Are you using any of the following tools in your company?
The first step to creating an open innovation culture internally is to facilitate communication and collaboration across the company. Beyond e-mail, employees need a way to share and discuss ideas, projects and experiments.
- File-sharing: When there are plenty of people working together, the team will need to share files in different ways besides an e-mail.
- Forums: A forum is probably one of the oldest tools, but it is still useful for discussing and sharing important ideas.
- Wikis: Wikis can be used to create shared documents. Some companies assign an active worker to make sure the wikis do not create chaos or become unnecessary. Users of wiki can create new pages and links within the content.
- Internal Social Networks: Facebook-like tools promote a social network within companies. This allows people to follow people with similar ideas or connect with people who may have expertise beneficial to projects they are working on.
- Internal Collaboration tools: There are many tools popping up such as InnoCentive's @Work product. These tools aim to not just foster discussion but promote action on the pool of ideas and discussions. Wiki's are great for transparency and ideation but are not tooled to promote actual action on the projects and initiatives discussed.
Before a company tries to collaborate and use social networking tools, goals need to be set. If your goal is to build a better knowledge base, a wiki can be used to keep the information updated. If your goal is to embed communication and transparency within your company's culture implementing an internal social network may be ideal.
There are different corresponding tools that can be useful, based on the goals you have set. A determination of the right tools should follow after everyone discusses what needs to be accomplished. Today's employee is not a 9-5 office centric persona. Instead employees are becoming spread out and work their own hours...these tools can keep them connected. Not everyone can meet in the break room, but they can interact by collaborating and networking. Start basic then move to more advanced solutions that fuel innovation.