Employee Ideation on Internal Social Media: Addressing Uncertainty through Dialogue Strategies
This article examines employee ideation on internal social media, and how employees through dialogue strategies address uncertainty, a condition assumed inherent in ideation. The study explored online employee communication and interaction during 60 ideation sessions, including 2,420 suggested ideas, 6,558 comments, and 3,017 likes since the implementation in 2011 in a large, knowledge-intensive Danish organization. One ideation session counting 70 ideas, including 263 comments and 340 likes, was selected for an in-depth analysis of employee communication when generating ideas on internal social media. The study found that employees ideate mostly through three dialogue strategies: anticipating objections, asking directional questions, and opening up to other viewpoints. With these strategies, employees addressed uncertainty in mitigating interactions imagined to be face-threatening. Moreover, the present research suggests that uncertainty and dialogue strategies are considered resources for online employee ideation. Uncertainty may offer the opportunity for open, reflective, and stimulating dialogues, and the dialogue strategies may enhance online ideation. It is not until after an idea starts to develop through the multi-vocal dialogues that opportunities for innovation may emerge. In that sense, online employee communication about ideas is considered of strategic significance to one of the organization’s goals of being an innovation leader.