By far the best way to harness the creative powers of everyone in the company is to use the intranet as a sounding board for discussion, says Colin Beveridge.
Aficionados of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will instantly recognise “Share and Enjoy” as the motto and company song of the Sirius Cybernetic Corporation, manufacturers of technology par excellence. We should seriously consider adopting the principle of “Share and Enjoy” as a core belief in every IT department.
But I’m not merely advocating a shared risk and reward relationship with our business colleagues and partners. I’m talking about sharing ideas. And by that I mean sharing our ideas in the broadest possible sense, not just those directly related to our routine business.
Most of us enjoy the chance to exercise our powers of creative thinking but very few of us actually get a regular opportunity within the workplace to share our creative thoughts with others, despite the obvious potential for innovation and organisational development.
It seems that we are all much too busy, just getting on with our jobs, to spare some of our precious time for reflection about how we could do things differently, which is a great pity because it means that we are not really getting the maximum benefit from our people.
And yet in our hearts we all know that somewhere in our own organisations there are good people with great ideas but no easy outlet for sharing and development.
This is not only frustrating for the individuals concerned but also highly questionable commercial practice. We ignore this crock of gold at our peril.
So how can we unlock this precious resource? Fairly quickly, I think. And fairly cheaply too, if we apply a bit of technology to our creative thinking.
We can start by setting up unmoderated discussion forums on our intranets and encouraging everyone to contribute their thoughts and ideas, anonymously if necessary.
Or, perhaps, the use of cyber identities/ personal nicknames could add a touch of colour to the whole process. After all, a radical new suggestion is likely to get far more attention if it is attributed to The Red Spanner, rather than Jane Bloggs from Bought Ledger.
I have seen some really good intranet discussion forums on my travels and I am surprised that more companies have not yet embraced the technology internally. I suppose that’s because it takes a modicum of management bravery as well as a general commitment to Share and Enjoy.
Colin Beveridge is an independent consultant and leading commentator on technology management issues. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org