A class of social software is helping companies become more entrepreneurial and none a moment too soon.
In a survey of 300 business executives, Interminds LLC, a management consultancy, found that nearly three quarters (71 percent) of business executives indicated that innovation was stagnant in their organizations.
This isn’t because innovation isn’t important to the organization. Interminds found that 87% of senior executives ranked idea generation and innovation as extremely or very important to the continued success of their companies.
Maintaining the entrepreneurial spirit remains a challenge for any growing company, but especially so for larger organizations. And it’s only going to get worse. For today’s emerging workforce, the gen Yers and Zers, the Oprah phenomenon has become their personal mantra. From MySpace and Facebook pages to Blogs to YouTube, these employees are far comfortable promoting themselves than previous generations.
Such a dynamic poses a huge challenge for organizations, particularly large organizations, where new employees are often expected to put the organizational brand before their personal brand.. They’re expected to advocate for the company beyond any core job description with no direct financial gain for their efforts. A clash then between the personal and organizational brand emerges. Emphasizing organizational good and disregarding the most basic motivator for innovation, personal gain, risks encouraging uninspired employees. Individuals without “skin in the game” will ultimately see little reason to innovate for the organizational good.
Now for the good news.
The extent to which companies harmonize organizational branding and personal branding is the extent to which organizations become more entrepreneurial, more creative. By creating a structure in concert with the corporation’s betterment that encourages and rewards personal branding, individuals will be encouraged to explore new ideas, new products and new ways of thinking. Both the individual and the organization branding improve. Both benefit.
Interminds found that of the 14 percent of business executives with a formal process in place for developing ideas, 84 percent were satisfied or extremely satisfied with the results they received, explains Bill Townsend, president of Interminds and the John F. Schoen Entrepreneur in Residence at the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University.
Yet those numbers improved significantly when a formal rewards systems for encouraging branding was put into place. Of the four percent with such a formal reward system, developing new ideas, 98 percent of executives were satisfied or extremely satisfied and 96 percent could point to substantial to significant ROI results.
The implications for business organizations are numerous. Here are just three of them:
Establish a formal system for rewarding employees for new ideas –Townsend recounts the story that of one secretary who designed a field employees reporting system with an estimated five years savings was $1.5 million. She was paid 50 percent of the first year’s savings of $304,000, or a check of $152,000. Talk about motivators.
Create a process for stewarding ideas from conception to implementation – Here’s where social software is particularly powerful, especially Idea Creation and Predictive Market software. Blogs, wikis, and social networks – all are powerful tools for personal and organization branding. Idea creation and predictive market software, from vendors such as ConsensusPoint, IdeaCrossing, IdeaWicket, Inkling, NewsFuture, and Spigit, provide the motivation for using those tools. They impose a structure to varying degrees of targeting the best ideas in an organization and then helping to bring them to fruition.
Consider making entrepreneurial resources and repositories available to the company – Provide employees with access to information and resources to validate their ideas. Make it easy for them to construct the necessary business plans that should be underlie any well thought out idea.
Are there problems with devising a inspiration system based on software? Yup. And tomorrow I’ll tell you six of ‘em that Google, Best Buy and others cited in their own deployments or analysis of these platforms.