Social 'Ideation' Does Not Equal Innovation - InformationWeek
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Social 'Ideation' Does Not Equal Innovation

Soliciting ideas on a social platform can spark a conversation, but translating it into results requires more strategy.

For the most part, theirs was not a talk focused on the use of enterprise social software. They made some occasional references to it as a theme of the conference and a type of innovation some attendees might be trying to introduce in their companies.

When social collaboration fails, it's usually because "there's no thought process associated with why use it," Labash said. The professors said they do see more organizations getting interested in social business as a way of generating "engagement no matter what," recognizing that even trivial "water cooler" conversations create connections across the organization and can lead to "serendipitous innovation" and social learning. They also gave a nod to the power of collaborative innovation networks, or COINs, that include people inside and outside the enterprise.

Lightman devoted a portion of his presentation to talking about the "Generation Z" digital natives just arriving on campus -- the young people who will come into the workforce with particularly elevated expectations for the digital workplace set by social media and online games. Members of this new generation also tend to be very non-political, although sometimes that hurts them when they fail to understand the political obstacles in their way, he said.

On the other hand, the fact that more than 90% of kids under 18 play computerized games could set them up to be talented innovators, Labash said. "One of the things it teaches them is how to fail, then iterate, optimize and try again."

One of the problems with corporate incentive structures is they don't recognize the power of this cycle of failure and learning, he said. "If you want to create a culture of rapid prototyping, you have to be able to fail quick, fail fast, and learn, learn, learn."

I would argue that social collaboration is also very relevant to one of their other recurring themes, which was that the makeup of innovation teams needs to stretch beyond the usual suspects and include people who will challenge your ideas and make you think harder.

"You've got to smash people together for innovation teams. When you have different inputs, you're going to get different outputs," Lightman said.

Of course, it's possible to conduct an online collaboration within a tightly controlled circle of people who all think alike. But an enterprise social network does make it easier to mix things up -- if you have the wit and the courage to do so.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr or Google+. His book Social Collaboration For Dummies is scheduled for release in November.

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User Rank: Apprentice
6/26/2013 | 2:32:39 PM
re: Social 'Ideation' Does Not Equal Innovation
Ideas can come from anywhere to support a company's
innovation management efforts. The ability to de-risk the idea is often more
complex then people realize and software alone can not accomplish it.

In addition to the issues that you raise in the article, the ability to
articulate an idea and tell its story is a weak point of most software based
idea generation approaches.

The point Krebs makes about the political skill of the idea owner is something
that can be watched and actively balanced with Lightman's point about
mashing up teams.

Once an idea reaches a threshold of popularity some small budget should be
available to support it with new team members with storytelling skill sets.
There is a technique called "Design Fictions" that is basically a
story (video or comic) about how the idea will fit into the regular lives of
the consumer in the future. When ideas are paired with a prototyping technique
like this you can short circuit political might.

The classic example is Motorola's Iridium phone. The founding company went into
Chapter 11 bankruptcy nine months after launching. The handsets could not
operate as promoted until the entire constellation of satellites was in place,
requiring a massive initial capital cost running into the billions of dollars.
The cost of service was prohibitive for many users, reception indoors was
difficult and the bulkiness and expense of the hand held devices when compared
to terrestrial cellular mobile phones discouraged adoption among potential users.

A simple design fiction story that realistically placed the
idea of the phone in context of the customer would have short-circuited the
political might that kept funding the idea development process to the tune of
$6 billion.

The story that the executives funding the project were telling themselves clearly did not match the reality of the consumer need.
David F. Carr
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
7/12/2013 | 4:44:27 PM
re: Social 'Ideation' Does Not Equal Innovation
I love the idea of "Design Fictions." Isn't that basically what a use case is supposed to be? Is the distinction that it's more detailed, maybe more imagination involved?
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