I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at the opening session of the Organization Science Winter Conference (OSWC) in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The topic of this year's conference was "Formal Organizations meet Social Networking" and I was approached to present about the BlueIQ program at IBM. Since this conference is an academic conference I had to tailor my talk a little bit and included some data from our adoption efforts as well as lots of stories about our adoption progress.
The attendees of this conference are exclusively Academics and were some of the most engaged audience I have ever encountered. So far I must have talked to half of the attendees directly with a few more expressing an interest for a conversation later today or tomorrow. For a speaker that is really the best feedback that one can with for.
One other observation during the conference was that most of the attendees were quite well equipped with modern computing equipment (MacBook Airs, iPads, iPhones, Laptops, etc) but only two attendees were using Social Media (Twitter) during the conference as far as I could tell. I did notice a lot of attendees taking rather detailed notes though during subsequent presentations.
So back to my presentation. Tony O'Driscoll kicked off the opening session and shortly after I was on the stage to present. What was supposed to be a 30 minute presentation followed by 30 minutes Q&A and 45 minutes of open discussion turned into about a 2 hour session! After a somewhat slow start the audience started asking a lot of questions. Terri Griffith was kind enough to moderate the Q&A session - and had a few challenging questions herself.
The interesting thing for me was that I actually heard a few questions that I have never heard before from Customers or other IBMers. It seems that this Academic group was thinking about this topic a little bit differently - and this really challenged me in a good way.
One of my favorite questions of the night was in response to me telling a story on how we use Ideation Blogs in IBM to bubble up ideas through public voting. Everybody is free to submit an idea and everybody can vote on the ideas that they think are good. We then pick the top few ideas and see what we can do to implement the suggestions.
Now the question was if I was confident that the BEST ideas would always win. The suggestion was that sometimes the most popular ideas would win rather than the best idea. I have to admit that I hadn't thought about this since so far we have been relying on the "Wisdom of the Crowds" - but it can't be denied that occasionally the crowd may miss a gem.
So I was wondering if any of the readers of this blog had any suggestions or observations either way? Do the BEST ideas win or the most popular ones? Are they identical?