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  • [VIDEO PLAYBACK]

  • We had to take communication to a Web 2.0 environment.

  • We had to take it online.

  • I think the tools are incredible.

  • You get better loyalty, you get less office politics.

  • Taking an idea and really stretching it across the entire

  • organization and network out.

  • Meet individuals that are passionate around the same

  • thing to accomplish something that you'd never be able

  • to accomplish on your own.

  • Most companies traditionally communicate at employees.

  • They send a message to employees, and the message

  • gets received, you hope, and now we're done.

  • But that's not how the world works anymore.

  • Employees will start groups on Facebook, or MSN, or

  • at MySpace, or wherever.

  • They're already socializing.

  • Why not give them a venue where you can be part

  • of the conversation?

  • A group of us set out to say, well let's make a difference

  • and let's change this.

  • Blue Shirt Nation is a social networking website, something

  • very similar to MySpace.

  • Blue Shirt Nation has been pretty much like a lab for us.

  • It's allowed us to try a lot of different things, fail really

  • fast, and then try things again.

  • It gives me an opportunity to really connect with more of my

  • coworkers, not just here at the store but throughout

  • the entire company.

  • The WaterCooler is the online discussion forum that allows

  • employees to talk about whatever's on their mind.

  • It's the only method where I can actually talk to my team

  • from the comfort of my own home.

  • It's the fastest way to distribute information

  • across the entire store.

  • The use of Wiki makes our employees feel like they're

  • empowered, and that they can contribute to everything

  • within the company.

  • If the stores are learning something from the customers,

  • or any experiences, any events that they're having, they

  • can add in the Wiki page.

  • I have created the actual home theater page.

  • It supplies retail field information on home theater.

  • We also have contact lists on there if they

  • have any questions.

  • One of my employees had a great idea.

  • He came to me and said -- what do I do with this idea?

  • The idea itself was the Geek Squad gaming services.

  • I told him to go ahead and post on the Loop Marketplace.

  • The Loop Marketplace is where people can go to post

  • innovation ideas that they want some feedback on.

  • Four hours later my idea was up and people were

  • commenting on it.

  • I was funded.

  • Now it's going company-wide.

  • It was a pretty fun process actually.

  • With so many stores spread so far and wide apart, how do you

  • actually get people's voices into our most

  • important decisions?

  • How can companies use the power of the free market to help

  • drive their decision making?

  • Tools like the prediction market tool help us do that.

  • It's a web-enabled stock market game.

  • Stocks represent future events or future outcomes.

  • And people trade in the market based on what they think

  • will happen in the future.

  • If I'm leading a project and the stock is will this thing

  • launch on time, and then all of a sudden it went down

  • 20%, I instantly know that something has happened.

  • That gives me a chance to be able to have a voice to

  • leadership when they're seeing the stock, or they're seeing

  • the movement in changes going.

  • And know that the stuff that I know is valuable enough that

  • people want to hear it.

  • We talk about our core philosophies at Best Buy.

  • It allows us to bring our unique experiences and

  • ideas to the table.

  • You know, it's not easy to call up Brad Anderson and say -- hey

  • look, this is what I'm thinking.

  • You get better loyalty, you get less office politics.

  • And you create the conditions whereby this marketplace of

  • ideas can come to fruition.

  • We're talking more as a company at all levels, which is great.

  • I think we have to turn that transparency outward towards

  • the customer, and allow them to participate in the

  • conversations as well.

  • Imagine a Wikipedia not only populated by the masses looking

  • for knowledge, but also by a bunch of tech masters from Geek

  • Squad who are also using the same space for their own use.

  • Now you've got the quality of the crowd and some

  • Zen masters in the mix.

  • We're moving from a role of being the ones who own the

  • messages and deliver those to employees, to a role that

  • we are just facilitators.

  • We're encouraging, we're enabling.

  • We're getting ahead of the curve so that when those next

  • generations of folks come work for us, we're set up.

  • We already have everything ready to go for them.

  • It allows us to use those insights, that input, and that

  • feedback to do better at serving our customers.

  • [END VIDEO PLAYBACK]

  • SPEAKER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Vice Chairman

  • and CEO of Best Buy, Brad Anderson.

  • And Chairman, The Conversation Group, Peter Hirshberg.

  • BRAD ANDERSON: Peter, good to see you.

  • PETER HIRSHBERG: Hello Brad.

  • So when we think of Best Buy, this is an organization pushing

  • 3,000 stores and $50 billion in revenue, and it's in the

  • distribution business.

  • And that's not the first place I would think about as a

  • company as a Wiki, and pulling knowledge in from the edge.

  • So talk to me a little bit about the transformation, or

  • how such a traditional business is adopting some of these new

  • tools, and culturally what this power shift means.

  • BRAD ANDERSON: Well, we weren't actually built to do this, so

  • it's a little like taking a big engine and completely

  • flipping it.

  • But the great thing that we've had as an organization is we've

  • had to sell technology, which is always in flux

  • and transition.

  • There's nothing stable in the businesses that we sell.

  • So it made it a little easier to do this.

  • And essentially what we saw as the primary insight was that

  • our customer who we built to basically distribute goods and

  • services to, we're now going to be much more interested in how

  • they were going to use the product and with the

  • application of the product.

  • And instead of that being most easily served by one single

  • efficient methodology, that's now literally millions of

  • different choices that people are making in terms of-- so

  • we're going to have to go from a product distribution company

  • to a service company, and we're going to have to go to

  • a solution company.

  • And it would be a very wide array of solutions.

  • So this seemed like the only possible way to do it, and the

  • most exciting way to do it.

  • PETER HIRSHBERG: As I've watched your company over the

  • last year, I've seen you roll out experiments like the ones

  • that we've just seen where it almost looks like employees are

  • trying things, and you say that works, and then you're

  • learning from that.

  • So culturally here you have employees taking the lead,

  • folks on the line -- kids -- and then you have traditional

  • middle management doing things the way they should

  • be doing things.

  • What's it like at that wave front, when you have

  • traditional management coming up against power shift

  • and Wiki-esque things?

  • BRAD ANDERSON: Well this is something that I really think

  • there hasn't been anything close to enough dialogue about.

  • This is murder on middle management.

  • Or actually, the more senior the management

  • is the worse it is.

  • Because a lot of us who assume the role of leaders assume the

  • role of leaders because we like to be on stage.

  • And we like to assume the limelight, and we like

  • to make the decisions.

  • And this absolutely flips the role of the leader.

  • Because actually if I've got an idea, it's less effective than

  • if somebody in the field has an idea.

  • Because it has an authenticity coming out of the field that it

  • doesn't have coming from me, and it can develop a community

  • before it actually gets actionable.

  • So fundamentally as a leader, what I've got to be interested

  • in is not so much divining the great right strategy, but I

  • have to have the curiosity to do the right kind of listening.

  • And I have to know how to take whatever resources I can do as

  • a leader to marshall it behind initiatives that come from

  • somewhere else in the organization instead

  • of from the top.

  • And that's really been tough for us at the senior levels.

  • PETER HIRSHBERG: I think one of the reasons that this

  • innovation is happening at Best Buy first is there's almost a

  • perfect storm going on.

  • You're dealing in geeky technical things where you need

  • an awful lot of the collective knowledge of line employees and

  • customers, but your employee base is really interesting.

  • When Jennifer spoke earlier, she talked about the fact

  • that 50% of the world is under 25 years old.

  • And that's pretty much the Best Buy employee base.

  • So talk to me a little bit about the people who are at

  • the core of this kind of--

  • BRAD ANDERSON: Yeah, we had this enormous natural asset.

  • I sort of look essentially at organizations as they're

  • sort of energy pools.

  • And we've got 170,000 people with the potential insight

  • of 170,000 people.

  • And I know after 35 in starting in the stores, you're exactly

  • as motivated to deliver service as you feel like you're

  • engaged in the work.

  • So their level of energy for the whole enterprise rises

  • dramatically if I can feel like I'm actually engaged and not

  • just doing a job somebody else told me to do, but I'm actually

  • creating the job that I'm doing.

  • And with the technology we're talking about today, you

  • literally can do that.

  • Plus that our customers use the devices in so many different

  • ways, if we're going to mirror it we have to have a huge range

  • of capacity in able to be able to add value in the process.

  • So the economic potential for us as an organization, to be

  • able to sort of mirror those 22 year old-- our average age is

  • about 22 in terms of our employee base -- to mirror them

  • and their insight is just enormous.

  • And that's the adventure, to see if we can get

  • these two lined up.

  • PETER HIRSHBERG: That video went by quickly.

  • I want to go through a couple of the case studies there.

  • There was something called the Loop Marketplace.

  • Now this essentially replaces the suggestion box.

  • And what does everybody think of the employee suggestion box?

  • And in this case, you're actually using almost like a

  • financial market, where if an employee has an idea they

  • can make a suggestion.

  • And then if somebody in corporate wants to fund

  • it, it makes the market.

  • And the employee doesn't-- it's not just thanks

  • for the suggestion.

  • It's like here's some money, go ahead and do it.

  • BRAD ANDERSON: Yeah, and there's even a bigger

  • advantage before that.

  • Which is if I hear the loop and somebody in corporate doesn't

  • think it's worth anything, but I'm in another store somewhere

  • and I think that actually solves my problem, I can go

  • try that somewhere else.

  • And so if it doesn't land with the person in corporate

  • initially, I could have a small army starting to do it before--

  • that actually overwhelms the decision that winds up being

  • made at the corporation, because I've now got evidence

  • that it actually works.

  • PETER HIRSHBERG: And there's another financial market type

  • thing, which is Tag Trade.

  • Which is where you almost assign phantom stock to

  • programs, like how many of these DVD's will we

  • sell, or how will the Christmas promotion be.

  • And you track what employees think of the stock

  • going up and down.

  • BRAD ANDERSON: This was the first thing we had that

  • really got exciting.

  • Because we do Christmas forecasts every year, and as

  • you can imagine executive-- senior level executives-- if

  • you tell me that our results are going to be very good, I'm

  • enthusiastic about hearing that kind of input.

  • So there's a weighting to the dialogue that's always

  • there towards being overly optimistic in terms of

  • expectations of future.

  • And I've also got necessarily penalty.

  • If I've got something going on wrong, I may want to

  • kind of cover that up.

  • And by creating a marketplace where essentially anybody could

  • vote, you started to see patterns that almost become--

  • actually the first Christmas we used it, it was dead on in