Tim Ingold, director of engineering development at Jabil—a global provider of electronics manufacturing services—recently spoke at PlanetPTC Live in Orlando, Florida, about the power of social networks.
Using social networking in product development can foster real collaboration and help identify experts and talent that would otherwise be hidden, according to Ingold. Social tools can open up bidirectional communication and spark productivity and innovation, but implementation must be thoughtful.
Here are Ingold’s three tips:
Don’t Ignore the Basics. Truly collaborative work is voluntary. In growing global companies it’s easy to lose touch with one another. Emails become cold and colorless, Ingold argues. Collaboration won’t happen unless employees trust each other and understand the perspectives of one another.
Begin by having employees create online profiles so they can put a personality to the person at the end of the phone or email. “It’s the little things that make people real,” says Ingold.
Done the right way, enterprise social networks can and should make a company feel “small” again.
Senior Leaders Have to Walk the Talk. When it comes to social networking, to be a long-term success, it’s a question of culture, argues Ingold. Leaders have to endorse and use the applications themselves.
Leaders who embrace social networking find that they are able to engage with employees more and keep a finger on the pulse of the organization. They can watch, listen and learn more efficiently, as well as encourage great ideas.
Defy Control and Isolation. Companies that try to control and isolate the use of social media are headed in the wrong direction. Giving a few select people the “job” of social networking at a company is pointless, says Ingold. Walling off social media is like trying to wall off the use of email.
It would seem ridiculous nowadays to tell employees that only one person or group can use email, and we should think of social media the same way. Social media should be embedded in every part of a business and used by everyone. “It’s about changing your company’s daily habits,” argues Ingold. “It has to be integrated into the natural work process.”
In making social media available to everyone and loosening control over it, you’ll be able to tap into new pools of talent. “Everyone can reach out of their cubes and participate,” concludes Ingold.