The notion of adding value to your workplace is one that is building traction among progressive companies. Making things better by being innovative and unafraid to try something new is a long way from a new idea, but the MBAs for whom the bottom line is the be-all and end-all are slowly being replaced by more progressive thinkers for whom the notion of everything being about people isn’t so foreign.
Adding value is also something that we web workers are familiar with, particularly if we’re involved in building applications that are trying to make things faster, easier and better. BusinessWeek is running a series of articles on the use of web-based mashups in business. companies you might otherwise think of as old school; Siemens, JDS Uniphase, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, for example, are taking a risk and jumping in, often to their significant benefit. GigaOm too, has an article on the same concept, although it’s a little more Web 2.0 focussed and more likely to excite us geeks.
Businesses that maintain the status quo and fail to avail themselves of opprtunities to add value by trying things like blogging, wikis, mashups and the like are shooting themselves in the foot. The opportunity cost of giving a 3-person team four weeks to experiment with some of this technology is negligible. If the experiment works, businesses can then invest real development time in the ideas. The outcome might be a real Purple Cow. If it doesn’t, four weeks for a small team is all you’ve lost. For a decent-sized business (for which “decent” is a widely-variable value), the cost at the end of the year is likely to be negligible.
Taking these opportunities, too, is likely to provide significant motivation to the staff involved. They perceive themselves as doing something real, exciting and with tangible outcome.
By no means should this sort of experimentation be limited to your tech staff, either. Try it on a new product marketing plan, or your retention strategy, or your new hires induction process. Take the best of the old, mix it up with a crazy idea or two, break some eggs and see what happens.
This is important stuff!