From Face to Face to Facebook: Open Source Collaboration to Access the Best Experts

What if we copied the open source collaborative platform concept being used by research and development companies, like P & G, to access expertise for innovation and applied it to our recruitment processes? We have to think about recruitment in a new way, in today's digital world, if we are serious about accessing the right…

What if we copied the open source collaborative platform concept being used by research and development companies, like P & G, to access expertise for innovation and applied it to our recruitment processes? We have to think about recruitment in a new way, in today's digital world, if we are serious about accessing the right expertise to move our businesses forward. And this is particularly critical for the 99% of our businesses who employ less than 500 people. Resources and dollars are at a premium so how do we access the expertise we need, that expertise that does not need to be inhouse and on site?

Let's look at a typical business scenario – the annual strategic planning process.

Company B's senior leadership team holds their offsite 5 year strategic planning session. They come prepared with data and results related to the past 12 months' performance of the company and various divisions or units of the company. They use an external facilitator to help them review, revise and retool their strategy using the classic Porter model of competitive analysis along with SWOT, CSF and current versus future state tools and techniques. At the end of the process, they have their revised plans and action items, most likely a variation on what they have done before. And the plan is documented.

What has happened here is that Company B's senior leadership team has used traditional, tried and true, methods for developing a strategic plan. And they have used their internal resources – themselves – making the assumption that this traditional process is the best one for them.

Why not open up the process? Why not recruit or access expertise from non traditional sources – expertise in terms of process, people, tools, techniques, methods?

Some simple suggestions for Company B's senior leadership to improve their strategic planning process, but more importantly, to significantly increase the knowledge available to help them compete more effectively and gain revenue growth.

  • Take advantage of the networks utilized by your employees – Facebook and LinkedIN. Why not open your process to all your employees affording them an opportunity to provide input – ideas and solutions – to address issues, solve problems, generate solutions, and optimize opportunities? Your employees have a basic communication network, one or more of them that use daily to share their thoughts, opinions, preferences and activities with a host of friends, colleges and business associates. Company B would be wise to expend some of its best and brightest on developing an open source platform, whereby; employees could encourage their network to provide input and feedback on the strategic process. This could be similar to an online version of an employee survey, a customer survey, a customer focus group – created within the company walls but receiving input from their networks.
  • Company B could load this survey tool on to their own website – with the appropriate information required to excite expertise in their user user base to want to contribute and provide input to help them build a better, more relevant, strategy.

Of course, one needs to be careful what they wish for. In this scenario, Company B may be overwhelmed and overloaded with the quantity of feedback, and some of it may not be what they consider quality feedback. Another challenge is that Company B senior leadership has to be comfortable sharing previously considered proprietary information within an open environment. Competitors could easily view this information, but hey, they may even participate in providing input.

So how does Company B handle these? By changing their mindset and welcoming all input. If they want quality relevant feedback and input, they need to share quality information to attract the expertise they require.

“… it's no surprise that smart people remain as valuable as ever … the notice that you have to motivate, develop and retain all of your best people internally is old …. Assume that many of the best people are to be found outside your corporate walls. ” Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams, Macrowikinomics .

Consider going outside your comfort zone and take a chance with open source collaboration. These types of platforms are just an extension of the social media platforms your employees are already using to a great extent. They have created large networks of contacts, expertise available to them at their fingertips. Your organization should do the same and access the best expertise possible to find business solutions to help your organization grow.