This summary is provided by the IPR Digital Media Research Center.

Organizations are increasingly adopting internal social media (ISM) platforms for communication and interaction among employees. One type of ISM activity is employee ideation, or the process of employees engaging in dialogue to come up with innovative ideas to prepare organizations for uncertain futures. This study employed a case study of one organization’s online employee communication and interaction during ideation sessions using an ISM platform. Practical implications regarding how employees use ISM to generate ideas about the future and how that communication benefits organizations are provided.

A case study of a global company’s ISM platform was conducted. The company is headquartered in Denmark and has approximately 7,000 employees across the globe. The ISM platform was used primarily for employee idea generation.

Sixty ideation sessions from January 2018 were analyzed. Textual analysis (a method that involves analyzing language present in text to understand how people communicate) was used to understand how employees use an ISM platform to generate ideas for their organizations regarding future scenarios or problems.

Key Findings
— When employees contributed ideas about an uncertain future, they used a self-censorship approach, carefully sharing their ideas and opinions knowing that others may criticize them.
— Seven dialogue strategies were apparent in employees’ communication using the ISM platform:
1.) Acknowledging dialogue strategy (acknowledging the existence of other ideas while suggesting new ones)
2.) Anticipating objections dialogue strategy (anticipating objections to the suggested idea)
3.) Direct appeal dialogue strategy (suggesting ideas while appealing directly to the other participants)
4.) Inquiring dialogue strategy (suggesting ideas as questions)
5.) Ambiguous dialogue strategy (applying humor, irony, or emoticons and being ambiguous while suggesting ideas)
6.) Opening up to other viewpoints dialogue strategy (suggesting that other participants object to or develop the suggested idea)
7.) Ventilating dialogue strategy (communicating about the ideation session or expressing frustration about the session rather than generating ideas)
— The three most common dialogue strategies were: anticipating objections, asking directional questions, and opening up to other viewpoints.
— Though employees carefully communicated their ideas about an uncertain future, they also sought to understand others’ perspectives, engaged in ongoing dialogues and succeeded in the online ideation process for their organization.

Implications for Practice
— Employee ideation using ISM platforms may be helpful for organizations seeking to generate ideas that will benefit the organization in the future.
— Employee ideation using ISM platforms may lead to all employees feel like their opinions and suggestions are valuable.
— When employees partake in ideation sessions using ISM platforms, their awareness that others may criticize their suggestions may result in them participating in respectful dialogue with those who have different perspectives or with individuals of diverse backgrounds.
— Using an uncertain future situation may give employers an opportunity for their employees to engage in open and reflective dialogues, and opportunities for organizational innovation may emerge.

Gode, H. E. (2019). Employee ideation on internal social media: Addressing uncertainty through dialogue strategies. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 13(5), 385-403.

Location of Article
The full article is available here.

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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