Connecting People for Innovation and Collaboration
Spark Collaboration helps companies, associations and other groups systematically connect people one-on-one for greater collaboration, innovation and knowledge sharing.
At companies, Spark creates active connections with the larger organization that help break silos, inspires innovation across countries and business units, and improves knowledge sharing across the company. Within associations, Spark connects members with each other for one-on-one meetings that can help promote association goals by building community, creating a forum for sharing ideas and helping members strengthen their ties to the association. Across alumni groups, one-on-one meetings with fellow alumni create powerful personal and professional networking opportunities for your alumni while driving greater engagement with their alma mater.
How Spark Works
Join. Connect. Meet Up.
Behind the scenes, the Spark Collaboration platform matches people face-to-face for real time social interactions. By meeting over coffee, lunch or video, people can create real social connections that can help them be more innovative, connected, and ultimately more productive. Spark setup is quick and easy, and allows your organization to create campaigns that reflect your unique goals.
Just a few simple steps will get you started:
- Decide who should meet. Get one department connected with another department, client, or vendor.
- Set the Specifics. Decide start and end dates, establish frequency of meet ups, and set custom rules with your own criteria. Then monitor metrics and participation.
- Get Engaged. Log in to see current and upcoming meetups and update profiles. Watch as morale, attendance and inspiration bloom in the workplace.
Randomised Coffee Trials
Spark Collaboration was built on the success of Randomised Coffee Trials (RCTs), a manual process co-designed in 2012 by Jon Kingsbury and Michael Soto at Nesta, the UK innovation foundation. RCTs pair staff with a new coworker from across the company on a fixed interval (weekly, monthly etc) to get to know each other over coffee and learn about what projects they are working on. Nesta’s experience with RCTs was documented in the ‘Institutionalising Serendipity’ blog series and received widespread attention, being adopted by a range of organizations, including UK government bodies, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the International Federation for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
How Companies Are Using Spark
Driving Employee Engagement
Creating active connections with the larger team and organization creates higher levels of employee engagement–leading to a better bottom line.
Integrating Across Multiple Offices
Pairing employees across multiple offices for video chats allows innovation and ideas to prosper among people in different roles, regions and offices.
Creating Cross-Department Networks
Encouraging employees to make new connections across departments and silos can create a culture of open communication and collaboration.
Pairing Mentors with Mentees
Connecting mentors with potential mentorees can spark conversations that promote career development across levels of the company.
Enhancing Talent Development
Collaboration impacts multiple talent development processes, including onboarding, career development and rentention of top talent.
Promoting discussion among affinity groups and Employee Resource Groups helps support retention, professional development and the support of diversity initiatives across the company.
Working in partnership with Spark Collaboration, Ashridge introduced the concept of Randomised Coffee Trials (RCTs) as a way of connecting people in 1-on-1 situations to foster greater collaboration, innovation and knowledge sharing across organizational boundaries.
Since implementing RCT company wide, Ashridge has also included it in the staff induction program to showcase its value. There are not many organizations that can boast that within a month of joining, individuals can be having a relaxed cup of coffee with the President of the company, a member of staff that has 18 years’ experience, the Head Chef or a member of one of the administrative teams.
The IIT, Institute for Research in Technology, belongs to the School of Engineering (ICAI) of Comillas Pontifical University of Madrid (Comillas). Research at the IIT covers
energy modeling and regulation, railways, intelligent systems, computational mechanics and advanced materials. Given the variety of topics covered and the fact that IIT is spread in various buildings, internal communication and knowledge sharing had not been as fluid as many would wish.
IIT proposed Spark as an opportunity to:
– learn from each other’s work and perspectives [knowledge transfer]
– exchange ideas and generate new ones [creativity ignition]
– develop better relationships among colleagues [work environment]
The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, 430,000 staff and 17 million volunteers working in 189 countries. The sheer size and scope of this Movement is one of the organization’s greatest strengths, presenting significant potential for collaboration, learning and innovation. Spark Collaboration was implemented as a component of a broader Learning and Engagement Plan for Volunteering Development to create spaces where people could come together and talk, collaborate for solutions, and innovation. The initiative helped to build a sense of connectedness, unity and common purpose to the global organization. One of the more impressive outcomes has been to strengthen professional networks, benefiting both individuals and National Societies, widening the reservoir from which people can gather ideas, support and learning.
The BC Patient Safety & Quality Council helps the health care journey of every patient in British Columbia end in its optimal outcome.
Cognizant that relationships are so important in our rapidly changing world and we don’t always have people around us who speak the same language, The British Columbia Patient Safety & Quality Council (BCPSQC) set up multiple Spark Communities to strengthen networks.
FiveStars is the most widely used customer loyalty network for small and medium businesses in North America.
Spark is a high driver of engagement at FiveStars. Relationships are core to their mission & internal community.
** Pre-Spark Launch Engagement Survey **
Cross Departmental Connection: “I put an effort into building real and authentic relationships with other members of the community outside of my department” ~ 77% (Impact on Engagement: Low)
**3 Months Post-Spark Launch Engagement Survey**
Cross Departmental Connection: “I put an effort into building real and authentic relationships and feel connected to community members outside of my department” ~ 83% (Impact on Engagement: High)
The Penn Club of Chicago
The Penn Club of Chicago represents and serves the roughly 3,000 Penn Alumni in the Chicago metropolitan area, from recent graduates of the Class of 2015 to distinguished members of the Old Guard. The Penn Club of Chicago’s mission is to create a community, in Chicago, for all alumni, incorporating social, educational, and professional activities that encompass the Penn spirit and bring awareness of Penn to the greater Chicago area. This University of Pennsylvania regional alumni club, one of many worldwide, is using Spark Collaboration to bring graduates together for face-to-face meetings to network, and share ideas. Alumni have indicated they have enjoyed meeting a variety of alumni from different fields, and participating in Spark has made them more inclined to attend other events held by the alumni club. This is representative of the impact a networking initiative between graduates of the same university can have — more professional connections and greater school pride.