I started this series of blog posts by stating that as the wheels turn faster, people more important than ever before. Then people had better be more engaged than the souvenir lady in this picture. A person who merely “goes through the motions”, mindlessly, without engagement and whose mind is anywhere else than in the present, is unlikely make any positively significant difference. And without engagement, there will hardly be much innovation either.
This is the last blog post of six on the theme of the advantages for companies and their employees of collaborating and working transparently. The previous are:
- Overview – As the wheels turn faster, people are more important than ever before
- Agility – More sensitive feelers and faster reaction
- Resilience – Bouncing back from setbacks or daring to take on new challenges
- Efficiency – Easier to find and leverage experts and experience
- Effectiveness – Through more direct communication channels
- Engagement, Inspiration and Innovation
These blog posts have been published in parallel in Swedish on the Smarter Planet blog of IBM Sweden
Spend some thought on this video by Steven Johnson about where good ideas come from (I’m sure he will appreciate you buying his book, btw)
Isn’t it exactly environments like these we want to create and support in our organisations? Like the coffee houses of the age of enlightenment and the Parisian salons during the Modernism era. Environments where people and ideas meet, both on purpose and by chance and where you can find both likeminded to collaborate with and different-minded to get inspired by. Since long, farsighted architects have created office environments to generate random meetings, but how do we do when associates are spread across great distances? How do we do to involve both customers, partners and suppliers?
My answer is not surprising: Through a transparent work culture and tools for online collaboration
In online communities, discussions and through following updates by colleagues, maybe especially those a bit on the fringe, your understanding of what the company and your colleagues actually do, as does the understanding of how you can impact on results. The probability of random meetings with ideas, knowledge and interesting people is multiplied. The foundation for both engagement and innovation gets much more fertile.
If you have special interests or ideas you want to build on, but lack resources or have knowledge gaps, it becomes incredibly much easier to find likeminded to grow those interests with or to put together a team of volunteers with supplementing knowledge and skills to develop those ideas further. A paradise for intrapreneurs.
Just think of something as simple but inspirational as feedback (potentially simple and inspirational, that is). Usually it something that employees get rarely, usually from their manager in a strictly orchestrated appraisal ceremony. Not very simple and definitely not inspirational. How inspirational isn’t it instead to suddenly get a Like from a distant colleague who you might be acquainted with, but not necessarily, on that presentation you just shared or on your blog post? Or when you see how many have downloaded that Excel-thingy of yours? Or receiving a suggestion on how to improve what you are currently working on – from someone “who’s done it” before? How much more inspiring and motivating won’t it get to develop and share your knowledge and experience?
Most companies who introduce online collaboration platforms do it aiming at efficiency, aa I wrote about in the blog post, Efficiency – Easier to find and leverage experts and experience. I am certain that the long range boost in innovation and employee engagement is much more important, though.
If you want to read more about how we at IBM look at online collaboration tools and transparency, I recommend you to read “The only constant is change”. And if you want to read more about how to transform your organisation to work more transparently, “Best practices for establishing a new way to work”.
What do you think of the value of employee engagement, innovation and what organisations can do to boost them?