One is to "build pointers" to people, instead of trying to pull every scrap of information every worker might possess into a giant knowledge base, he said. That approach is good for collecting facts and figures, but not much else, he said. "A lot of the really good [knowledge], it's too contextual, too experiential, too tacit." Therefore, an IDEO employee's profile on The Tube focuses on delivering an abundance of information about the worker that is useful to the business, such as his or her workload over the coming weeks, contact information, short and long-form biographical information, and a list of their ongoing tasks. Managers can use the aggregated data in the process of assigning workers to various projects. The profiles pull in information from existing IDEO systems, including Microsoft Active Directory and a time-tracking application, he said.
Since every organization has a raft of such legacy software, a social-networking implementation is "like a custom-fit suit," he said. "What we try to do is take all these pieces together and make one experience."
Nearly all IDEO workers have now "taken ownership" of their personal profiles, he said.
That rate of adoption "never would have been possible by saying, 'OK, there's a new system and everyone is responsible for maintaining their people page," he said.
The company's approach saw it invite about 10 percent of its workforce -- choosing people who were seen as social leaders -- to use The Tube first. This created enough buzz to spark broader interest once it was made available company-wide.
The software's usability is another key focus for IDEO. Like Lockheed Martin, IDEO is using an agile development methodology to fine-tune its platform. A new version of The Tube is released every week. "The vision you're going to get this stuff right on the first step? It doesn't happen," Underwood said. "It needs to be thought of as a living system that is growing as the company does."