“As we think about the evolving platform itself, we have to think about how this platform is going to fundamentally change business processes,” said Rhodin. Internal processes must change to adapt to the evolving platform, which should contain a social media platform, a content management system that understands the rules of business and an analytic system to understand how changes will occur.           

Change Your Hierarchy to Match Your Approach

Jim Grubb, the VP of Corporate Communications Architecture and Chief Demonstration Officer of Cisco Systems, discussed how a virtual, non-linear structure in the enterprise can effectively manage employees and empower employees to perform at a higher level. Cisco has been striving to eliminate the barriers in both time and space, but Grubb says it hasn’t happened without challenges. The enterprise must encourage and set up rewards, or the virtual processes won’t be successful. 

Through Cisco’s new integrated hierarchy, the system has fostered a stronger accountability for its employees and its products. In the enterprise, a team comes together to work on a problem in a virtual fashion. When needed, the enterprise can bring together the right group of people to focus on a specific problem.

Importantly, however, companies should be looking for means to document the intellectual property they are gaining through these social platforms.

“The real-time components of collaboration are just as important as the asynchronous components,” said Grubb. “Companies should capture the virtual intellectual capital, and regenerate it to be shared asynchronously.” 

Create a Platform for Creative Genius

Christian Finn, Director of SharePoint Product Management for Microsoft, talked about how the power of an open idea forum can lead to more enthusiastically engaged employees. The idea platform increased innovation, agility and competitive advantage within Microsoft and could do the same for many enterprises.

Finn attributed the scalable process of ideation to effective thoughtful leadership, proper process management and a change in culture. He believes that ThinkWeek is successful because of the right software and the notion of crowdsourcing.

During Microsoft’s ThinkWeek, more than 400 authors and 200 papers are generated for review. Authors from 13 countries submitted ideas, and more than 3,000 participants are active in the ThinkWeek process. In result, they created an advisor process and an application process to help maintain the rigor of debate from the most influential people in the business. The arena provides a platform for employees to be heard and inspired to change the world or influence the company. 

ThinkWeek creates a sense of reach and value, which is applicable to any enterprise system, large or small:

  • Generates more and better ideas
o   More and better perspectives critiquing those ideas
  • Fosters an arena for professional development and networking
o   Helps articulate thought
o   Connects employees with like-mind colleagues
  • Identifies people and insights
o   Through the social platform, creates an avenue to be seen
o   Visualizes common trends
o   Articulates important data
  • Creates a treasure trove of thoughts and thinkers
o   Identifies the idea generators with certain types of thinking
o   Archives a backlog of past ideas for future development
  • Examples of Business value
o   Ideas such as the Connector Bus transpired from ThinkWeek
o   Generates employee satisfaction and productivity during commute