You hate the slow tedious testing process your company has for its blockbuster product. Surely there is a better way to do things. You get onto the company’s new collaboration platform and connect with like minded people across various departments in the company. Discussions around topics of mutual interest start. Ideas for some new software tools to improve product testing get thrown around. One of them really attracts attention. Someone suggests that you collaborate to build a prototype. Others in the company take notice and join in. The concept gets refined continuously. The conversation spreads. Quite a few people are hearing about it. The energy is electric. Everyone is checking their message feed to see what the latest update is.
The first version doesn’t quite come out the way people expected. Some people lose interest. The conversation wanes. Suddenly one afternoon there is a post from some guy who stumbled on a new approach. The energy builds up again. It’s back to the drawing board. New ideas flow. There is feedback from front-line employees who know what exactly the customers will like.
The conversation spreads offline too. There are impromptu discussions at the water cooler, during coffee breaks and even just before official meetings start.
One day your boss stops by and asks if you can make a quick presentation of your prototype to senior management – they have been noticing the conversations and are impressed with the concept.
Or you could talk to your supervisor, write up a 1 page business note and wait for him to take it to his boss, who will then take it to the business head, who will then take it up with senior management and hopefully one day your idea will see light of day.
Social Networks are breaking down silos, creating ground swells, democratizing innovation like never before. All it takes now is one bright spark to get the fire going – it doesn’t matter where in the bureaucratic organization chart she fits.
Image: National Semiconductor LM741CN op-amp in a DIP-package, source: wikipedia