Does any of that matter???
I recently participated in a conference on driving corporate innovation, and all of those business considerations - and a few more - were presented and discussed and analyzed. I think they miss the point.
Individual behavior and corporate culture are facing increasing dissonance. Gen Y has become famous for not following the established corporate rules, for being tethered to technology, for lack of loyalty to corporate employers. But Gen Yers are also actively involved in social issues; they want to follow their instincts and passions and creatively change the world. Aren't those great innovation characteristics? Corporations need to tap into that individual drive.
With the prevalence of social technologies outside the corporate walls, individuals have learned to find like-minded people outside the usual channels. They share ideas, pull information and insight from diverse groups, and create new partnerships as needed.
Individuals want to bring these characteristics into the workplace. They want to self-select ideas and communities for collaboration within corporate walls. Internal social platforms enable them to do so. They help organizations become social businesses, from the inside out.
Internal social technologies allow companies to decentralize innovation. Social technologies facilitate innovation. They drill holes in the silos. They enable fresh conversations and exchanges of ideas. And they are fluid.
IBM is at the forefront of using internal social technologies to drive innovation. Conversations and ideas are sparked by over 17,000 internal blogs, 1 million daily page views of internal wikis and internal information storing websites, employee profiles on IBM Connections, and 15,000,000 downloads of employee-generated videos/podcasts.
50 IBM innovation jams have occurred over the past 10 years. Back in 2006, IBM brought folks together in a jam to discuss more than 50 research projects in the company. Projects voted into the top 10 became incubator businesses funded with $100M.
IBM Smarter Planet sprang from grass-roots, community discussions.
Smaller organizations with more limited technologies can benefit as well. I worked with a medium-sized retail establishment that wanted to add social media to its marketing. We started, however, by implementing a simple, free internal social platform and creating a cross-functional, cross-department core social media team. Over the past 6 months, the cross-talk and new perspectives have dramatically accelerated innovation - from tactical improvements to the creation of an organization-wide "green" effort.
Internal social technology helps define innovation as a cultural norm and drive innovation into everyone's job. Employees behaving like individuals are the primary source of innovation. Let's not box them in.
Has internal social technology changed innovation for you?
Related posts of interest:
The Objective of Social Media is Lifestyle
Social Media and Innovation in IBM
IBM's Social Business Transformation