Posted tagged ‘IBM & Innovation’

How IBM Uses Social Media To Spur Innovation

February 7, 2010

Casey Hibbard has a great article about how IBM uses social media to spur innovation. As a 114 year old company IBM with 400,000 employees located in 170 countries, does not have a corporate blog.  IBM lets employees talk to each other and the public without intervening or controlling conversations. 100,000 employees actively participate on 17,000 internal blogs.

Hibbard points out the following regarding IBM’s approach to social media:

What Works: IBM’s Culture for Social Media Innovation

  1. Stand back
    Have guidelines, but don’t police from above. Employees tend to self-regulate.
  2. Involve employees in SM planning
    Let employees write the guidelines and they’ll feel empowered.
  3. Give them the tools—and a green light- Not every company can create their own tools. Look for powerful social media tools and encourage employees to use them to do their jobs better.
  4. Use crowd-sourcing – Bring together employees, clients, partners and friends for powerful idea-sharing.

IBM has thousands of voices using social media to exchange ideas, advance conversations and do a little self-promotion of their projects. IBM uses the web to obtain input from thousands of people as to what innovative projects to support. 50 projects were put up for discussion and vote with the top 10 projects receiving support as incubator businesses with $100 million in support.

As Hibbard states in her article: “… collaboration and knowledge make IBM what it is. And that’s a company with $12.3 billion in earnings on more than $100 billion in revenue with a 44.1% gross profit margin in 2008.

If a company the size of IBM can use the power of the Internet to spur innovation, surely government can as well by tapping into the thoughts and ideas of employees and the public. Too many elected officials and government department heads operate under the old school model of command and control, where orders are given and information is tightly controlled. As IBM points out the key to success today is collaboration and the wisdom of crowds, which only happens by loosening control, inviting people to participate and listening to what they have to say.

What do you think about utilizing IBM’s approach to encourage collaboration and new ideas in government?