A couple of weeks ago I attended a conference where I was leading a stream entitled "Resistance to change". While talking about this, I asked the group about what they do to get ideas from employees throughout the organisation. One of the group members mentioned that it was not good enough for an employee to provide an idea without doing something to make it happen. They talked about a drop and run approach

Right away, I jumped on this. The interesting thing is that while employees have hundreds of great ideas very few people can actually make an idea happen within a business. Most of them wouldn't even know where to start. Employees often find fault with processes and things that they are asked to do, however they may not be able to articulate their ideas on how things can be improved.

One of the favourite topics that I like to talk about in regards to social media is 'ideation'. This is about providing the ability for people to share their ideas and for those ideas to be developed by their peers.

A good example of this is Mystarbacksidea.com. This is a website which is been provided by the coffee shop to allow its customers and employees to contribute their ideas. Once a new idea has been added, peers are able to vote the idea up or down through the simple click of an icon. Not only is there a voting system, but they are also able to add comments and those comments form the basis of a discussion.

Over time, as discussion takes place and ideas are voted on, the ideas get developed. Arguments and debates provide a platform for healthy discussion that will help people to think the idea through. Over time, management is able to review the top ideas and consider whether or not they should be included in the business.

When I was at IBM, we had this sort of functionality on our internal social enterprise network (social intranet). Employees were encouraged to provide ideas and this was done through what was called an idea jam. The ideas could cover things like product and feature enhancements through to process improvements throughout the business.

By using a system like this, organisations are able to harness the power of thoughts and ideas from both their employees and their customers. Some people would call this crowdsourcing. While reviewing these ideas, the organisation is also able to identify the people who were involved in the development of the idea. These people may also be critical resources during the implementation phase of the idea. What a great way to spot talent within an organisation!

One of the good things about social media is that it allows people to connect with people the matter with they are within an organisation. When an idea gets developed, it could involve a range of employees. Some of these employees may be an junior positions within your organisation while others may be an quite senior roles. This can be quite magical when people can connect and the sort of way.