IBM’s Internal Crowdfunding Rewards Employee Innovation

All employees have ideas, credible or otherwise, on how to improve their job environment. Very few, however, get an allowance and an opportunity to act on their thoughts. At most highly structured and hierarchical enterprises, the prospect of such an initiative seems far off. At IBM, however, several departments have already tested a program that puts employees in the middle of the ideation process. The internal crowdfunding initiative was first jointly implemented during summer 2012 at a New York state IBM research office and an office in Cambridge, says Michael Muller, researcher and master innovator at IBM who helped to manage the program. Since then, it’s been tried at two more offices, with potential for replication elsewhere in the firm. Those who are familiar with traditional crowdfunding models won’t have a hard time understanding the program. The process is, in practice, very similar to what happens on a platform like Kickstarter. Participants scan through the proposed projects over the period of one month, and decide which ones to back with cash. The ideas with the most merit reach their funding goals, and their owners are expected to follow through with implementation (a few projects that were funded did not come […]

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