Building on Ideas: The Wishing Well Wiki

duplo Note: This post was written with my friend and colleague Rob Veltman (@robveltman). We carpool together and regularly talk about innovation and culture. Rob is an innovative product developer always challenging himself and his colleagues to ask the right questions to solve problems and make wishes come true. Rob is deeply interested in new product development, processes for (breakthrough) innovation and sustainability.

How could we contribute to a more innovative organization? We ask ourselves this question regularly, help each other to come up with new ideas in this area and try to lead by example.
We would like to share with you an aspect of our daily practice, which is the observation that our colleagues can experience hesitance in being innovative. We will propose a solution to overcome this hesitance.

Knowledge companies consist of very smart people, educated in different disciplines. Their knowledge workers are confronted with all kinds of interesting issues, problems and challenges. Sometimes the assignments even seem impossible.
Generally speaking, we find most ideas for solutions and breakthrough innovations are done individually (mono-disciplinary). Furthermore we perceive that quite a number of employees are hesitant to share their drafty ideas, needs, desires, and wishes. We are convinced this can be attributed to at least three things:

  • employees can feel reluctance “to put their cards on the table” because they feel their half, draft, non-100%, “unfinished” idea will be heavily scrutinized. Too often we hear: “This has already been investigated”, “This can’t be done”, “This is not your task, it’s mine”, “Unrealistic”, etc.
  • employees can also experience reluctance because they feel their unfinished idea will be “stolen” and completed without getting credits for providing the seed of the innovation
  • employees often speak of ‘problems’ and ‘issues’ in a way that is too restricting, almost assuming beforehand that an optimal solution will never be found. The presupposition: “a perfect solution doesn’t exist” tends to block the creative process before it has even started.

For these reasons employees tend to keep their ideas, ideals, wishes and problems to themselves. At the most, they discuss their ideas with people from their inner circle, people they trust.

Changing terms
Wouldn’t it be great if we could overcome this reluctance? We believe this is possible by helping colleagues to be more open and transparent about their (and our) profound wishes. All smart employees can formulate what they would wish for with respect to products. If this is facilitated, supported and encouraged, we believe organizations will change in the following ways:

  • they will become more innovative and innovate in a more open, controlled and quick way,
  • no challenge will be too big; they will truly do, and be part of, ‘beyond the ordinary’ things,
  • they will build upon each other’s ideas and wishes

We are convinced technology alone cannot be the solution. However, we do think technology can support us and help us open up and move towards the evermore-innovative organization described above.
We would like to propose the following:

  • Set up a wiki called ‘Wishing-Well-Wiki’.
  • This wiki is clearly supported by high-level management.
  • It is fostered by a group of moderators, connecting wishes to people, and people to people, to make wishes reality.
  • This wiki is open for all employees (from all disciplines and all levels). Everyone is invited and encouraged to make a contribution.
  • This wiki has a clear format. All employees can describe their (product-related) wishes there. Typically these wishes are far-fetched, way-out. They are hard to realize alone, they need input from other smart people to evolve into an implementation.
  • The wiki supports sudden and emerging breakthroughs.
  • The wiki has built-in history. So, every input is recorded (versioned).
  • When wishes become reality the contributors get support from management (in time, money and resources) to realize their joint dream. (Of course, employees may be requested for a business case.) The results of the wishing well wiki can also be used as input for the strategy.
  • Regularly advertise wishes via intranet (e.g. ‘Wish of the Week’) and other channels to attract attention to them and stress their importance.

There are no costs in setting up this wiki.

What has to be clear is that:

  • Few ideas can be qualified as bad. In most cases a proposed embodiment, to realize the idea, can be bad/impractical/insufficient, but an idea/concept in itself is without form and mass and thus cannot be judged by arguments that relate to physical characteristics.
  • If someone qualifies an idea as “bad” or “not viable”, this person actually disqualifies his own proposal for an embodiment that first came up when he/she heard of the new idea.
  • We all know that “first time right” is an utopia, especially with something like innovation. It is generally accepted that the innovating process is a painstaking process that requires the input from many different sources.
  • In our view the real innovation process focuses on the process in which an embodiment is reshaped and transformed up until the moment that it is generally accepted that the end result is achieved or at least nearly met. Innovation, in our view, should not be aimed at the optimization of an idea itself.

These concepts fit perfectly on the concept of a wiki.

This idea, which is also called ‘inbound open innovation’, can easily be extended to the whole organization. Other employees in the organization can also have (product-related) wishes. Sharing them and building upon them, leading to innovations could be done on a global scale too. (Refer to Dell’s Ideastorm, Innocentive and IBM’s Innovation Jam for inspiring examples.) A more sophisticated platform than the wiki could be needed to manage this global process.

[1] Phil McKinney, “The Fear of Innovation”.
[2] Ed Catmull, “How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity”, in: HBR, Sept. 2008.
[3] Teresa Amabile and Mukti Khaire, “Creativity and the Role of the Leader”, in: HBR, Oct. 2008.
[4] Osvald Bjelland and Robert Wood, “An Inside View of IBM’s ‘Innovation Jam’”, in: MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall 2008.
[5] Allan Scherr, “Managing for Breakthroughs in Productivity”, Jan. 2005.
[6] Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity. Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention.
[7] G.S. Altshuller, Triz.
[8] James Cash et al., “Enterprise Integration. Teaming Up to Crack Innovation”, in: HBR, Nov. 2008.
[9] Jim Collins, Good to Great. Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, New York 2001.
[10] Meeting More Minds

External and Internal Activity Streams

Every now and then I run into something that really gets me thinking. Recently I ran into this presentation.

I went through it several times. And I think I'll do so in the coming days. Really great stuff!!

Activity Streams: what are they, how can we collect and understand them? This presentation focuses on public streams, mostly on the internet. But does this story also extend to the streams behind the firewall, inside organization? I think it should, but I'm thinking about how this should work. Of course the firewalls are coming down. But companies will still be protecting their information to a certain extent. My thesis is: These streams will be most useful if the distinction between protected and public information is mixed.

What do you think? And how do you think one stream of internal and external information can be devised? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

(Note: Thx Tom (@tvgtvg) for the discussion that led to this post!)

Social Media and Internal Communications - Breakout Session Océ #intra10

As you may have notice in my tweet behavior I attended Intranet 2010 this week. Just like last year, it was a great ride! Great location, interesting keynotes, interesting participants, good food, etc. I haven't been to many conferences that are so well organized and are simply great from beginning to end.

Jan van Veen, my colleague who is manager Internal Communications, and I also gave a breakout session. It was titled 'Social Media for Internal Communications'. I inserted the slides below.

I would like to thank the Entopic organization for organizing this conference again! And to all participants: We enjoyed your questions, compliments and interactions!

Intranet in 2020 #intra10

4th keynote at Intranet 2010 by Peter Hinssen.
Will intranets be around in the future? 4 fundamentals:
  • content (old, put stuff somewhere)
  • intelligence
  • knowledge
  • collaboration (newer, share things)
The trash bin is not used a lot in IT.
We are drowning in information but are starved of knowledge - John Naisbitt. Is information still of strategic value?
Paperless office
Consumerization of IT. Leading to new behavior wrt information.
Information behavior is key. It's moving quicker than hardware development.
Digital is the new normal. We are half-way there. Let's take this to the limit.
It's not information overload, but it's filter failure. Show me your folders and I will tell you who you work for.
The depth of information will go to infinity. The price of information will go to 0. Privacy, we will live in a fish-bowl society.
Patience is also going to 0. Users don't want to fill things out again and again. And the internet will be real-time.
Now reflect on this, what does this mean for intranet (teams).
The new rules:
  • zero tolerance for digital failure (Gmail down for 3 hours... Big problem, even on CNN. It had been up for 8 years...)
  • Constantly better isn't necessary. Good enough is enough. Refer to Skype and mp3 and Blueray and netbook. But it may not break. Speed is more important than perfection.
  • Total accountability. No more hiding. No complete control. Refers to Xobni.
Rethink your intranet using these rules.
Information behavior changes faster than information systems!!
Think about lifecycles of information.
Think about metadata (find things back, refers to Lakoff).
Where do you solve it? Don't focus on the display, but also on the warehouse.
Information doesn't work anymore. Not structured, unstructured, etc etc. It doesn't improve the quality of information.
Make the jump from information to intelligence. Relevance, types of content, reach of information and quality of content. An enterprise portal is not the solution, even though the CEO will buy into this.
But position your portal. How is it positioned, bottom up-top down, personalization, information architecture, etc. Refer to
It's very simple. Intranets are change processes. It's about information attitude, the future of the organization. Be proactive!

Award Winning Intranets of 2009 #intra10

3rd keynote at Intranet 2010 by James Robertson of Step Two Designs.

Innovation = originality + impact. Uncovering great ideas and approaches to intranet, so you can steal them (ethically of course).

James tells how the Intranet Innovation Award is set up. Jane McConnell is one of the judges. She should be one of next year's keynote at Intranet 2011.

CRS Australia is the Platinium award winner:

  • seamless connection with SAP (human friendly interface so tasks get done, webforms etc) > done with one technical person

AEP (USA) Idea system:

  • $8 million of concrete savings, $2 million in first month
  • first offline organization, then support via platform
  • organize around problems (a specific question!)
  • specific target: min. of $1.7 million dollars of saving
  • None of the generated ideas are anonymous (same for Océ). Anonymous posts are allowed but not published. They are sent to team.

Next example, Russian firm (CHTPZ). Integrates intranet with mobile. Lots of staff doesn't sit at desk. So push info to the staff and to the tools/devices they use.

Next award is for IDEO. Core: connecting people with people as richly as you can. They can fire off complex queries for people with certain expertise in a certain area. They applied their design research to their intranet.

Prophet (USA), Online performance measurement on the intranet. Improve and simplify the process. It saves them a lot of time.

Plus much more on the Step Two Design webpage. Contributions close on April 23.

Breakout session Sharepoint Pros and Cons #intra10

Breakout session by Toby Ward (and blog).

Gives a general overview of Sharepoint old and new versions. "Sharepoint does a lot of things, but does very few things very well." (CMSWatch) Search is ok, not perfect. Content management is basic, simple, but some need heavier stuff. Some clients have site sprawl. Although not many in the room seem to have this problem. Good integration with Microsoft tools, although sometimes work is needed. Sharepoint can be extensive.

The above-mentioned remarks relate mostly to Sharepoint 2007.

Not many using Sharepoint to power to the corporate intranet. More on department and workgroup level.

Now over to Sharepoint 2010. Release date is May 12. (A guy in the room won the Canada cap for getting that right.)

Toby says: don't migrate right away. Wait for the first service pack to be released.

Parts of Sharepoint 2010:

  • sites
  • composites (mashups)
  • insights
  • search
  • content
  • communities

Biggest improvements: the publishing platform (wiki - which is much better than in 2007, Toby says). Web content management, taxonomy and meta data, social media (FAST), digital assess management and records management too. When upgrading things to 2010 things should still work coming from 2007. Sharepoint online will also be improved. Features of 2010 will be release for SP online at the end of 2010.

Toby goes into these items one by one. Interesting: create flows in Visio and import them to Sharepoint. Microsoft guy in room says: It's not that sexy yet in vs 1.0.

Governance still needs to be done; it's not Sharepoint's responsibility anyway.

Pricing for Sharepoint 2010 is not clear yet.

You need a heavy infrastructure and computer to run Sharepoint.


  • stick with 2007 until mid 2011. But then move over if you use MS stuff.

Links to his slides will be on

Intranet 2.0: learning from others & how to implement #intra10

2nd key note at Intranet 2010 by Toby Ward.

Here are my notes of this talk.

50% of the intranets now have social media. 50% of the companies have blogs. 7% have no plans to implement blogs.

Gives examples of companies using blogs in the organization. Also mentions Oce's MoneyMaker platform. He also mentions people finding it hard to keep up and find the blogs they need to read. One company has a way to feed interesting posts to people based search terms/profile.

Wiki deployment, 49%. 10% have no plans to deploy. This is here to stay. Shows BT's wiki. (My note: BT is great in this area!)

39% of employees under the age of 25 would consider leaving their job if their company doesn't offer networking tools. (Note: Jeremiah Owyang says: When you want to work somewhere, take a look at their intranet first and you'll know what the company looks like and how they work.)

Gives an example of a company with a routing service helping people find each other in the company.

Tells about launch of Asks us to come and join.

Not all organizations are created equal. What works at IBM doesn't have to work for you.

Overall satisfaction with social media in the organization is 35%. Because of low take-up by employees, lack of business case, exec support, policy concerns, etc. Show change management is essential.

Relates this to IT projects in general (success, failure). So don't be surprised about succeeding and failing intranet projects. Why do they fail? Mostly because there is no plan. Intranet is a process, not an event. Technology comes in last and is least important. Don't limit yourself to e.g. Sharepoint.

Some recommendations:

- you need exec leadership. It doesn't have to be much (one post a month)

- plan, benchmark, engage, governance (who does what?), technology (don't be sold a solution)

- refresh (keep the content fresh, find out what is working well)

- measure (based on kpi's, prove your existence)

The challenge for web editors and communication staff in a task oriented intranet #intra10

Key note number 1 at Intranet 2010: Gerry McGovern.

Here are my notes of Gerry's talk!

Describes the trends in publishing: from controlled publishing to uncontrolled editing.

If you have a 5000 page intranet you should be in an AA meeting for intraweb developers.

The intranet will no longer be controlled by Communications, unless they change. People don't like to be communicated at!

A successful intranet is an intranet that helps people do the things they came there to do. The number 1 purpose of the intranet is efficiency and productivity. The intranet is a survivor's guide to a shitty week.

Don't create an idealization of your intranet users (persona's...).

News is important, but it's only a component to a good intranet. Step away from the rivalries between the disciplines (IT, Communications, etc).

Constant analysis of the use of the intranet is important. This leads to an intranet that actually works. Look at click-behavior, navigation behavior, come-and-leave behavior. The approach to intranet is master-apprentice. Learn from your users!

Gives an example of the LCAweb, Microsoft's legal intranet site. People hated it. They decided to take a different approach: Let's start managing tasks. Compared old and new navigation. They started asking other departments what they thought of the content. From Legal to Marketing. Legal strongly opposed to this approach at first. But gave it. Cleaned up the page and the content, simpler navigation, etc. They now manage on tasks, not on content and navigation.

The only navigation that really works is task-focused. He shows some of the other approaches to top level navigation (at Tetrapak). Social media relates well to this: finding people. Gerry says they have at least 125.000 euro savings based on this new approach.

We have to make visible the time the users are spending on the intranet for get things done (tasks).

ROI of Enterprise Microblogging

As you know Océ is experimenting with enterprise microblogging. And things are going very well. The number of users is still growing and the number of posts is too.

There's lots of debate about the ROI of social media. Recently I was asked if we try to calculate the ROI of our microblogging initiative for instance. This is what I replied:

We didn't do ROI calculations yet and don't know if we want to. Anyway users like Yammer for many reasons:

  • sharing interesting stuff publicly,
  • others like to be informed in this way (social search),
  • use Yammer as pulse of the company,
  • asking questions and getting answers from colleagues all over the world is great (people solve issues much quicker this way. It saved a colleague two weeks of her time!),
  • less email more yams,
  • implicit expertfinder,
  • etc.

Hope this helps.

What Matters Now

Sitting in the train I had time to read 'What Matters Now'.


I loved it. It's a very inspiring read. A great way to tap into the minds of great people. And all that for free! All contributors were asked to write a one-pager about a word. E.g. Power, Harmony, Compassion.

Here's some of the parts I enjoyed most:

  • Vision is the lifeblood of any organization. It is what keeps it moving forward. It provides meaning to the day-to-day challenges and setbacks that make up the rumble and tumble of real life. -- Michael Hyatt (This relates nicely to my post about Vision vs Scale.)
  • The One Percenters are often hidden in the crevices of niches, yet they are the roots of word of mouth. This year, your job is to find them and attract them. -- Jackie Huba & Ben McConnell
  • Peer production, open source, crowdsourcing, DIY and UGC - all these digital phenomena are starting to play out in the world of atoms, too. The Web was just the proof of concept. Now the revolution gets real. -- Chris Anderson
  • Don't worry too much about getting things done. Make things happen. -- Gina Trapani
  • Wouldn't it make more sense for both men and women to appreciate each other's strengths so we all work on what comes naturally? -- Marti Barletta
  • Educate a girl, and you educate her children and gernations to follow. -- John Wood
  • The road to sustainability goes through a clear-eyed look at unsustainability. -- Alan Webber
  • After a decade of truly spectacular underachievement, what we need now is less management and more freedom - fewer individual automatons and more autonomous individuals. -- Daniel Pink
  • Stop waiting around for bosses and companies to get bette and complaining about how you are treated. Build skills - and use them - that will permit you to create the environment in which you want to live. -- Jeffrey Pfeffer
  • When focusing on harmony, success becomes defined by different terms. Contribution. Dedication. Cooperation. -- Jack Covert
  • Be compassionate to everyone no matter the level of connection. -- Mitch Joel
  • Neoteny is the retention of childlike attributes in adulthood. ... It's time we listen to children and allow neoteny to guide us beyond the rigid frameworks and dogma created by adults. -- Joichi Ito
  • Robyn Waters, Cheerleader of Possibilities. :-)
  • Good dumb ideas create polarization. ... The fiercer the polarization, the smarter your dumb idea. Of course, dumb can be just dumb. You just have to be smart to tell the difference. -- Dave Balter
  • Never forget, a small group of people can change the world. No one else ever has. -- Micah Sifry
  • I believe the thank you economy will become the norm in 2010 and beyond, and brands that fail to adjust will be left out in the cold. -- Gary Vaynerchuk
  • When information is evaluated without context - regardless of highly sophiticated analytics, an infinite amount of compute, energy or time, little if any relevance can be established with certainty. When information is first placed into context with prior observations, relevance can be determined with basic algorithms and insignificant amounts of compute power. -- Jeff Jonas
  • You're probably trying to change things at home or at work. Stop agonizing about what's not working. Instead, ask yourself, "What's working well, right now, and how can I do more of it?" -- Chip and Dan Heath
  • You grow (and thrive!) by doing what excites you and what scares you everyday, not by trying to find your passion. -- Derek Sivers
  • The Mesh is a movement that is taking place all around us and will grow, reform and spread to engage many more of us. It's reshaping how we go to the market, who we partner with and how we find new customers. The opportunity is to embrace the Mesh and hopefully to discover how your current or new business can inspire customers in a world where access trumps ownership. -- Lisa Gansky
  • How do you know when you've had "enough?" Not everything, all the time, completely, forever. Just enough. Enough to start, finish, or simply maintain. -- Merlin Mann
  • Mistakes happen. How you apologize matters. Don't bullshit people - just say "I'm sorry." And mean it. -- Jason Fried
  • More people will tell you can't than you can. Don't listen. Anything's possible. -- Aimee Johnson

Trends in the Blogosphere

Well well, I finally had time to finish this post. It's been a while ago since the 'State of the Blogosphere 2009' (SofB) has been published. I'd like to share the things I learned from this great yearly report.

  1. I'll start with something I missed in the report: the number of blogs related to the number of active blog (bloggers posting at least once a week). It is mentioned that the levels of active bloggers has remained similar to 2008.
  2. This report underlines that the Blogosphere is still strong. Although there has been some discussion if blogging is dead or old-skool, the SofB says the blogging world is changing, but very alive and kicking. The report revolves around 4 types of bloggers: hobbyists, part-timers, self-employeds and Pros. The Hobbyists are the largest group, but the Pros is more influential every year. Another trend is the blog is taken ever more seriously by mainstream media.
  3. Interestingly the large part of the bloggers is highly educated and affluent. And two-thirds are male.
  4. The bloggers they interviewed have an average of 3-4 blogs.
  5. The SofB is published in 5 days. Concluding from the number of retweets, the last day is hardly read. Bloggers love short stories...
  6. The bloggers interviewed do not believe traditional media will die soon. 31% believe that newspapers will not be able to survive in the next 10 years.
  7. When asked which media bloggers take in, watching TV is done most (about 8.5 hours). Then reading blogs (about 8 hours). Commenting on blogs is done for about 3 hours a week. Reading newspapers takes about 3 hours.
  8. Updating blogs from mobile devices is still hardly done (20%). But it growing quickly compared to last year.
  9. "Self-expression and sharing expertise continue to be the primary motivations for bloggers, and 70% of all respondents say that personal satisfaction is a way they measure the success of their blog. Among Pros, however, the leading metric of success is the number of unique visitors." Bloggers have experienced positive career impacts.
  10. Most bloggers that have been interviewed post about the same amount of posts as when they started. The reason some blog less is work and family commitments.
  11. Most spend about 1-3 hours a week on blogging.
  12. A question I don't understand, but found interesting is: Do you support partial content or full content for your RSS feeds? 75% does full. Is the reason not to to get reader to click-through to your blog?
  13. Do blogs generate revenue? Yes. Most of the blog-related revenue is realized in the form of speaking fees and payments for contributing to print media or participating in broadcasts. So, blogging provides a platform for revenue.
  14. Brands are heavily blogged about.
  15. Lots of bloggers also use Twitter. They use it much more than the general population. Reasons to use Twitter: to promote their blogs, bring interesting links to light and to understand what people are buzzing about. Interestingly 25% of the interviewed blogger don't use Twitter. Why? They don't feel the need to broadcast their life and they don't get the point of tweeting, among others.
  16. Final quote from the report: "... blogging is the next step in a process of advancing communication from radio to TV to internet messaging. The breadth and depth of the blogosphere allows sophicated information - and special expertise - enhanced range. Comments and follow-up posts allow for original ideas to refined and perfected even as they are spreading around the world. This gives blogs a power that TV and radio simply don't have. A blogger can call for a protest and, within minutes, hundreds of people can RSVP. (...) The next generation of blogs will be more action oriented, not just commenting on real-time events, but driving" them.
  17. Interesting quote by Penelope Trunk: "Use your blog to figure our who you are and what you are good at and who the best people are for you to connect with."
  18. Interesting quote by Seth Godin: "I don't try to make money from blogging, the same way that I won't say the question 'How do you make money form the telephone' is a silly one for most people."
  19. Interesting quote by Duncan Riley: "The sad truth is the more content you produce the more page views you get."

Leading Like a Shepherd

A nice quote taken from Andrew McAfee's article "Shattering the Myths About Enterprise 2.0" (HBR Nov. 2009):

A leader ... is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.