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Three Ways To Spur Innovation By Fostering Online “Collisions"

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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 prioritized 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 exit and “collide”.

You also see brands talk about strategic collisions 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 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 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. 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 and make sure that there are incentives and acknowledgement for people who contribute.

Make it easy. It’s no surprise that solutions that are intuitive and easy to use have higher adoption and usage rates. This translates an online environment where content and ideas are easy to contribute, find, share, and amplify. Don’t overcomplicate!

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.

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