When IDEO needed something better than a wiki for internal collaboration, they turned to ThoughtFarmer.

IDEO is the company that designed the Swiffer Sweeper for Procter & Gamble, the Palm V personal digital assistant for 3Com, and the first mouse for Apple. They devised the “Keep the Change” account service for Bank of America, the Windows Home Computing concept for Microsoft, and the Coasting Bicycle design strategy for Shimano.

Recently, IDEO embarked on a new project to empower their internal communities to create and manage their own online collaborative spaces. With more than 500 employees in eight offices around the world, they sought better ways to share knowledge and collaborate across physical distances.

“We knew that wikis promised much of what we were after,” says Gentry Underwood, project lead for the initiative. “But most of the intranet tools on the market are too difficult to use. We wanted something intuitive and straightforward, that our communities could pick up and start using without training.”

Gentry’s team tested more than 20 intranet management software systems in search of one that would be both simple and powerful enough to provide their community with basic online collaboration and communication abilities. In the end, they chose ThoughtFarmer.

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Screenshot of the “Spaces” portion of IDEO’s social intranet, powered by ThoughtFarmer

Today, IDEO’s intranet management software installation is an eclectic mix of ideas, conversations, reference documents and project materials. The content is fluid and constantly changing: every day edits are made as pages evolve, new discussions emerge and new files are uploaded.

“Our ThoughtFarmer system has been a big success within the organization,” says Gentry. “After only six months, we’re seeing literally hundreds of times more activity than any other wiki-like tool we’ve ever used. It’s already become an integral piece of our intranet.”

Also see: Sneak Peak at IDEO’s Take on Knowledge Sharing

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