October 29, 2011

PwC Leading Like Idol

What does it take to spark creativity and innovation in the workforce, Hollywood style?

An article in Fortune Magazine this month (October 2011) presents how a top global Assurance, Tax, and Consultancy firm like Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) is reaching out to its people to harness creativity through a new program called PowerPitch.

PwC wants to cultivate a particular atmosphere. "We have an average age of 27, but we have roots in tax and assurance," says U.S. chairman Bob Moritz, using the industry jargon for auditing and related functions. "So how do you make this place feel like a Google or a Facebook? A place that feels leading-edge?"

PwC is spurring innovation using an firm-wide contest format and social media to drive innovation for their $29 billion organization.

An admitted fan of American Idol and The Apprentice, [Mitra] Best was drawn to the idea that contests and games could yield serious business results. Employees love the opportunity.”

The PwC program galvanizes a workforce into idea-generating teams, with proposals that are voted on and selected through an internal social media platform by all employees and others picked by a senior panel of leaders. Then the best ideas get leadership "advisors" who work with the teams to present to a top leadership committee. The best idea(s) win some nominal cash for the individuals on the winning team(s), and the proposals move forward with a "champion" to work with the team to actual launch.

PowerPitch is as PwC U.S. Chairman, Bob Mortiz, puts it "a [worthwhile] investment in time and money, but we needed to balance short-term costs against long-term sustainability."

Nearly 800 ideas were submitted from round 1 and these were narrowed down to the top 25 for round 2 and then ultimately to 5 teams of semifinalists and a winning best proposal--however all five ended up deemed "worthy of investing in."

And if even one of the proposals becomes the next $100 million line of business for the company, it will be more than worth the investment.

PowerPitch may not have Simon Cowell from American Idol to keep the competitors on their toes or Donald Trump from The Apprentice to say "You're fired!", but it has enough of excitement, morale-boosting, idea generation and widespread collaboration to keep an organization out front and advance their mission and workforce.

(Source Photo: here)


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