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Not All That Jazz : Jamband as a Metaphor for Organizing New Models of Innovation


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This study aims to understand, using a longitudinal framework the relationship between themes within the “jamband” music genre and innovation jams as a model for organizational innovation. It suggests the conventional metaphor for innovation-jazz, which has dominated our way of conceptualizing models of innovation, limits our understanding of contemporary and emerging forms of innovation. The study situates the jazz and jamband metaphors within the management literature and provides a comparative view between the music genres to enrich our understanding about organizational innovation. Three emergent themes evolved from this study that provides insight into organizing emerging models of innovation that are evocative of the jamband music genre. Using the themes of sense of community, collaborative feedback and knowledge sharing and expertise integration, this research explores how IBM Innovation Jams evolve from a concept, tool and service. The study concludes with a discussion on the implications of the findings for theorizing about new models of organizing innovation.
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Not all that jazz! Jamband as a metaphor for organizing new models of
Steve Diasio
Department of Management, University of South Florida-St. Petersburg, 140 7th Ave S, St Petersburg, FL 33701, USA
article info
Article history:
Received 26 May 2015
Received in revised form
18 November 2015
Accepted 26 January 2016
Available online 22 February 2016
Open innovation
Innovation jams
This study aims to understand, using a longitudinal framework the relationship between themes within
the jambandmusic genre and innovation jams as a model for organizational innovation. It suggests the
conventional metaphor for innovation-jazz, which has dominated our way of conceptualizing models of
innovation, limits our understanding of contemporary and emerging forms of innovation. The study
situates the jazz and jamband metaphors within the management literature and provides a comparative
view between the music genres to enrich our understanding about organizational innovation. Three
emergent themes evolved from this study that provides insight into organizing emerging models of
innovation that are evocative of the jamband music genre. Using the themes of sense of community,
collaborative feedback and knowledge sharing and expertise integration, this research explores how IBM
Innovation Jams evolve from a concept, tool and service. The study concludes with a discussion on the
implications of the ndings for theorizing about new models of organizing innovation.
©2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Music as a metaphor for organizing
Using music and jazz as a metaphor for organizing is not new.
With over 1300 citations (according to Google Scholar), the jazz
metaphor has been used to understand several elements of man-
agement including: organizational analysis, improvisation and
learning (Hatch, 1998, 1999; Weick, 1998). Researchers have
extended the use of jazz as a mechanism to understand organiza-
tional innovation processes by suggesting that sub-genres of jazz
may better represent the spirit of innovation (Zack, 2000). The
relationship between jazz and innovation has been of continuous
interest to researchers in product innovation (Kamoche &Cunha,
2001; Kamoche, Cunha, &Cunha, 2003), the management of
organizational innovation (Bastien &Hostager, 1988), and the
organizational structure and managerial control (Pasmore, 1998).
Theorizing through the lens of a jazz band has aided in the un-
derstanding of complex concepts and frameworks, such as the
process of innovation and its related constructs. This has shed light
on the interplay of actors within the organization, the role that
actors play between them, the connection to organizational sys-
tems, and in-leveraging knowledge and expertise for creativity and
innovation (Kao, 1996). The jazz metaphor has enriched our
understanding of strategic decision making (Eisenhardt, 2003) and
in explaining cultural differences and leadership within organiza-
tions (Walzer &Salcher, 2003). Table 1 highlights how prevalent
the metaphor of jazz has used to enlighten us within the man-
agement literature.
Though the jazz metaphor has enriched our understanding of
conventional approaches to innovation, the adoption of jazz as a
form of theorizing about organizing has received considerable
resistance(Hatch &Weick, 1998, p. 600). This opposition has been
due to limits of its applicationthat has highlighted its historical
roots as being potentially insular or exclusive (Hatch &Weick,
1998). This parochial approach is evident through its limiting
sources of (limits on) diversity (Hatch &Weick, 1998, p. 600). In
fact, this view may show limited understanding of music genres
and music history, thus undermining how music genres have
facilitated different approaches to improvisation, creativity and
innovation and needs to be understood within a collective, cultural
context(Nettl, 1974). Table 2 shows a comparative view of music
genres. In acknowledging researchers' and scholars' interest in jazz
and innovation, it is the new developments in the advancement of
technology that potentially push the boundaries of the jazz genre in
understanding emerging innovation practices-creating paradoxes
and conicts in understanding these new models. Emerging modes
of innovation and the technology that supports them, give re-
searchers the opportunity to use other genres in aiding the
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European Management Journal 34 (2016) 125e134
explanation of how organizational innovation can be arranged. This
paper explores how the contemporary music genre of a jamband
enlightens our understanding of new and open models of
The paper is outlined as follows: rst a review of the musical
genre of a jamband and how it will help in the understanding of
organizational innovation, then an introduction to the relationship
of technology in shaping open models of innovation. Next, the
paper describes the methods used, data collection and analysis that
were made. From this, the emergent themes are discussed as IBM
engaged with innovation jams. Next, an evolutionary perspective of
innovation jams evolving from a concept, to a tooland to a service is
presented. Lastly, the paper provides a discussion on the implica-
tions and conclusions from this study.
2. Contextualizing the musical genre
IBM has leveraged the musical genre of a jamband as a way of
organizing innovation. The use of the jamband metaphor will serve
two purposes: (1) act as a tool to understand new objects and
situations and, (2) allow us to refer to these new objects consis-
tently through analogies as we relate them to known objects
(Lakoff, 1990). Moreover, the jamband metaphor will aid us in
describing the emergent development and use of innovation jams
as IBM at they learned to engage with a model of organizing
A jam band utilizes similar aspects found within the jazz genre
such as improvisation, experimentation, and experience to speed
up the pace of innovation(Pasmore, 1998, p. 562), but has the
propensity to cross genre boundaries, drawing from a wide-
spectrum of musical traditions. A jam band combines and recom-
bines aspects of several genres in various forms to create a new
genre that is not bound by the constraints of any single genre and
allows for variation in the creation of music.
Beyond incorporating aspects of jazz, a jam band employs a
toolbox of genres from blues, bluegrass, funk, rock, psychedelia, and
even techno to make and change the harmonic structure, melody,
and rhythm of a song as it is being created (Budnick, 2003). By using
this toolbox of genres, the characteristics of a jam band would allow
for song crafting with both individual and group-minded
improvisation that may last for lengthy periods, far from the pre-
dened notes, chords, and scales with little resemblance of the
original song (Tuedio &Spector, 2010). Each genre offers its own
history, tradition, and repertoire to manage the complexity of
making music. Since organizations employ a variety of strategies to
manage the complexity of the innovation process, using the jam-
band genre metaphor potentially provides a vehicle to improve the
way we talk about and understand new methods of organizing
innovation. In addition, the jamband genre which is associated with
inuencing change emphasizes a sense of community, collabora-
tion, and sharing among the participants may help to invoke un-
derstanding of the latent elements in contextualizing new
emergent models of organizing innovation.
Using the themes of sense of community, collaborative feedback
and knowledge sharing, and expertise integration, this research
explores how IBM innovation jams evolve from a concept, tool and
service. Through this process we suggest the changing denition of
jams and posit jams in relation to ten dimensions.
Table 1
The jazz metaphor within the management literature.
Constructs linked to the jazz metaphor Corresponding management literature
Strategic decision-making Eisenhardt (2003)
Cultural differences and leadership Walzer and Salcher (2003)
Organizational innovation and creativity Zack (2000); Bastien and Hostager (1988); Kao (1996)
Organizational improvisation Weick (1998)
Product innovation Kamoche and Cunha (2001); Kamoche et al. (2003)
Organizational structure and control Pasmore (1998)
Organizational learning and theorizing Lewin (1998); Crossan (1998); Peplowski (1998); Hatch (1998, 1999)
Table 2
Comparative view of music genres.
Jazz Jamband
Insular, exclusive and closed Inclusive and open
Limited diversity Extensive diversity
Limited applications Broad applications
No sharing of intellectual property Open to sharing intellectual property
Draws from a single musical genre for creation Propensity to cross musical genre boundaries for variation
Associated with dened social circles Associated with inuencing change and collective approach
Table 3
Chronology and context of data collection.
Source of data World Value World Habitat Global Innov. SmWrk GIPulse SocBus
Jam Jam Jam Jam Jam Jam Jam Jam Jam
2001 2003 2004 2005 2006 2008 2009 2010 2011
IBM Innovation Jam reports * * * * * * * * n/a
News &trade publications * * * * * * * * *
Participant observations &eld notes ***
Interviews &correspondence
**** *** * *
Jam forums ***
Interviews and correspondence were about Innovation Jams at IBM and conducted between 2009 and 10.
S. Diasio / European Management Journal 34 (2016) 125e134126
3. Open innovation and technology
Research into the practices of open innovation at IBM has been
widely cited. In fact, IBM is one of the keystone cases that the open
innovation paradigm is founded upon (Chesbrough, 2003;
Chesbrough, Vanhaverbeke, &West, 2006) and offers insight into
IBM's transformation from a closed system of innovation to an open
form. The open innovation paradigm proposes inows and out-
ows of knowledge to accelerate innovation for product innovation
(Chesbrough et al., 2006) and service innovation (Chesbrough,
2011). Outlined in IBM's CEO eLou Gerstner's book, Who Says El-
ephants Can't Dance? Inside IBM's Historic Turnaround, IBM needed
to focus on bringing its customers closer to utilize what Gerstner
believed was IBM's unique and unequaled capability to apply
complex technologies to solve business challenges(Gerstner,
2002, p. 125). The transition IBM made to bridge emerging tech-
nologies within IBM and knowledge ows within the organiza-
tional network contextualizes the changing innovation paradigm.
By using this foundational case and the context of emerging
innovation technology at IBM, it will help illuminate the limits of
the conventional metaphor of jazz and the potential insight the
jamband genre may provide.
Like a jam band that uses different genre tools to induce change
within a song, organizations use technology to inuence their
practices. The open innovation research stream
has led re-
searchers to explore how technologies shape and support more
open models of innovation practices (Christensen &Maskell, 2003;
Dodgson, Gann, &Salter, 2006; Pavitt, 2003), even arguing these
technologies have the potential to reshape the way rms organize
their innovative activities across the organization (Dodgson, Gann,
&Salter, 2005). This reshaping of the organizational innovation
process impacts the structure of the internal innovation process
and the cognitive modeling of innovation.
Focusing on practices of open innovation, researchers have
offered understanding on the role technology can play (Dodgson &
Gann, 2013; Kohler, Matzler, &Fuller, 2009). Much of this focus has
been to understand the role of emerging technologies; however
innovation jams have largely been overlooked. Given that these
emerging technologies can be harnessed in a variety of capacities,
individually or in combination, we consider these technologies as
being arranged and embedded in a larger technological system, in
which innovation jams can be observed at IBM.
4. Method
This research was based on a longitudinal study of the IBM
innovation jam platform (Table 1) and emergent themes from the
jamband music genre. IBM can be seen as a rare or uniquecase, in
that it is a revelatory case that presents the opportunity for re-
searchers' to observe and analyze a phenomenon that is under-
studied or novel, as well as to answer howand whyquestions
(Eisenhardt, 1989; Yin, 1984). Since the constitutive relationship
between innovation jams and jambands have not been adequately
examined in studies of a large organizational innovation process,
we used an embedded design for this study. Embedded case de-
signs use multiple levels of analysis to create a rich and reliable
account of organizational processes (Yin, 1984). This study focuses
on IBM from three levels of analysis (1) the technology level (2)
organizational level (3) processual level.
5. Data sources
To effectively triangulate important elements jambands repre-
sented in the organizational innovation process, we combined data
collection methods such as archives, textual analysis, participant
observation, and interviews (Eisenhardt, 1989). We used three
primary and two secondary data sources (Table 3) that include: (1)
internal and public reports about IBM innovation jam events, (2)
published materials about IBM organizational change and its
innovation jam platform, (3) participant observation in innovation
jams, (4) interviews and correspondence with the Program Director
and the founder of the Jam Program Ofce and Collaborative
Innovation and the Chief Strategist, and (5) jam forum data from
three innovation jams. From the collected data found below,
reconstruction of past contexts, processes, and decisions were
possible in order to discover patterns and nd underlying mecha-
nisms over time (Pettigrew, 1990) and provided varying distances
between the researcher and the phenomenon understudy.
5.1. Innovation jam reports
As IBM was a focal company and pillar case study for a larger
project, deep engagement with the company ensued from early
2009 to 2011, culminating with the sharing of internal and public
reports about each of the IBM Innovation Jam events from 2001 to
2010. In each of the innovation jam reports collected, we paid close
attention to the changes in description of each innovation jam, the
technology use, and processes around the implementation, facili-
tation, and hosting of the innovation jam. Following Cheney and
Christensen (2001), these communication reports of internal
organizational processes bring to light ideologies about intended
5.2. Published materials
As a result of the novelty of innovation jams and large-scale
collaboration, news reports in both daily and trade press publica-
tions have been widely circulated. Using archival databases, we
collected articles about IBM innovation jams that were reported in
daily local and international newspapers from February 2001 to
February 2011, three months prior to the rst innovation jam at IBM
and up to the latest innovation jam held in 2011. Newspapers
included all major national US newspapers from across the country
and two major trade newspapers internationally. Articles contained
either (1) public discourse about the company and the nature of the
innovation jam being held, or (2) reections on the innovation jam
from participants after the innovation jam. In total, we collected
nearly 145 news articles about innovation jams. Criteria for
including an article were its timeframe of being published and it
specically mentioning the inuence of innovation jams at IBM on
its innovation process. Innovation jams have received a signicant
amount of attention outside of academia-particularly in practi-
tioner journals (Bjelland &Chapman Wood, 2008) and books
(Howe, 2008; Surowiecki, 2004), these provided further back-
ground knowledge that led to better understanding of innovation
5.3. Participant observation
Next, invitations to participate in IBM hosted Innovation Jams
were extended. The researchers participated in SmartWork Jam
2009, GlobalPulse Jam 2010, and SocialBusiness Jam 2011. From
this, over 70 h of participant observation were recorded and pro-
vided real-time insight into the most recent developments of
innovation jams. Observations were documented resulting in a
See Dahlander and Gann (2010) for a review of openness in open innovation
S. Diasio / European Management Journal 34 (2016) 125e134 127
total of 100þpages of eld notes. This provided experiential access
to the local environment of participating in innovation jams using
the technology, posts within the jam forums, and observing other
participants. In addition, participation included pre and post
innovation jam events.
5.4. Interviews and correspondence
Over the two year-project a lengthy dialogue with IBM was
maintained. This dialogue, facilitated by the IBM Program Director
and the founder of the Jam Program Ofce and Collaborative
Innovation and Chief Strategist, was documented. Before inter-
viewing, background information was gathered by the authors. This
helped in identifying detailed questions to how innovation jams
have aided IBM in its innovation strategy and how innovation jams
have evolved over time. A semi-structured approach to interview-
ing allowed for opportunities to explore the technical and social
aspects of innovation jams, particularly the history, present use,
and vision of innovation jams at IBM. Transcripts were made and
conrmed for authenticity.
5.5. Jam forum data
Forum data on three innovation jams from 2009 to 2011
including: posts, participant information (ex. location, age, gender,
afliation, job role, language) and content were collected.
6. Data analysis
Since our framework suggests innovation jams have changed as
IBM engaged with the new model of innovation, we constructed a
historical perspective. This helped to explain relationships between
historical factors pertaining to innovation jams transitional periods
of development and IBM's move towards leveraging technology for
more open forms of innovation that resonates with the jamband
genre metaphor.
In the preliminary stage we organized our data chronologically
based on the order in which each innovation jam was held. This was
done by ordering each innovation jam event from the collected
data- IBM innovation jam reports, news and trade publications,
participant observation eld notes, and interview and correspon-
dence transcripts in order to corroborate each innovation jam ac-
count over multiple sources. This provided a historical perspective
of innovation jams as well as exploring the social context within
IBM that innovation jams operate in (Klein &Myers, 1999). For this
study an iterative approach to coding and analysis was adopted.
Thus, to identify the ways in which innovation jams inuenced the
innovation process, we followed three stages of coding practices
outlined by Strauss and Corbin (1998) within and across each
innovation jam. We engaged in an open coding strategy within (and
across) each innovation jam to categorize the data collected
(innovation jam reports, observations eld notes, interview tran-
scriptions, and news &trade publications) in order to group like
concepts that described what transpired and how it occurred. An
inductive approach allowed for insights to emerge from each
innovation jam independently.
Next, through our analysis, we grouped these rst-order themes
by constructing subcategories, and regrouped the data into clusters
of similar activities allowing conceptual links to emerge. From this,
we combined these provisional rst-order categories into fewer,
broader and theoretically relevant groupings (Fig. 1) that addressed
more directly the overarching questions driving the investigation
(Locke, 2001).
After all of the data had been analyzed in this fashion within
each innovation jam, we applied a similar process across each
innovation jam. Finally, we integrated our analyses from each
category into a set of core ndings, building on relationships be-
tween rst order-second order categories and theoretical di-
mensions (Fig. 2). This iteration between data, concepts, and
emerging patterns ended when we reached theoretical saturation.
Denitions were developed at the different stages for the rst and
second order codes to help guide our analysis.
To add context to these ndings, we constructed a chronological
outline of the relationship between innovation jams and the
organizational innovation process over the 10-year time frame. This
allowed us to concentrate our attention on expounding the
important similarities and differences in regards to changes in
technology, process, and use across the innovation jams. No prior
hypotheses were made as to what took place across the innovation
jams. Relationship renement was made through revisiting the
data in an attempt to nd patterns between the innovation jams
that could indicate changes.
From this analysis naturally occurring phase changes began to
emerge. To avoid arbitrary partitions and to develop a systematic
way to identify phase changes, we included circumstances recog-
nized as signicant by the organizational actants, changes that
differed in innovation jam practices, and the strategic organiza-
tional perspective to leverage innovation jams. Partitions signal the
end of one phase and the start of another-what are later called
critical phase change events. In this step, triangulation of sources
(innovation jam reports, interviews, eld notes,and news and trade
publications) helped us rene and strengthen our analysis in
demarcating the phase changes that occurred over time. In the
following section we present the interpretative framework that has
Fig. 1. Methodological model.
S. Diasio / European Management Journal 34 (2016) 125e134128
7. Innovation jam adoption and jam band themes
Through the analysis several themes emerged as a result of
IBM's continued experimentation with innovation jams. These
themes, which were initiated in an effort to help implement suc-
cessful innovation jams, provided a series of supporting themes in
cultivating an open approach to organizational innovation. Ac-
cording to the Director of Innovation Jams:
It [InnovationJams] really helped us. Jam served as a changing
factor in IBMs culture and how we collaborate across our
Each theme occurred over time as IBM continued to experiment
with innovation jams and resonate with the characteristics of the
jamband genre in that the underlying codes have similar attributes
between them. These themes, illustrate how the emergent devel-
opment of innovation jams have inuenced IBM's innovation
practices by aligning its workforce behind IBM's goal to build a
communal sense of creating innovation. We explore these themes
8. Sense of community
Sense of community is an important part of the jam band cul-
ture and evidence suggest the same for innovation jams. The
physicality of the jamband musical experience is ingrained into the
jam band culture-through the connection between the band and
the audience and the audience themselves. The growth of jam
bands pushed the boundaries of musical venues and of
communities as a result of the size of the audience that followed
jam bands from venue to venue. In effort to accommodate the
growing interest in live jam band performances-the live musical
events were moved to giant stadiums and festivals. These giant
venues provided a platform for the large audience to experience the
jam band experience, before, during and after the event. Moving to
a larger platform altered the sense of community from a small
niche community to an accessible community for many to experi-
ence the jam band culture. The progression into large venues also
pushed the limits of technology and community, which made
sound boarding or tuning of the equipment more complex, in
addition to the complexity of organizing crowds of over 600,000
and their communal sense towards each other across time and
Much like the constraints of one platform for jam bands, inno-
vation jams development faced similar constraints with platforms
for these innovative events. The success in participation in the form
of idea generation and excitement for large-scale collaboration
gave IBM incentives to develop independent platforms for specic
audiences and purposes instead of relying on existing infrastruc-
ture that was less adaptable to the company's changing innovation
process. It is important to say one size does not t all, you have
natural communities within an organization that are ready to embrace
this and some communities that need to be shown the business value
and then they themselves will come on board and be a signal showing
they are supportive of it. So the fact you can garner top-down and
bottom-up support for this is a very practical way on how to approach
By arranging different platforms, IBM aligned the audience to
the problem to be addressed. In effort to align their global work-
force, IBM developed different platforms for large scale collabora-
tion to occur for different segments of the organization. IBM
Fig. 2. Data structure.
S. Diasio / European Management Journal 34 (2016) 125e134 129
developed a Global Innovation Jam that provided support for a
global discussion across the organizational segments and was
typically sponsored from the CEO level. This resulted in a broad
focus approach to problem solving and the inclusion of a bigger
community of participants (also known as jammers) with up to
300,000 participants. For a more focused jam, IBM developed a
separate platform called a MiniJam that targeted a narrower audi-
ence for a more specic intent. The MiniJam was typically sup-
ported by heads of business units. For instance, the use of a MiniJam
provided IBM with the option to direct problems to a more focused
crowd across the functional levels of the organization, creating a
different user experience that helped to connect people into the
discussion more quickly. The MiniJam was tailored to target smaller
more specic audiences for faster solution providing and even
greater in-depth discussion.
9. Collaborative feedback
In exploring the theme collaborative feedback-a bidirectional
communication between an audience and originator, data suggests
this enabled an iterative approach of communication between the
innovation jam hosts and the audience. Much like in the jamband
genre and in response to spontaneous suggestions of band mem-
bers and/or feedback from audience members, jam bands alter
their songs and playlist as a way to respond to the jamband com-
munity. Jam bands audiences are known to have contributed to
naming and monitoring of songs by voting and record keeping of
the songs that have not been played as part of their followings and
commitment to the band. It is here the relationship between jam-
bands and their audience manifests, which is acted out before,
during and after live performances and across time being acted out
over the different tours from year to year.
Collaborative feedback evolved in the innovation jam commu-
nity through similar mechanisms. A Jam Scorecard-released quar-
terly, provided a monitoring mechanism to jam outcomes and
progress. The purpose of a Jams Scorecard linked ideas generated in
each jam and the outcomes from these ideas.
we also report on
our Jams Scorecard where we are, the executive in charge of the idea,
idea number and a red, yellow, green status of the project. This [jams
scorecard] accountability and visibility shows where the ideas are at.
This is important because it's telling IBMers that we will do another
massive Jam and they should pay attention and participate because
they can see the ideas are being implemented and the accountability is
The Jams Scorecard, presented with IBM's quarterly earnings
report was published internally and reected important quantita-
tive and qualitative metrics on the project. Metrics included a broad
summary where the project stood, identied the executives in
charge of the idea, idea number, and the status of the project. This
showed accountability, visibility, control, and commitment to the
ideas and solutions that were derived from the innovation jams. By
providing this feedback, it provided a response to the ideas and
intellectual property that was shared during the innovation jam
and strengthened the notion that participant (i.e. employees, man-
agers, external stakeholders) contributions and ideas were being
implemented and valued by top management. The feedback
through the Jams Scorecard showed the depth of how this new
model of innovation had become and how ingrained innovation
jams evolved within IBM's innovation strategy.
Feedback mechanisms continued to evolve as innovation jams
developed that allowed participants to rate, vote and review ideas
and comments until the innovation jam ended and often extended
outside of the innovation jam period. This allowed for further
renement of ideas and gave executives and managers greater
focus on where promising ideas were and how to respond with
resources. These mechanism built support for contributed ideas
from the bottom-up, which gave greater transparency to this new
model of organizing innovation. Executives and managers support
through this feedback, gave clear indication to which ideas, prod-
ucts, services, and initiatives that would likely succeed, since they
were being supported from those who would be implementing
10. Knowledge sharing and expertise integration
Having established the context of open innovation and tech-
nology relationship we examined the data to understand the pro-
cesses through which innovation jams emerged using the jamband
metaphor to guide us. Characteristics of the jamband genre can be
viewed from several levels in facilitating new models of organizing
innovation. First we explored this on the organizational level and
the impact of knowledge sharing and expertise integration. The same
way a jamband would use multiple genres and the knowledge
within each of these genres in creating its music-for example rock
rhythm patterns with a country/folk progression, IBM leveraged
emerging technologies and platforms that had developed frag-
mentally in separate business units to help craft innovation jams.
Each business unit with its own processes, technology and exper-
tise provided aspects of their knowledge through their technology
and know-how to be integrated into the creation of innovation
jams. This could be seen in the adoption of innovation technology
(IvT) (Dodgson et al., 2005) that offered opportunities in bridging
IBM's internal innovation process, internally developed technology,
and aspects of open innovation that were being implemented with
success in other parts of the organization. Instead of relying on the
knowledge of different musical genres in which jam band musi-
cians would need to know, IBM extracted its deep technological
knowledge from different parts of its organization each with their
own area of expertise. This transformation was to move beyond
independent implementing of new processes, technology, thinking
or models, but was focused on integrating expertise from each
areas developed technology to spread innovative activity outward
in the organization. This enabled its workforce regardless of busi-
ness unit or job boundaries to be involved in the organization of
innovation. By pushing the innovation process outward within IBM,
it was in turn bringing knowledge and expertise of its existing
workforce inward to be utilized. From the technology perspective,
part of what we want to do with the Jam, we look at emerging tech-
nology within IBM and research if it will be appropriate for a Jam.
we are exploring technology around visualization. So, when we start
typing, why not use the data mining tool to real time and crawl
through those feeds and identify themes or discussions where thereis a
close match to what your suggestion is and either add toor start a new
discussion thread. It will recommend that to you and post that into the
discussion thread.
Next, we discuss how IBM utilized technology and knowledge
across the organization, as IBM's innovation jam platform emerged
and evolved overtime that situate the explored themes.
11. Evolution of innovation jams: concept, tool, and service
IBM learned to engage with innovation jams through a series of
phases that we focus on to illustrate the evolution of this new
model of organizing innovation. Each phase built from the previous
phase successes, which appear as a process, evolved in each
attempt, less from planned precisions and more out of continuously
challenging the limits from were innovation can come from and the
basic assumptions of innovation that IBM had previously held.
Herewith in these phases are the reshaping of the internal inno-
vation process and the changing locus of innovation at IBM. Each
S. Diasio / European Management Journal 34 (2016) 125e134130
phase represented the alignment of context appropriate innovation
to IBM's innovation needs. These phases describe this context
appropriate innovation and innovation jam evolution from 1) an
early conceptual phase that had rudimentary resemblance to to-
day's existing innovation jam platform, 2) to a tool phase-that
helped management facilitate IBM's innovation process, and 3) to
a service phase, where harnessing innovative activity from the
periphery and untapped workforces enabled innovation jams to be
delivered as an innovation service to IBM's clients. Fig. 3 maps IBM's
innovation jam evolution phases of concept, tool, and service to
their degree of platform integration in IBM's innovation strategy,
phase complexity, and source of knowledge. It emphasizes how
innovation jams have been adopted and integrated into IBM's
innovation strategy, while complexity has grown with technolog-
ical advancements and the addition of new sources of knowledge.
While the different phases of evolution for innovation jams have
overlapping attributes for innovation, they differ signicantly in
their enabling assumptions about innovation (Table 4). Table 4
contrasts how the different phases in terms of the locus of inno-
vation evolution, knowledge ows, actants, denition of, techno-
logical changes, and the enabling assumptions of the domain
boundaries under which they occurred. Table 4 provides a context
to understand the themes that have emerged as IBM engaged with
innovation jams. This provides insight into how these attributes
changed over time.
11.1. Concept phase
An early form of innovation jams at IBM commenced in 2001 as
a result of a companywide self-reection initiative to drive inno-
vation internally. IBM believed by tapping into its extensive work-
force and by bridging people and departments, greater cross-
fertilization of ideas and solutions could accelerate R&D. World
Jam 2001 was a new medium to connect people and ideas together
through IBM's existing intranet, as an attempt to capture and
explore internal knowledge and information exchanged that facil-
itated cross-functional dialogues throughout IBM. As an open space
where participants can move from topic to topic and cross-pollinate
ideas, individuals of all ranks could talk to each other and
communicate through forum posts. This new medium primarily
played the role as a knowledge repository of these posts. This early
form of innovation jams was a rst in providing a platform for
communication across physical boundaries and hierarchy, while
bridging time and space across (Redening Manager Interaction at
IBM Report, 2002) the company and world, while building a sense of
community in the innovation process.
With almost 53,000 participants all IBM employees creating
more than 268,000 posts, internal user support included a light
technical cast maintaining a database for knowledge and infor-
mation retention. Consequently, all intellectual property (IP) con-
cerns were managed under standard business policies and
maintained internally. Moreover, the concept phase of innovation
jams played one component of a larger innovation strategy for IBM
and considered an experimental top-down approach to innovation
because of the pre-ltering of information determining what in-
formation and knowledge was made available before and after an
event. IBM would later cede more control over the information that
circulated around and who would interact with one another as a
result of IBM's willingness to continue to experiment with larger-
scale communication platforms and advancements in technology
that were occurring internally.
The overwhelming response to World Jam 2001 provided a
foundation for future innovation jams to be held. Though World
Jam 2001 participation and evolvement was encouraging came at a
cost. For innovation jams to move into the next process phase
several critical technological and phase changes where required.
First, the existing technology and infrastructure was seen as an
inhibitor to innovation jams use and a new independent platform
was needed for scaling, enabling better computer-mediated sup-
port for different languages and technology to support synchro-
nous and asynchronous use. Scaling allowed for future inclusion of
external participants and subject matter experts. Lastly, to manage
a large-scale conversation with more effectiveness, data analysis
tools were needed in order to sift through the large number of ideas
and information that participants contributed to create a more
immersive user experience. Changes ensued with the adoption of
companywide technologies such as; blogs, wikis, and other online
tools, along with cross-functional collaboration, creating interac-
tion with unprecedented levels of richness.
11.2. Tool phase
Innovation Jam 2006 marked a turn in innovation jams from a
concept to a management tool at IBM. Within the tool phase,
innovation jams became a key component of a larger management
strategy for innovation at IBM. The tool phase for innovation jams
invoked a new genre of corporate interaction that, by its very na-
ture can only take place in computer-mediated virtual environ-
ment. This new computer-mediated environment provided greater
structure for large-scale discussion through the extension of tech-
nology in the form of data analysis, metric tools and pre and post-
jam user support that allowed for greater idea generation, evalu-
ation and collaboration. The transition into the tool phased allowed
external collaborators to participate with innovation jams. Though
participation was limited to family members of IBM employees, it
was a step to include external knowledge and collaborators so IBM
could tap into a broader range of contributors for idea generation
and evaluating. Subject matter experts were used as facilitators and
moderators in supporting the ow of discussion to constructively
develop issues raised within the innovation jam. Facilitators and
moderators steered the dialogue, encouraged participation and
deeper thinking, offering insight into the topic, or by identifying
contributions that have the potential for immediate
The tool phase ushered in a more pragmatic outlook on open
and collaborative work where innovation jams were seen as event
and a catalyst for innovation that extended participation before and
Fig. 3. Mapping IBM innovation jams platform integration, complexity, and sources of
S. Diasio / European Management Journal 34 (2016) 125e134 131
after an innovation jam was held. The Global Innovation Jams 2006
evolved into a two stage jamming (action of participating and
contributing in an innovation jam) process. Stage one was for idea
generation and discussion of promising ideas. Stage two took place
after, when executive and management reviewed the plethora of
ideas by opening the innovation process further through focused
sessions for idea renement. This gave management areas to hone
in on to connect top ideas with the needed nancial commitment
and key actants to produce these ideas into real outcomes. A Jam at
its heart is a management tool, a strategic communication tool. Early
team members were from the corporate communications department.
Today, the team is separate and part of the Enterprise Transformation
unit under the CIO enshrined to harness IBM's culture for innovation.
As the complexity of innovation jams increased, IBM commit
greater resources to the implementation and hosting of this new
model of innovation. The Innovation Jam 2006 required jammers to
be familiarized with emerging technologies being integrated into
innovation jams. Prior to the innovation jam beginning, facilitators,
moderators and family members of IBM employees were expected
to review the innovation jam objectives, on-line materials, inno-
vation jam rules and sit for training on the new independent
platform. The jam rules established a protocol to protect closely
held IP to inhibit external collaborators from commercialized ideas
elsewhere. Technological changes such as data analysis and metric
tools where incorporated for measuring participation, contribution,
and collaboration, while the use of virtual worlds provided an
additional dimension and environment for interacting. The use of
Second Life in Global Innovation Jam 2006 offered its 150,000
participants the unique 3D avatar experience of having a town hall
meeting in Beijing's Forbidden City. This virtual world
was not limited to visualization, but also emphasized the impor-
tance and sense of togetherness.IBM took this virtual world
experience to corral the sense of being together, standing virtually
shoulder to shoulder in the innovation process with other valued
colleagues from around the world. These early stage visualization
techniques gave innovation jam participants' access to a stan-
dardized level of representation of information at a more intuitive
Next, a second series of critical phase changes ensued that
would help transition innovation jams from the tool phase to the
service phase. First, changes how innovation jams were imple-
mented and delivered were altered. The adoption of more extensive
pre and post preparation planning allowed for webcasts, interests
groups, and greater opportunities in connecting IBM employees
and external stakeholders. IBM strategically expanded innovation
jams offering to two separate platforms for large and more focused
groups. The development of a scaled down platform called a Min-
iJam was for a more focused discussion. Second, IBM became
innovation jams a transformational intervention rather than a tool
to be applied periodically. Innovation jams shifted to an integral
part of IBM's global management strategy, and provided a platform
for engagement, where technology and organizational relation-
ships internally and externally intertwined. Finally, the addition of
jam rules and robust real-time data analysis helped facilitate the
transition of innovation jams from an internal management tool to
a service of innovation to its clients, by securing legal boundaries
for large scale collaboration.
11.3. Service phase
The service phase marked a shift in technological integration
and knowledge from a broader range of collaborators. Technolog-
ical advancements within IBM gave way to powerful tools for the
intensication of innovation by integrating advanced IvT into the
innovation jam platform for accelerated decision-making and ac-
tion. External knowledge sources owed from a broader spectrum
of stakeholders, trained facilitators and moderators outside IBM,
academics, subject matter experts, suppliers, customers, governing
bodies, politicians, and legal advisors each playing a role in the
orchestration of innovation jams for greater dialogue. In turn, it
helped delegate roles to an audience of people in search of inno-
vation across this wide network and tapped into the collective
wisdom and knowledge of these valued stakeholders.
By tapping into the external collaborators, IBM pushed the
search for innovation outward and to focus on segments within
their network of innovation jam participants. IBM focused more
attention on the audience it was targeting in order to direct specic
topics and questions to those who may provide answers. Specic
audiences could be targeted for accelerated decision-making and
action with the MiniJam platform. For example, this allowed IBM to
Table 4
Representative patterns in locus of innovation jam evolution.
Attribute Concept Tool Service
Actants &Interests IBM employees, intranet team IBM employees, executives, managers, internal
subject matter experts
IBM employees, trained facilitators, academics,
Denition of Jams New medium to bring people and ideas
Tool to align employees for a common purpose and
structure for large scale discussion
A virtual round table to stimulate ideas, drive
innovation around specic topics and collaborative
Goals of the Phase Capturing and exploration of new medium Generation and evaluation Inuencing complex systems for accelerated
decision making and action
Internal Broad and internal Internal and external with predetermined targeted
Critical Phase
Independent platform needed (scaling),
inclusion of external knowledge and
Event, Pragmatic outlook, not anonymous, 2 part
process of jamming- 1. generate ideas 2 evaluate
Transformational intervention, extensive pre and
post preparation needed
Requirements Intranet Independent Platform Pre and Post Jam events, multiple platforms
N/A Data analysis tools, Robust real-time metrics and reporting, multiple
Methodology Top-down approach, information is pre-
ltered determining what is available
Early stages to building a an egalitarian approach Bottom-up approach supported with parallel forces
from external knowledge
Property Risk
Knowledge shared only with internal
employees and maintained internally
Pre rule agreement needed, maintained internally Pre rule agreement from all parties needed, text
mining software and reporting for risk management
Characteristics Building a sense of community New medium for sharing and rating Non-competitive active discussion, broad
participation and legitimacy, Enabling culture
S. Diasio / European Management Journal 34 (2016) 125e134132
target managerial problems to its management workforce or en-
gineering problems to its globally dispersed engineers.
IvT played a critical role in supporting innovation jams in the
service phase. IvT helped IBM bridge participants' creativity and
insight to the innovation process by using and manipulating data
for visualization and understanding. IvT brought new ways for
participants to organize innovation and in understanding the on-
going dialogue. Real-time analysis allowed the pulse of the
different conversations to be monitored. Advancements in tech-
nology moved from collecting and storing to transforming and
visualizing information in real-time and overtime, making infor-
mation more dynamic than past phases. As information became
more uid as a result of IvT visualization and data analysis tools,
dynamic themes to be followed in real-time- moving the innova-
tion jam service stage into one iterative stage of insight. Topics were
rened through themeclouds that visually represented emerging
trends and frequent words use.
A fourth phase of innovation jams appear to be linked to other
social networking tools and sites to continue the dialogue. Groups
are forming on independent social networking sites that give in-
dividuals an opportunity to continue the dialogue in other virtual
environments beyond the hosted innovation jam event. Connec-
tions that were made within the innovation jam appear to be
spreading across the web, keeping collaborating intact regardless of
geography, businesses, industry and time.
12. Implications and conclusions
Using a longitudinal framework, this study aimed to understand
the relationship between the jamband music genre and innovation
jams as a model for organizing and managing innovation. Jam
bands by nature are interdisciplinary and offer a model appropriate
for the dynamic organizational environment managers work in. By
using the metaphoric approach, comparisons and connections can
be made in a way similar to knowledge ows within open inno-
vation (Chesbrough, 2003, 2011) and are complementary to the
ambidextrous and pluralistic organization of today. The use of
grounded theory in this study was particularly tting, offering new
concepts in relation to a metaphor that addresses important
organizational elements in adopting emerging models of
This study has important implications for managers and inno-
vation researchers. First, it suggests the conventional metaphor for
innovation, which has dominated our way of conceptualizing
models of innovation, limits our understanding of contemporary
and emerging forms of innovation. Contrary to the management
innovation literature (Hatch,1998, 1999; Weick, 1998), which posits
jazz as the standard lens to view and understand organizational
innovation, new developments and technological advancements,
push the boundaries and usefulness of the jazz metaphor to un-
derstand these new practices of innovation. Solving challenging
business and societal problems may be possible, if there is a shift in
language to how we describe and think about innovation. Next, the
research suggests the use of the jamband metaphor may be
constructive in the understanding of new models of innovation,
particularly that relate to the opening of innovation processes
within the open innovation paradigm. This is useful for those
managing innovation when transitioning from a closed model to an
open model of innovation by providing a context in which to guide
organizational change. This has implications for open innovation
researchers and offers opportunities to explore the latent elements
that support or inhibit open innovation practices. This provides a
broader context to examine the three types of open innovation
(inward-outward, outward-in and coupled) in a relatable concept
and phenomenon. The jamband metaphor is offered to understand
these emerging practices.
The data suggests overlapping themes exist between the jam-
band music genre and innovation jams that help us understand this
new model of innovation. Using the jamband metaphor, we
describe the emergent development and use of innovation jams
from a concept, to a management tool and service phase. Three
emergent themes evolved from this study that provides insight into
organizing emerging models of innovation that are evocative of the
jamband music genre. These include: sense of community, collab-
orative feedback and knowledge sharing and expertise integration.
Managers charged with implementing emerging models of inno-
vation may benet by building a sense of community with personal
and tangible commitment-that is authentic and builds shared
values and identities. The sense of community within the jamband
culture created unique environments that allowed individuals to
participate in a shared sense of values and identities regardless of
the size in a communal way. Managers may provide feedback
before, during and after innovation initiatives to bring meaningful
dialogue to the forefront and tapping into passionate people who
want to solve challenging problems. Feedback within the jamband
genre was an ongoing iterative approach of communication the
audience and band had, and provide a dialogue between the two.
Lastly, in effort to support knowledge sharing and expertise inte-
gration, managers and organizations may consider providing an
immersive experience of the innovation process that facilitated
engagement across time, space, and culture. This places an inno-
vation experience beyond simply utilizing IvT (Dodgson et al.,
2006) but, expands how these tools can shape organizational
innovation processes overtime in integrating different sources of
knowledge and expertise through technology. This suggests that
this model of innovation is not separate from the audience and
participants, but instead is part of a broader environment-
technological and social, where participants are facilitators in a
multidirectional immersive experience of innovating. This new
model of innovation may not be something one enacts but is
embedded within others, facilitate through technology, and in an
ongoing reciprocal relationship of giving and sharing in the inno-
vation process.
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While numerous models examine the linkages between improvisation and innovation, the factors that moderate this relationship at the team level are unknown. Consequently, this study builds on principles and insights from the jazz jam session framework used by jazz musicians and regression analysis to examine the nature of the improvisation process and consider how it affects innovation. By using unbalanced panel data on 2,749 teams containing between two and eight employees in the United Kingdom during 2002–2016, this study demonstrates that the success of the improvisation process relies on both internal and external factors conducive to innovation. Subsequently, the conclusions drawn may help entrepreneurs and team managers think differently about the role improvisation plays in the innovation activity. As a result, important practical implications are drawn for team managers and entrepreneurs intending to cultivate a willingness to improvise in teams and nurture collaborative relationships with external partners for innovation.
Full-text available
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Il primo libro di Henry Chesbrough, "Open Innovation," era riuscito a definire un nuovo paradigma per il management del 21 secolo; con "Open Services Innovation, "che appare ora tradotto in italiano, l autore ci spiega come l Innovazione Aperta, associata a una rivalutazione del ruolo dei servizi, puo portare le imprese a scoprire nuove opportunita in un economia sempre piu dominata dal terziario.Chesbrough illustra come le aziende in tanti settori diversi possono differenziarsi e innovare passando da una visione basata sul prodotto a un concetto di business orientato al servizio, e da una mentalita d innovazione chiusa a un approccio aperto a contributi e risorse che arrivano dal mondo esterno. Il libro propone innumerevoli esempi che illustrano teorie e modelli, offrendo una guida molto concretaper l implementazione di idee e strategie. In questa edizione, ai riferimenti americani sono affiancati tanti casi di imprese italiane con cui il lettore sapra facilmente confrontarsi."