A few years back, I helped a large, very compartmentalized and extremely silo-ed global organization launch an internal competition. Its goal was to promote greater sharing of ideas, information, best practice and innovative processes. Leadership recognized that business units and functions had effectively been allowed to ignore the rest of the enterprise. Significant opportunities and resources were left underexplored or untouched. They wanted to signal a cultural change but weren't prepared to spend millions — or even hundreds of thousands — to achieve it.
The design was simple, clever and cheap: top management would recognize and reward people who demonstrated an ability to cross-functionally get real value from their colleagues and cohorts. We created two complementary yet competitive awards: "Thief of the Month" — a modest prize and high-profile internal acknowledgement for teams and small groups who "stole" an idea or innovation from another unit and successfully incorporated it into their own business; and "We Wuz Robbed" — a comparably modest prize and recognition for having one's group's best practice or process adopted by another internal group.
Dual prizes created a symmetrical "marketplace
" where employees were simultaneously encouraged not just to look for interesting ideas to "steal" but to think about which of their own best practices deserved wider internal promotion. The competition thus incented both "supply" and "demand" of knowledge worth sharing.
It worked well. Formal competition led to numerous informal interactions. We had roughly 200 entrants to review after the first 100 days. One winning finance group promoted an Excel macro that helped business units more easily calculate a key performance metric; an HR group from one division "stole" and repurposed the online 360 degree job review process from another. The first year saw fairly high profile quarterly awards celebrated on in-house blogs, emails and internal events. The second year saw semiannual reinforcement. I've been reliably informed that the awards were bundled into an annual enterprise-wide event the third year and that the firm had a network of maybe 300 or 400 managers/leaders for whom informal sharing and benchmarking had become a norm. The competitions had sparked new kinds of value exchange inside the firewall.
This "enterprise marketplace
" emerged before the Jives, Yammers and SharePoints had materialized as intranet social media platforms. Today's digital collaboration tools and apps are terrific and terrifically powerful but I'm both surprised and disappointed by how lazily they're deployed. There's almost a Say's Law — supply creates its own demand — approach to enterprise social. The presumption is that people will use the tools because they have the tools. The reality our internal competition observed is that people will even create new tools if there's a recognized and rewarded need to be fulfilled.
People don't become more collaborative or better collaborators just because you give them excellent tools for sharing any more than they cook more or prepare better meals because you give them excellent food processors and ovens. What made our little competitions work was a call for and a commitment to treating one's colleagues as value-added resources and customers for innovation and ideas. We asked people to become more intrapreneurial and open to internal offerings. We didn't force anyone to become one over the other, but the competitions — and the C-suite's involvement in them — made clear that the organization needed to become a more vibrant marketplace
. The competitions — not new budgets or new hires — were investments in new value(s) creation. This market made even the (relatively) crude digital platforms for sharing relevant and valuable.
Today's tools are so much better. Bur I fear that top management's commitment is not. What are the competitions, recognitions and rewards your organization uses to incent and encourage information sharing? Who is the "Thief of the Year" with a well-deserved reputation for taking and building upon others' ideas? Whose team got "robbed" the most when it comes to either incremental or breakthrough "best practices" or process improvements? I know literally a dozen organizations that hold banquets to celebrate employees who sell the most products or win the most patents. I know barely a handful who celebrate the individuals and teams who look across the enterprise to repurpose a great idea and/or who successfully market an internal innovation that transforms how work gets done. Yes, the tools matter. Culture matters more.
How does your culture recognize and reward the sharing that can make a (huge) difference?
I came across these article from havard business review
What would be the main idea of the above article?
Thriving for CHANGE