not just an infrastructure for generating ideas.
To read my full write up of the Conference, see TCGen and Bay Area Meetup Social Innovation Conference