One of reasons we believe the creative economy/society is different from the industrial and agricultural economies is that it relies on a resource (creativity), that every single human being has. The question is whether our institutions and their leaders can provide mechanisms and devices that support the individual in exercising their creativity productively.
Richard often speaks of Toyota’s long-standing practice of listening to workers on the shop floor in generating new ideas and solving problems. The results of this corporate culture (which extends and exists beyond national borders) are obvious.
WSJ writer Phred Dvorak offers a piece on Best Buy and its engagement of its employees (at all levels) in a predictive stock market game whose results are checked against management forecasts. In the online market, called TagTrade, employees can buy stock in answers to questions posed by managers. The price of the stock then reflects the thinking and creativity of Best Buy’s employees. According to the article, the market’s judgment has often performed better than management’s. Here is a snippet.
TagTrade is open to all of Best Buy’s 115,000 U.S. employees. The roughly 2,100 of them who choose to participate get $1 million in fake money to trade for a nine-month period. The top trader in the period wins a $200 gift certificate.
Jeff Severts, a 38-year-old executive who is currently chief of the company’s Geek Squad personal-computer maintenance services, spearheaded development of the market. Mr. Severts says TagTrade helps flag potential problems early.
In January, he asked both his management team and the market to predict sales of a new service package the company was offering for laptop computers. A week before the company began selling the product, the market’s guess was 33% lower than the team’s official sales forecast. It subsequently sank further.
When initial sales figures confirmed the market’s prediction, Mr. Severts ended the offer and began redesigning the service package. He listed a TagTrade stock to gauge the revised package’s chances of starting on time, in mid-September. The stock rose, and Mr. Severts says he took “great comfort from that.” On Sunday, Best Buy started offering the new package.
Best Buy isn’t the only company using prediction markets as a way to tap the knowledge of front-line employees. Web-search giantInc. uses them to solicit forecasts on everything from how many users its Gmail service will attract to whether products will launch on time. Other companies that have experimented with them include Co., Corp. and Corp.
Does your company or organization offer avenues for all to provide input? What about your city or region? Are these systems creative, simple to use, and engaging? We do live in an era of cheap communications. Do they ‘invite’ people in? Companies and cities that do this will reap the benefits, while those who don’t will be battling from a position of weakness.