How Connected Employees Can Lead to Disruptive Change

Innovation fuels business benefits from digital natives and others in the connected generation

Editor’s note: This article is part of a three-part series.

A few weeks ago I wrote part one of a three-part series on improving your business by inviting your employees to engage organically on social networks. I stated, “To encourage social media networking in the workplace or not to encourage social media networking in the workplace—that is today’s question.” In that article, I focused on how to leverage employee social networking to engage with and invite in customers and clients. This article’s the focus is on finding and creating innovation in business, including cultivating opportunities for disruptive innovation.

 

 

The Value of Digital Natives

In the previous article I used Zappos as an example of a company that does a great job with employee social networking. Many employees are young digital natives (a term coined by Marc Mrensky to describe those born after the development of the Internet, around the mid 1980s) with a different mind when it comes to social media networking, literally. Digital natives are generally more able to connect into the collective hive mind that is social networks because their brains have been primed to be open to the power of the collective.

In a very recent article in Forbes, “Win Big by Unleashing Millennials’ Connective Intelligence,” author Saj-Nicole Joni discusses the value of the digital natives in the workplace with their ability to gather the knowledge they need to lead to opportunities for innovation. By tapping into the networked intelligence of their networks, they are often able to quickly find information, ideas and people to leverage additional ideas and create more opportunities. These digital natives can bring the opportunity for innovation into the workplace and with the help of others, including their digital immigrant co-workers, managers and sometimes staff, they can create opportunities to leverage what they bring to the table.

A great way for social networks—and in particular your digital natives or any of your connected employees—to facilitate innovation is through disruptive innovation. This is innovation comprised of incremental changes usually producing faster, cheaper and poorer quality change (yep, poorer quality) that disrupts an industry and leads to fundamental market change, which leads to something new. This does not mean you should be focused on providing cheaper, faster and poorer quality, it means you may need to be aware of these options and select what you need from them to keep your competitive edge as others around you also innovate through disruption.