Monday, December 14, 2009

Capturing Employee Ideas: The CDC IdeaLab

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is a large government agency with 14,000 full-time, part-time, and contract employees. While headquartered in Atlanta, the CDC has a large geographically dispersed workforce working in 19 facilities across the United States and 54 countries around the globe. Since many the CDC's employees are isolated geographically, the processes of collaboration, communication, and sharing information efficiently and effectively are challenging.

The solution to their challenge is what they call the IdeaLab. IdeaLab is a web-based application which CDC employees are encouraged to use to post their ideas, comment on others’ posts, and vote on the quality of the posts and comments. Submissions are attributed and authenticated in real time. Ideas are categorized according to CDC organizational goals, and related ideas are affinity-grouped using tag clouds.

A weekly “Bright Idea” highlights a submission that has broad agency interest across multiple national centers and offices. All communications are stored in a searchable archive that anyone at CDC can review at anytime. IdeaLab enables CDC employees to "use their insights and experiences to help colleagues build and implement high-impact solutions to important public health challenges."

The CDC hopes that the IdeaLab will:
  • Increase connectivity of CDC employees who support multidisciplinary, evidence-based solutions
  • Promote scientific crowd-sourcing and peer-2-peer networking to build ideas, enable virtual piloting and refinement of ideas, and foster rapid implementation and adoption of the best ideas
  • Foster retention and sharing of institutional memory
  • Improve interactions among networks of knowledge
  • Improve orientation for and assimilation by new employees
  • Accelerate health impacts by increasing employee-driven innovation and improving organizational efficiency
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