What would we need to do and how would we structure ourselves to take advantage of the creativity and innovation of everyone throughout the organization and go back to the ‘pre-Columbus’ thinking that the world is flat.
How do we build an organization where the young intern has the same voice as the CEO, where everyone at the table has an equal say, to leverage all resources and get ‘every brain in the game’. We build our balance sheets with assets such as property, factories and equipment but how do we tap into the hidden assets of ideas, innovation and creativity of our employees?
The answer is found in social media and building a social organization. An organization where everyone is free to collaborate, to think creatively and share their ideas publicly without any restrictions or constraints. Building a social organization ‘flattens’ the complete traditional organizational structure. Everyone sitting at the table can collaborate freely with equal status and start with the same social capital.
When our teams are using social media, surfing the internet and collaborating using the online forums I need to constantly remind myself that this is real work, it may be fun sometimes however these are real tools and have a real purpose, the same as the PC, phone and desk. Social media and networking tools are critical for the long-term creativity, innovation and success of our business. Valuable time can be saved by finding a quick solution to a problem on the internet and high consultancy charges are avoided because there is much information freely available to help resolve business problems. Technical questions can also be posted and answers identified in hours rather than days. I colleague told me recently that 80% of his technical problems can be resolved by accessing technical forums and other specialists who will give of their time for free. (a Golden word for a Scottish guy!)
When answers are posted then multiple people can benefit, individuals are empowered as they start to touch multiple people at all levels of the organization, regardless of who is sitting behind the computer screen. When you find a solution to your problem then you, in turn, want to share to help someone else and the social organization grows.
Although I have a very modern and open approach to these tools I still smile when I walk into an office and people quickly minimize their screens in order not to be ‘caught’ on the internet. The challenge for me as a manager is how to leverage these social networking and collaboration tools in a proper and structured way to align to corporate objectives and bring value to the organization.
Here are some ideas I have found helpful;
- Start slowly, if your manager does not fully understand the power of internet and social media in the workplace then search for some articles during your lunch break and let him/her know how beneficial they were to your business objectives.
- If your company has a corporate intranet site then use this as a source of information.
- Use your company’s corporate social media platform or team sites. Corporate social media is better started, sponsored and supported from the top of the organization, if this is not happening then contribute what you can to build momentum and encourage usage.
- Utilize public forums, technical websites and other tools to access information that will help you solve real business problems.
- Search the internet for other sources of information and if your find something beneficial let your manger know. Share what you find.
- For long term projects or initiatives then setup Google Alerts to have valuable content sent to your inbox. This will avoid you searching for it and saves a lot of time.
- Facebook is not seen as a viable collaboration tool for business, unless it forms part of your day to day job, check Facebook during your personal time to avoid conflict with your manager and preferably on a personal mobile device.
- LinkedIn can be useful to find technical articles and information. Not everyone on LinkedIn is looking for a job! There are many good posts and these are generally business related.
- Be careful about security of company information and other personal data. If these forums are hosted outside your company then pay particular attention to confidential information. You don’t want all your great ideas and hard work going to your competitors.
Follow these simple guidelines and you can unleash the power of personal creativity and leverage the creativity of others for your organization’s success. Think about it – what if your organization was to embrace social media, become a social organization and return to the ‘pre-Columbus’ thinking and became flat!
Making Steps and Leaving Footprints…
(The thoughts and ideas expressed in this blog are my own and do not represent the views of my employer)