Social media serves an incredibly important role in innovation. Social media functions as the glue to stick together incomplete knowledge, incomplete ideas, incomplete teams, and incomplete skillsets. Social media is not some mysterious magic box. Ultimately it is a tool that serves to connect people and information.
I’m reminded of a set of lyrics from U2’s “The Fly”:
“Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief
All kill their inspiration and sing about their grief”
Social media can help ideas grow and thrive that would otherwise wither and die under the boot of the perfectionist in all of us.
Do you remember the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”? Well, it takes a village to create an innovation from an idea as well, and social media helps to aggregate and mobilize the people and knowledge necessary to do just that.
But, that is social media working in the positive. We must remember that social media tools are just that – tools.
Just as easily as social media tools can be an accelerator for innovation, they can also be an inhibitor – if the participants or the presenters manage to make the less active majority feel that innovation is not something for them.
If you don’t want to be a fool with a tool, then you must be careful to make sure that the social media tools in your organization are fulfilling their role in a positive way and leveraging existing knowledge management and collaboration toolsets:
- To make innovative ideas visible and accessible
- To allow people to have conversations
- To build community
- To facilitate information exchange
- To enable knowledge sharing
- To assist with expert location
- To power collaboration on idea evolution
- To help people educate themselves
- To connect people to others who share their passion
- To surface the insights and strategy that people should be building ideas from
The better you become at the above, the stronger your organization’s innovation capability will become, the more engaged your employees will become, and the more ready you will become to engage successfully in open innovation.
For the most part, what I’ve been talking about is the role of social media in innovation inside the organization. When you leverage social media for innovation outside the organization, it gets a whole lot more complicated.
But, maybe that’s a conversation for another day.
In the meantime, please consider the ways in which social media in your organization might be able to strengthen inter-disciplinary cooperation, make the organization itself more adaptable, and how it could help to create an organization with the power to transform more ideas into innovations.
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