Tech Brew Interview with Yambla.com

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Traditional organisations are managed from the top-down: management defines the vision, the  strategy to attain the vision, and (hopefully) aligns the company to deliver on the strategy. But even great leaders can’t know everything: there is tremendous knowledge and experience to be found throughout the company. The trick is how to tap into this resource. One way is via Yambla.com.

Started 6 months ago by Yoeri Roels and Jordan Vermeir, Yambla is their answer to promoting ideas through organisations. As employees at their previous company, they were frustrated with the challenges they encountered trying to get their ideas heard. Promoting an idea from the bottom-up is filled with challenges: first you have to convince your boss it is a good idea. Then your boss has to also be convinced he won’t lose credibility if he takes it further. Repeat until the idea gets to the CEO, if it survives. It’s like struggling up a steep hill, in the snow, with ninjas attacking you along the way!

Organisational entrepreneurship, or intrapreneurship, appears to be a growing trend: have you noticed any job advertisements requesting people who are entrepreneurial? A quick search of ‘entrepreneurship’ on Monster.com brings up 1000+ results. However, making entrepreneurship work in a large company is not trivial.

There are two factors without which [intrapreneurship] can’t get off the ground:

  1. Encouragement and support from senior management
  2. Reassurance that even if the ideas fail the intrapreneur will not lose his or her job or be “punished” in other ways

(Ernst & Young. Igniting Innovation: How hot companies fuel growth from within. Nov 3, 2010)

Yoeri & Jordan

Which brings us back to Yambla.com. The idea behind Yambla is to make the process of generating ideas in a company a social and collaborative experience. Before you pitch your idea to your boss, you use Yambla to gain support from your peers.

First you post your idea, somewhat like a Facebook status message. Your post is then shared with one or more Super Awesome Ovals (circles) of peers, each of whom could be from your department or from a cross-functional group. Each person is able to comment and like the post, demonstrating their support for the post and helping to refine it. Once the idea has enough support, it is automatically promoted to the next level in the organization, your manager. But in this case, you have the support of your peers.

Of course there is much more to Yambla.com, but it looks like a powerful tool for organisations who are seeking new ideas or want to engender a culture of innovation. However, it will only work if the company – and management team – embrace the process and actually take the ideas seriously.

Listen to the podcast to learn more about Yambla, how they started, their steep learning curve, and who they admire. We paired this interview with a Chimay Cent Cinquante, a smooth beer brewed last year for Chimay’s 150th anniversary. If you can’t find it, try a Chimay Rouge instead.

Enjoy the interview and don’t forget to check out our calendar for upcoming events in Belgium.

Company Website: http://yambla.com

Company Twitter: @yambla_com

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