The first time I heard someone talk about the concept of collisions was an interview with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. He was talking about how at Zappos they intentionally create opportunities for people to randomly run into each other at the office. His belief is that these collisions lead to shared ideas and innovation. In fact, their office was designed to prioritize collisions over convenience. While there are exits on all sides of the building, all but the front door are locked, forcing people to share a common entrance and “collide”.
You also see brands talk about strategic collisions of ideas as a marketing strategy. At IEG 2014, Emmanuel Seuge, Coca-Cola’s vice president of global alliances delivered a presentation entitled “Love and Collision” where he talked about using collisions of ideas to spur innovation and growth. His presentation centered on a multi-dimensional approach to connecting with consumers – colliding with them through different entry points.
There are so many examples of the value of collisions in the physical world. Sitting next to someone at a conference who becomes your next client or partner. Catching someone in the break room and getting a new perspective into a project you are taking on. As Zappos’ Hsieh says, “create your own luck by running into as many people as you can.”
But how can companies create this serendipity online for their employees? Here are three ways:
Create a place for online collisions of ideas to happen.
Just like Zappos changed their office space to create an environment for collisions, create an online space at your company where people can not only share information, ask questions, and get input, but also browse the information that others are sharing to get inspiration. There isn’t an exact science to ideation and innovation; sometimes it is stumbling upon a spark that leads to a bigger idea.
Foster a culture of sharing knowledge online.
It’s important that people feel empowered to communicate and share. We know that individuals react to different kinds of content and different opportunities to share. So encourage all types of information from text, to images, to video. Make sure that there are incentives for sharing and acknowledgement for people who contribute. When people see that their knowledge is valued across the organization, they’ll be more likely to continue sharing their ideas.
Make it easy.
It’s no surprise that solutions that are intuitive and straightforward have higher adoption and usage rates. Make sure your online knowledge sharing space is easy for employees to access in the flow of work. For example, you can make it simple for them to access the platform with a single sign-on system, or integrate it with tools your teams are already using, like Slack and Google Chrome. The easier it is for people to use the platform, the more readily they’ll start using it and organically sharing ideas.
These are just a few of the ways you can help your employees, partners, and clients collide online to share ideas and grow your business. Keep looking for new ways to promote collisions of ideas– your colleagues and customers may surprise you with the strategies they think up.