October 1, 2007 at 2:52 pm | Posted in collaboration | Leave a comment

While watching the U.S. Open in September I was bombarded with IBM’s commercials on innovation.  I’m glad IBM is sponsoring the U.S. Open – they do a great job with the web site and someone has to chip in to pay Roger Federer’s $2.4 million winner’s check.

But IBM’s commercials on innovation leave me with a bad feeling.  Their intent is to emphasize that actually implementing innovative ideas, not just holding new-agey ideation sessions, is what companies should be doing.  Which is true.  But in the process they make fun of the ideation process so much, associating it with lying in the dark in a conference room and other wacky antics, that it winds up disparaging the creative process.  Where do great ideas come from?  Unsolicited emails and “are there any questions?” prompts at the end of an executive presentation?  I doubt it.  The marketing folks guiding that campaign should look at IBM’s own InnovationJam as an example of how to create ideas.  The problem may have been selection – I’ve heard there are other commercials in the series (maybe not shown during the U.S. Open) that show the group discussion process in a better light.

So now I’m a TV ctiritc?  Not really, but innovation is one of the core business imperatives driving collaboration technology as I discussed in my recent telebriefing on “Preparing a Business Case for Collaboration” (available to clients only). 

I’m sure IBM would agree that a single-minded focus on executing innovative ideas without supporting effort to spur creation of innovative ideas won’t work either.  But by painting the ideation process as a feeding ground for weirdos it skips over the proper ideation that needs to take place.  This is surprising given that IBM’s product line includes collaborative tools such as IBM Lotus Notes, Domino, Connections, and Quickr.  Maybe they just don’t bring in as much as IBM’s services?


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