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Why Ideas Are Core to Enterprise 2.0


Brian Solis spoke recently on what the future of social networks will be. Ideas, it turns out. As I wrote on another blog post:

Solis, leading thinker in the integration of social media and PR, recently spoke on an intriguing concept: ideas connect us more than relationships. The premise of his argument is that ideas are what elicit passion in people. They animate us, and if we find someone with a similar interest in a given idea, we connect.

Then there was this observation by Intel’s Enterprise 2.0 lead Laurie Buczek on the only quantifiable value they found in their Enterprise 2.0 efforts:

Where we did quickly find quantifiable business value during an ideation proof of concept.  Ideas that are discovered and turned into action have produced dollarized return of business value.

Both Brian and Laurie are pointing to the unique nature of ideas. Brian talks of ideas as connectors. Laurie talks of ideas being “discovered”. If Enterprise 2.0 rests on delivering value through collaborative, emergent and social means, ideas are the top basis for leveraging these qualities.

Of course, from a pragmatic, what-do-businesses-care-about perspective, innovation is a top priority.

The top-down, Board-level importance of innovation is not a surprise. As I’ve seen repeatedly with our enterprise innovation work at Spigit, ideas are an excellent bottom-up basis for Enterprise 2.0.

Ideas Are Me

Credit: -: pranav :-

Perhaps the most important aspect of social is the ability to express what you’re thinking. Ideas fit this dynamic quite well. Ideas are…

Expressions of my creativity, ingenuity and problem-solving

Inside companies, we see things that we know can be improved. We see opportunities that need to be explored. We know a good answer for a particular challenge put forth by managers.

Every time you have an idea, a bit of you bonds to it. Your way of thinking, your understanding of context, the experiences you’ve had, the expertise you bring to bear, the work aspirations you have.

Ideas can be small, giving you satisfaction in fixing something obvious to you. They can be big, offering the possibility of work that elicits your passions.

This is powerful stuff. It is a unique intersection of something that helps the company with something that personally satisfies you.

Ideas Are the Basis for Finding Like-Minded Colleagues

When I post an idea, I create the basis for finding others. That because when I post an idea, I’m making…

Credit: cauchisavona

A call for your interest

Think about that. The act of publishing an idea is a broadcast across the organization. It’s a tentative query to see who else feels the same way. Or if not the same way, who has an interest that overlaps mine.

This is unique to ideas. Ideas are potential. They are a change from the status quo. There are others who share at least some aspect of your idea. In large, distributed organizations, where are these people?!!

My idea is my call to form my own virtual team, to see who can help me accomplish something of value to me and the organization. I contrast this with other types of activities one might do under the Enterprise 2.0 umbrella: status updates, project tasks, writing a common  document, adding content to knowledge wiki. Those aren’t calls to form virtual teams.

Ideas have a unique quality in team and community forming, consistent with the emergent nature of Enterprise 2.0.

Ideas Are Social Objects

A key consideration of any framework for interaction is, “what are we going to talk about?” Within the enterprise

Credit: Akshay

environment, an idea is…

A social object for our interaction

The concept of social objects is powerful. It illuminates the core basis for why two or more people interact. They share an interest in some thing. We are complex beings, with multiple different interests. We won’t ever match up  with someone else exactly in terms of what animates. But social objects allow a sort of miniature Venn Diagram of our common interests to flourish.

Hugh MacLeod pragmatically notes, “The Social Object, in a nutshell, is the reason two people are talking to each other, as opposed to talking to somebody else.”

Leading designer Joshua Porter, also known as Bokardo. In his post, Finding Innovation in Design, he describes the AOF method of social experience design:

  • A = activity you want to support
  • O = social objects that define the activity
  • F = features are actions people take upon social objects

You build social-oriented sites around a core set of objects and activities which attract people.

Ideas, because they represent something new, something that can affect your daily work, are terrific social objects. An idea is a proposal, and a natural basis for interacting. Contrast this with posting a document, or a page of knowledge, or a status update. Those are lower wattage, more ephemeral social objects.

Ideas Become Projects

Ideas get attention. They propose to change things, and they will need work. An idea is…

The basis of a future project for us

Credit: The National Guard

What makes ideas so powerful is they are changes to the status quo. This means:

  • They’re going to affect people’s daily work
  • They require some work to make happen

This imbue ideas with a certain vitality. It gives them a power not seen with with other types of social computing activities, save projects themselves.

Another important aspect is that ideas will elicit passion in certain users, those we talked about earlier. If there is a chance to become part of a project team working on the idea, that is exciting. Consider times in your life you got to be part of a team, working on something that excited you.

Ideas have these qualities: possibilities, change to work routines, chance to be part of an exciting initiative. Projects have a certain aspirational quality for us employees, and ideas tap this aspect well.

There are many types of content and activities – social objects – that are part of a social computing initiative. I’d argue ideas, for a host of reasons, should be considered top amongst those social objects.

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About Hutch Carpenter
Senior Consultant for HYPE Innovation (hypeinnovation.com)

29 Responses to Why Ideas Are Core to Enterprise 2.0

  1. Sharing Ideas it is a unique intersection of something that helps the company with something that personally satisfies you. Engaged Employess, Solid Organization!
    Great Article!

    • Thanks Susana – engagement is a key outcome of having employees more engaged in the innovation process.

  2. Andrea Meyer says:

    We’ve been talking about this topic on #KMers, and your post expertly articulates the main points we were discussing. Well said! I especially agree with your point: “Ideas Are the Basis for Finding Like-Minded Colleagues.” Thanks for yet another great post!

    • Thanks Andrea – if I’m on a par with the #KMers, I’m doing something right.

  3. Good article Hutch, enjoyed reading it :)

    • Thanks Boris – your social team post was right on target with what I wanted to write.

  4. Gil Yehuda says:

    Hutch, another brilliant post. Thanks for sharing it.

    • You’re too kind Gil – thanks.

  5. Mark Bennett says:

    Very nice, Hutch! Your post meshes well with what Rob Cross and Robert Thomas point out as the primary obstacles to innovation. Basically, they are: 1) ideas that don’t get recognized as opportunities due to an inability to connect the idea to the right expertise that would have seen an opportunity in the idea, and 2) once the idea is recognized as an opportunity, the inability to test and prototype it rapidly and decide whether to continue to invest or not. Both result in the loss of ideas being transformed into innovation. Treating ideas as social objects focuses attention and resources in a way that can overcome these obstacles.

    • Hey Mark, thanks. I know and love Rob Cross’s work on social network analysis (and he’s a prof at my alma mater UVA). Also, the value of better, more diverse connections and their impact on innovation was empirically documented by Professor Ron Burt (http://bit.ly/3xoPM5).

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  7. Bruce Elgort says:

    Fantastic blog entry!

    • Thanks Bruce

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  9. Mike says:

    Great piece. Ideas do establish commonality, and start the dialogue.

  10. Sumeet says:

    Great insights.

  11. Hutch has hit on the raison d’etre for the Corporate innovation Project.

    http://www.linkedin.com/groups?about=&gid=2398853&trk=anet_ug_grppro

    Recently retired Proctor and Gamble CEO, A.G. Lafley, says that the greatest scale driver in modern business is shared knowledge. That, he says, can only be achieved by ensuring that 50% of all innovation — across all parts of the business model from HR to technology — be external in origin. And that can only be done in a highly collaborative environment. As Hutch calls it, Enterprise 2.0. P&G’s reward: during Lafley’s time, operating earnings to R&D coverage went from 2.3 to 7.2, a stunning result.

    Another way of looking at this is as my great friend, Kirk Nakamura, the Chairman of Panasonic does. He says that the only way a company can scale profitably is by choosing its “black box”, the thing or process that contains its core IP. The rest he says must quickly be outsourced — this could be way, way more than 50%, note — in order to shorten time to market and gain leadership in the minds of customers.

    No surprise then that Kirk is the Chairman of our Board of Advisors at the Corporate Innovation Project.

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  22. Sharing Ideas it is a unique intersection of something that helps the company with something that personally satisfies you. Engaged Employess, Solid Organization!
    Great Article!

  23. myuresident says:

    once the idea is recognized as an opportunity, the inability to test and prototype it rapidly and decide whether to continue to invest or not.

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