Written by Susan Burns
I’m a strong proponent of the idea of “collective engagement” as a means to enhancing a company’s employment brand and talent attraction capability. If you’ve heard me present on talent strategies, read anything about crowdsourcing or explored the platform that’s been in place at InnoCentive you get the idea. InnoCentive is an excellent example of the potential inherent in collective engagement. It began as a consortium of pharma companies that were willing to pay out big dollars to solve big problems – like finding an ALS biomarker. It has since evolved into a very diverse platform from every perspective. My corporate experience has consistently demonstrated the power of unlocking ideas to solve big problems by bringing together a diverse mix of people to work on a project. The outcome is far better than if a homogenous group took on the same challenge – I use diversity in the broadest sense of the word – gender, ethnicity, geography, experience, etc…..
Collective engagement to enhance a company’s employment brand and recruitment strategy gets directly to the heart of where business and talent intersect. It offers companies new ways of thinking about talent attraction by engaging them at a granular level in their business. Prospective talent can learn first-hand about the company’s business – its industry, products, markets and even its culture. Companies benefit from the direct talent connections and expand their knowledge base through the project experience – new ideas that generate innovative practices to advantage their products, market positioning, processes and customer engagement. Ideally, social networking can accomplish this as companies invest in building an interactive community culture. The key is listening and exercising a commitment to continuous learning. Much of what we see happening today on social networks is still at the transactional level and companies are missing out on the deeper benefits of collaborative learning.
This week the U.K. Times Online introduced ‘Business Wisdom’. Beginning on Monday, March 2nd, leaders from four industries will present business challenges they foresee on the horizon. The CEOs from each company will then share something about their specific opportunity each week through a video message. People wishing to participate will be able to join a collective conversation and contribute ideas to help solve the challenge. Through a “peer review” process the Times will present possible solutions back to the CEOs. Its encouraging to see the Times leading this initiative and business leaders taking part in the process. Collective engagement has the potential to further momentum as companies find themselves with greater challenges around global competition and resource constraints.
Any company can weave collective engagement into their talent and business strategy by taking advantage of social networking platforms, committing to community building, listening to people interested in their company, and engaging in conversations. Over time there’s the potential for this type of collaboration to redefine how companies define an “employee” and where business contributions comes from. Ideally I’d like to see an Innocentive approach where contributors are rewarded for their contribution. As social networking evolves and companies recognize the value of collective engagement the opportunity is not only with recruitment strategies but also in how companies invite their workforce into the conversation to advance collaborative learning, a topic for another post. I’ll be following the ‘Business Wisdom’ initiative and may even participate. Maybe I’ll see you there!
Comment by Steve Boese
Made Thursday, 26 of February , 2009 at 3:54 pm
Susan – fantastic and really though-provoking post. I am very interested in how technologies can support collaboration, particularly for organizations determined to develop or enhance a culture of innovation. I agree that HR and other ‘internal’ groups should take inspiration from concepts like InnoCentive and be more proactive in leveraging the skills, talents, and interested of all levels of the organization, as well as the greater community.
I really enjoyed the post.
Comment by Dwayne Spradlin
Made Friday, 27 of February , 2009 at 3:07 am
This is a terrific post and agree on all accounts. I love your discussion of the Talent 2.0 topic. The notion that in this new economy, organizatsions must radically rethink how they engage talent is crucial and often missed. As we speak, the very nature of the working relationship is evolving and organizations will need to adapt – those that master this capability will be much more successful than those that don’t.
In the hopes that its useful, I thought I’d add a fun example from the front lines: InnoCentive works with a number of Foundations in addition to corporations. Recently, the InnoCentive Solver for a quite successful not for profit (NFP) challenge, not only spent a portion of the prize monies to travel to meet the organization he’d helped, he is now actually doing pro bono work for them. In a sense, the NFP extended its talent network and so did the Solver – perfectly rational and sensible in the Talent 2.0 world. We think this is terrific and quite inspirational actually.
Keep up the great posts!
All the best,
Comment by Joe
Made Saturday, 28 of February , 2009 at 11:22 am
Wonderful post Susan, Innocentive is a wonderful example. We are really in a time where organizations that want to innovate and want to adapt to changing circumstances must get clear on what diversity really is and what it really means.