Organization name: Christie Digital Systems
Program name: Innovation Café internal blog
Industry: Professional Audio Visual Solutions and Services
Name of contact: Audrey Heutzenroeder, global manager employee communications
Christie Digital Systems USA, Inc. is a global visual and audio technologies company and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ushio, Inc., Japan, (JP:6925). Consistently setting the standards by being the first to market some of the world’s most advanced projectors and complete system displays, Christie is recognized as one of the most innovative visual technology companies in the world. From retail displays to Hollywood, mission critical command centers to classrooms and training simulators, Christie display solutions and projectors capture the attention of audiences around the world with dynamic and stunning images.
Monday afternoon and my very first blog ever is due, today, by the stroke of midnight. As I race down to the other end of the building to interview Audrey Heutzenroeder, global manager of employee communications at Christie and keeper of Christie’s Innovation Café internal blog, I am stopped dead in my tracks by the following quote displayed on the Christie® MicroTiles® with topic heading, “Innovation Management”:
“There is no shortage of creativity or creative people in either academia or industry. The shortage is of innovators. All too often, people believe that creativity automatically leads to innovation. It doesn’t. Creative people tend to pass the responsibility for getting down to brass tacks to others.”
Ted Levitt – American marketing scholar and former Harvard Business Review editor
And there it is…the rallying cry…”go forth and innovate ye creatives”… welcome to the culture of innovation.
It all starts with a vision and Christie’s is:
We are committed to being the global leader in providing high quality,
innovative shared experiences that our customers love.
It’s vision that can create spectaculars like this:
…and this at the London Stock Exchange.
My case study explores Christie’s use of its internal blog site entitled, Innovation Café – an initiative started in the Research & Innovation group two years ago – to encourage employee participation and foster a community of innovative thinkers wherever Christie conducts its business.
It is the firm belief of the President & COO, Gerry Remers, that a connected, impassioned and engaged employee makes innovation happen and even better community that gives back.
Even Gerry blogs:
The layout of the Innovation Café
The site is accessible by all Christie employees from any part of the world 24/7: Christie has over 1,500 employees in 18 offices worldwide. Its international headquarters are in Cypress, California (not far from Disneyland). Its main engineering & design centre and manufacturing headquarters are in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada – where the projection industry began. You could say innovation is in the company’s DNA.
Employees are encouraged to submit or comment on posts, attend ideation sessions held once a year at all main offices, and follow a trend or topic of interest and report back to the community. The blog is for open discussions, creative collaborations and curious risk-taking.
To date, the Café is only available internally, but discussions have taken place to reach out to a wider external community.
Employee communications works three ways. Top down – employer to employee. Bottom up – employee to employer. The new direction is side-to-side – employee to employee. Creating forums, such as the Innovation Café blog, where employees can share their ideas with their peers opening up this lateral communication and in the process, employee motivation and engagement with the company. Employees are given a voice and a place to be heard. Their ideas are valuable and can change what the company does. And they stand as equals with every other Christie employee.
– Audrey Heutzenroeder, Innovation Cafe manager
Audrey explains the role that the Innovation Cafe plays in developing employee engagement globally
A variety of topics and trends are explored
From cool product demonstrations….
to collaborations and partnerships with liked-minded companies…
and even…controversial topics such as “the dress”…an explanation of why colour matters to Christie was presented by one of our esteemed optical engineers, Simon Guthrie. (By the way, this post was the most popular, to date.)
The blog continues to be a source of inspired stories on interesting projects and perspectives on what’s going on in the world. Although North America represents the majority of viewers, a growing number of Chinese employees are looking to the Innovation Café for exciting product advancements and perspectives on where the future lies for not only the company but the industry. The topics on the blog are global and of concern and relevance to all employees.
Open conversations and forums such as the Innovation Cafe (Christie employee blog) are required tools in a culture of innovation. For employees engaging in these conversations, their posts are a way to share ideas and insights and become thought leaders on topics of interest. In other instances, the posts help improve processes, create an involved community and better products that customers love. Afterall, the creative spirit within innovation relies on action to spur it forward.
Photos provided by Audrey Heutzenroeder, Christie Innovation Café
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