Wednesday, 11 June 2008

the geek squad

the geek squad was set up by Stephens, a guy who saw a problem (people don't know how to work computers) and solved it (an "emergency" service business). The business exploded (60 to 12,000 staff in three years) and was bought for a tidy sum by a big software and services company in the US. What's interesting here is the approach to staff and innovation - it's a complete down-up operation.
Stephens was looking to find a way to engage his staff - to communicate with them and to allow them to communicate with him sans barriers. So he put a lot of energy putting together a wiki website where everyone could become a part of the process in an efficient way. No one used it. Stephens was confused - all his staff are geeks and therefore supposed to love this technology, so where were they? One day he spoke to one of the directors: "I worry about those guys in Alaska - they're pretty isolated. How close are they to the brand message?". The reply was "Oh, those guys, they're great, I speak to them all the time!". How? It turns out they were all playing Battlefield 2 online. At the same time as dodging bullets they were catching up about work. Rather than banning the game (which would be most managers' reactions), he encouraged it and now there are up to 400 staff members from across the US playing the game at any one time. A much more innovative and intrinsic way of getting staff to communicate.
So what can we do here that would achieve the same thing? Ideas please.

by emily


Dan H said...

It seems to me our biggest divide is between the ground floor and the top floor. How about borrowing the idea of the Teletroscope (the 'tunnel' that links the south bank with Manhattan) and having a screen on both floors that lets us see what's going on and who's about.

We wouldn't be able to communicate (well, maybe) but it would make us all feel connected...

neil said...

I like the teletroscope idea in the agency - can't be a difficult thing to do. Dan let's talk to Simon about setting it up.