Historically, big business and industry relied heavily on hierarchical, one-way command structure and “top down” decision making. Today, mass collaboration is changing the way companies operate. A great example is The Geek Squad, the computer fix-it company now owned by Best Buy, who has an open management model, which means that they are considered a “service group” where employees collaborate with each other on new ways to provide services to clients. For instance, on their website, a consumer can ask a question, share an idea or report a problem, and not only is a Geek Squad employee standing by to respond but so are hundreds of other customers logged onto the site.
In addition, thousands of “Geeks” are using a growing suite of collaboration technologies to brainstorm new products and services, manage projects, swap service tips and socialize with their peers at various Best Buy locations. One way they did this was by using online multiplayer games, such as Battlefield 2 to stay in touch as the organization grew from 60 to 12,000 employees in just three years. Employees run the company and design products by collaborating over the internet; which is a major reason the company has grown so quickly. Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad says “We attract and retain talent longer, better and more efficiently than anybody else”. Part of Geek Squad’s ability to retain talent has to do with the branding and the fun workplace ethos that Stephens has cultivated. Through “bottom up” management, Stephens has learned to engage his employees or “agents” in a continuous process of innovation and improvement that keeps the agents motivated to perform at their highest level. Stephens even muses that he may “get the agents to convert Battlefield 2 into a Geek Squad video game that he can use for training and recruitment.” 
Big businesses are not the only ones collaborating via the internet today; many other people are using new technologies to collaborate. They are creating TV news stories, sequencing the human genome, remixing their favorite music, designing software, finding a cure for disease, editing school texts, inventing new cosmetics, and even building motorcycles.
Collaboration equals innovation.
Michael Dell, Dell Computers founder, CEO, and chairman
- How has the ability to collaborate over the internet changed today’s businesses?
- What key factors of The Geek Squad collaboration make it so successful?
- How does “bottom up” instead of “top down” management contribute to a collaborative work environment?