swarm intelligence innovative companies

Develop innovative corporate strategies through swarm intelligence

One of the most important questions asked by managers with whom we work: How do we get employees involved in digital change? How do we enable them to participate in the digital transformation of the company? And how do we increase their awareness for digital disruption? The answer: Swarm intelligence. In this article you will learn how it works.


The challenge: Involving employees in digital transformation

For many employees, digitization is not a source of excitement. Even worse, it’s full of fears. This is not least due to inglorious appearances such as that of Martin Zielke, CEO of Commerzbank. Watch the video: With a facial expression and the voice of a mourning speaker, he announced a digital innovation strategy: the reduction of almost 10,000 jobs. The visionary part of the message to focus the company on digital innovation was lost. So how do you get employees excited about digitization and business innovation?


Start with your digital mission, not your vision!

Management theory distinguishes between vision and mission.

  • The vision: Where do we want to go?
  • The mission: Why do we exist?

Start with the mission. Together with your employees, consider which role your company should play in the lives of your customers in the future. Initiate a lively discussion process within your company. Involve customers and suppliers. Take advantage of the swarm intelligence of the individuals who know your company from all sides. Benefit from the advantages of a swarm organisation.


Phase 1: Communicate digital trends and industry trends within the company

Show what moves you, the management and the industry. Invite experts to publish articles on the future of your industry on your intranet. This first phase of raising awareness is important in order to give employees a clear description of the challenges of the coming years. Invite employees to express their thoughts and ask questions.


Phase 2: Activate swarm intelligence in the company

Put the following three questions up for public discussion:

  • Who are our future target groups?
  • What are the needs of tomorrow’s customers?
  • What is our company’s role in this?

Encourage employees to exchange ideas within their teams, in cross-functional working groups and on their own online platform such as the Innolytics® software. The questions will help you activate what experts call creative swarm intelligence.


Phase 3: Summarize the results

In projects such as the one we carried out with the German company Gerolsteiner, more than two hundred proposals were submitted, which were commented more than 1,000 times. Complex discussions like these have to be categorized and classified by keywords and topics. You need an answer to the most important question: What was the result? Here, the Innolytics® software supports you with a unique evaluation tool that works like a scientific text analysis. Just easier. All comments are clustered thematically and provided with summary statements.


Phase 4: Evaluate the central statements of your mission

After you have summarized the results, have the central statements evaluated by employees. Use criteria such as “conclusiveness”, “comprehensibility” and “future orientation”.

Have the statements evaluated equally by employees and external parties (experts, customers, etc.). At the end of the day, the statements that were best evaluated by employees and customers become part of your mission.


Swarm intelligence vs. classic strategy development: The advantage

Of course, you can also develop digital strategies differently. With a consulting firm, you analyze trends and markets of the future. You will receive a 150-page final presentation and consolidate it into a vision. At the end there are general phrases such as “Digital Leadership in Finance”.

Commerzbank did the same. You saw the result in the video. With corresponding collateral damage: Employees don’t feel they have been taken along; in the worst case, resistance grows within the company. Using the swarm intelligence of employees ensures enthusiasm and acceptance.

When you give your employees the feeling that they are an essential part of the digital strategy, you reduce fears, motivate and inspire them.

Innolytics® supports you and your company methodically and technologically in using the swarm intelligence of employees and customers: From setting up a platform using our innovation management software to concrete planning and moderation of campaigns to evaluation.

Innolytics® analysis tools give you a quick and accurate overview of your employees’ involvement, the results of discussions, and the evaluation of each component of your digital mission. Innolytics® helps you to support the individual phases with the help of a clear process. Each step is based on experience from a wide variety of projects. Innolytics® supports you in anchoring digital transformation in the minds and hearts of your employees.



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