What is the role of collaboration in driving innovation?

Image1While talking to organisations about their innovation eco-systems (see previous blogs for details), we have made some interesting observations about the nature and challenges of collaborative innovation.

When Henry Chesborough investigated the success and failure of ideas at Xerox Park to become new technologies and services that delivered new value, he noted that those ideas that were successful within Xerox were those that fitted Xerox’s current business and innovation model. In other words, potentially up to 70% of ideas cannot be turned into value because the organization may be trapped in dead models of innovation. Who can afford this level of waste due to inflexibility and lack of innovation agility?

Collaboration is essential for building a culture within which innovation can be truly agile, and adaptive can-do behaviour is the norm. Effective collaboration depends on shared understanding of the current innovation eco-system that the business has designed to deliver new value.

Agile innovation leadership creates and leads the shared environment of the innovation eco-system, and collaborative behaviours and technologies accelerate the essential transactions within it.  This ensures the accuracy, timeliness, and absence of redundancy of the transactions by adapting the current approach in real time. This attention to the processes and links between them ensures that ideas can flow easily through the eco-system with no hold-ups.

In studying these linkages between innovation, collaboration and business models, we have started to think about this collaborative layer of interaction as the “dark matter” that glues the innovation environment together and makes it run smoothly and fast.  This is because frequently we find collaborative transactions are not explicit or visible in the innovation process, and this is a major risk to the seamless progress of ideas.  One of our primary objectives in business is to build and maintain innovation velocity – that is the rate at which an organisation develops new value, and it is precisely this that makes effective collaboration so critical to the innovation process.

So how do we ensure that the innovation eco-system delivers the agility that will maximise the number of innovations passing through it?  This is clearly the role of the Agile Innovation leader.  They must:

  • Oil the wheels of the innovation eco-system by ensuring the collaborative behaviours needed to keep ideas flowing are healthy, complete and effective
  • Shine a light on the “dark matter” to make it visible and explicitly part of the process so it can be managed.
  • Prepare the organization to be flexible and adaptive in their business model designs to minimise the waste of ideas.
  • Remember at the end of the day, it’s not about technology, it’s about people talking to each other that will make things happen

Attend one of our workshops to explore this further.   www.innovoflow.co.uk

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