By Penelope Patsuris
September 17, 2009

By Julie Schlosser

Google’s (GOOG) Megan Smith, Vice President of New Business Development, offered up a fresh approach to cost cutting during the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit.  It’s sort of a twofer — improve the bottom line by bringing employees into the conversation.

“Patrick Pichette [Google’s CFO] said we needed to save a half billion dollars,” Smith said. It was shortly after the crisis — the economy was cratering and the company needed to reduce spending. Pichette wanted general cost-cutting ideas from across the company, so he posted the request on Google Moderator, the company’s collaboration tool.

“It’s a form of crowdsourcing,” said Smith, who now oversees Google.org. “It’s a simple tool. You put suggestions in and people can vote. It allows the good ideas to rise up.” Not surprisingly, Googlers responded. “We got hundreds of millions [of dollars worth] of actionable ideas,” added Smith.

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