This website covers knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

IDEO's collaboration environment

A friend suggested that I look for a description of IDEO's knowledge management work, and I found this great article by Doug Solomon, IDEO's Chief Technology Officer. The Tube: IDEO Builds a Collaboration System That Inspires through Passion posted on Management Innovation eXchange. The summary of the article gives you a good hint as to the contents.

The Tube has had a very positive impact on the way we work at IDEO. Teams are working using the platform in new ways. People with special interests, talents and passions are easier to identify and invite to collaborate on projects. Passion is the key. Our model is based not on 'compliance', which we have seen in many other companies, but on an opt-in model. Connections among people are made based on active collaboration but also by searching for people and ideas and by serendipity. We fully expect to see many other unexpected and wonderful benefits from our approach in the future as the platform and users develop and grow through our collective learning.

I have followed the work at IDEO for quite a while, and even had them speak in my knowledge management class at Northwestern on the topic of innovation, so it is interesting to see this description of the role of technology, organization design and systems design in knowledge sharing and collaboration. I particularly like the way they articulate what knowledge sharing means and how it can work in the knowledge sharing mindmap in the article here (click through for the full image in the original article).

The article wraps up with the key design principles that guided their creation of The Tube:

  1. Build pointers to people
  2. Build rewarding systems
  3. Demand intuitive interfaces
  4. Take the road more traveled
  5. Iterate early & often

I have seen variations on these themes repeated elsewhere and used them myself. I wonder if each organization might have a slightly different set of these, depending on their needs and culture and backgrounds. But this set is a reasonable grouping of principles to start from. Always check if they make sense for you.

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