Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bobo Ideas

Constant innovation is a necessity these days. You cannot afford to rest on your laurels, since the rapid spread of information in today's social media turbo-charged web means others will quickly adopt and start using your ideas. So the only strategic option is to stay one step ahead.

Amongst other things Zipipop has a reputation for innovation, which has been achieved through a willingness to think out-of-the-box and take risks. But a lot of this comes from a simple creative tool that we started using right at the beginning of our existence: it is called the "bobo idea".

A bobo idea initiates an micro-brainstorming session at any time of day and in any context. You can think of a bobo as being the seed of a potentially good idea.

How does it work?

When you have an idea that is not necessarily a good one, but you still want to share it to see where it could lead. You say; "Hey, I've got a bobo idea. What if we…"

This immediately tells the listeners to adopt a nonjudgmental, open-minded attitude (like in brainstorming sessions); which means that there is no such thing as a bad bobo – just neutral or good ones.

This simple tool is incredibly liberating and we have notice that many of our clients and partners start using it too.

Why bobo?

My Zipipop co-founder, Helene Auramo, used the word bobo a lot for some unknown reason and we just somehow started using it for this purpose and it has simply stuck. I think it works because it has a naive, unformed feeling that fits very much with this way of thinking and sharing.

Adopting the use the bobo tool has knock on benefits to the whole organizational atmosphere, since it promotes core social media philosophies, such as: sharing, transparency, meritocracy, innovation and the willingness to take risks.


Gauthier said...

Not a bad idea even tho many organization probably have already such a bank of ideas in some task/project management system.

Have to remember that it´s not about dropping ideas but it´s about doing something about those suggestions and assigning them to someone. In fast growing businesses (small or relatively big organizations)time and resources are really limited at the moment to treat those "extra" thoughts. It´s very healthy to give the opportunity to people to share their opinion and ideas but once again the reality is always running back and you can hardly lose focus from your core activities bringing the revenue, the bobo place would drive business development ideas for new products/features most likely but is there someone to proceed with them ?

It would be probably a very good tool for creative agencies such as Zipipop but for sales organization it can be tricky to handle.

Richard said...

Thanks Gauthier. Some good points. Indeed, at one point we were becoming overly creative with the number of bobo ideas flying round, but we found a simple way to cut down on this – reduce the number of unfocused meetings. So now bobos are mostly used in specific project meetings, however, there is still the advantage of using them at the drop of a hat without first having to declare an official brainstorming session. And there are still those lunchtime and odd coffee breaks where they pop up now and then.

But regarding the process of processing the ideas it is interesting to note how unconquered the whole idea/task management space is. We have been experimenting with using the community voting system in UserVoice to process ideas. So far it is working well with specific product development ideas, however, we have not yet made it work comfortably for general organization bobo ideas. Do you have any process for that?

Gauthier said...


I´m not 100% sure I understand your question ;)

"however, we have not yet made it work comfortably for general organization bobo ideas. Do you have any process for that?"

Do you mean, how to proceed with ideas and suggestions to improve the company (Zipipop for example) posted by one of its employee (You for example) ?

Richard said...

Indeed. How to get good Bobo ideas approved and adopted by the organization. I think that most bobos should be left to fade away like the most of the ideas you have in the pub. But how to capture, collaboratively assess and implement the great ones.

UserVoice can be used for the collaborative voting, however, for the longer term process development stuff, when there is little urgency, there doesn't seem to be the staff will to go and interact with it. It sometimes feels like a hammer to crack a nut.

I guess it is time to try Google Moderator again now that I see it is possible to bring it inside the Zipipop Google Apps environment.