Defence & Intelligence

Open, Social Transformation

It’s some time ago since Dr. Henry Chesbrough coined the term Open Innovation to represent the process shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1 – Open Innovation

But Open Innovation has recently come alive, fuelled by Open Standards compliant Cloud and the explosion of Social Business.  Organisations now use these methods to help them transform, and in this blog post I use storytelling to show how this can be done, based on a project that we’ve recently completed for a major Defence Ministry.  The names are changed for obvious reasons . . .

It’s been some nine months now since Markus took up his position of CIO at the Defence Ministry.  With an impressive background in Information Technology combined with many years as a Navy reservist he was recruited from Industry to help transform the military to meet their vastly varied missions, often against an agile, asymmetric threat in a climate of budgetary constraint. 

Shortly before coming into post, the government instigated a “bureaucracy busting” challenge to all departments.  Markus was keen to build on this to help transform his organisation. He thought back to a recent Global Security Jam  as a way to do this whist improving employee engagement.  Markus approached IBM (provider of the social business platform for the Global Security Jam) explaining that he would like to run a two day Innovation Jam with about 100 employees across his organisation to gather, refine and prioritise transformation ideas.  

Markus and his team chose three popular discussion topics specifically Mobile Working, Information Capture & Electronic Workflow.  He worked with the IBM team to refine these into Innovation Jam topics, then selected three internal advocates to act as Jam moderators.  Over a period of a few weeks, the IBM team configured the Jam platform (IBM Connections), trained the moderators and worked with Markus’ team to register the Jam participants and familiarise them in the use of the collaboration technology.

The Innovation Jam started in anger one bright Wednesday morning with some 60 personnel from across Markus’ organisation taking part.  The morning and early afternoon was spent brainstorming new ideas within each of the topic areas.  The Jam participants were able to dip in and out of the virtual conversations to fit with their scheduled commitments.  IBM team helped the Defence Ministry moderators keep the ideas flowing, and later shaping and refining the ideas through an online question and answer process with the person who made the suggestion.  Markus personally engaged with the Jam and was excited that some radical, but practical ideas were emerging.

This continued overnight (Markus was pleasantly surprised that participation continued outside working hours) and just before lunchtime on the second day new idea generation was disabled so the team could focus on idea refinement.  Voting started early afternoon and towards the end of the Jam the moderator team encouraged the participants to focus on action planning the top few ideas in each category.

Jam ParticipationS

Figure 2 – Participation Analysis

Markus was delighted with the output of the Jam.  There were about three ideas in each category that were worthy of serious consideration / experimentation and he resolved to work with the moderators to progress.  A post Jam survey revealed that almost all participants felt that the Jam was valuable and worth repeating.  Comments ranged from “Thanks for arranging it, it was good fun” to “It was very good and used technology to help a mass audience communicate – something the Ministry is not particularly great at doing.”  Markus is sure he will repeat the Innovation Jam, but not until he’s given the participants concrete evidence that he’s implemented selected ideas from this Jam!

The Innovation Jam project used IBM Connections hosted on IBM Greenhouse.  Specifically, the Ideation Blog facility was used for idea capture, refinement, prioritisation and action planning.  The IBM team managed the project, structured the Innovation Jam, configured the IBM Connections platform and trained the client moderator team

The Defence Ministry personnel set the Innovation Jam questions, recruited the participants, selected the moderators and analysed / implemented the Jam recommendations.

Note that the techniques / technologies are equally applicable to any organisation wishing to transform – regardless of Industry

I’m very interested in your views on this topic.  Leave me a comment, drop me an e-mail / tweet – or even give me a call!


Director - Blockchain | National Security - CTO Team Europe

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