The risks of siloed projectsConsider how competition can impact innovation at the organisation level. For example, at one point Sony dominated the market for small music player devices, but they lost that lead to Apple. What happened? Sony had thrived with a highly competitive culture for many years. Engineers were encouraged to outdo each other rather than work together on projects. Yet while this had worked well for existing technology and some standalone products they had produced in the past, it was destructive when it came to newer projects requiring collaboration among different divisions. Sony’s version of iTunes, Connect, relied on five Sony divisions in both the US and Japan that typically worked in competing silos . Since the organisation was set up to compete rather than collaborate, the project was soon floundering .
Collaborative innovation in practiceAs an example of how collaborative unity can be achieved, some companies that are usually arch-competitors have decided to band together to develop semiconductor technology . Companies such as TI, Intel, Motorola and AMD have come together in this way after considering the market opportunities. Pharmaceutical companies have also collaborated around aspects of contributed their proprietary R&D work, which is usually a highly competitive space, recognising that this may help in getting a drug to market faster. It has been suggested that the US has more recently floundered in innovation when compared to other countries because there has been a failure to keep a strong focus on the sorts of values that engender collaboration and trust. Finland, on the other hand, has been found to have a high level of collaboration between firms, and it has risen to one of the top five innovating countries in the world according to the results in the latest Global Innovation Index.
How to foster collaborative co-creationCo-creation at any level can be fostered through a number of effective strategies. Consider the following:
Identify core valuesStrong cultural values are the starting point for getting individuals to freely share knowledge and collaborate to generate new, combined ideas in the process of innovation.
Develop authentic trustTrust can be summed up by the following formula: Credibility + integrity + reliability + intimacy = trust. Where these qualities are understood and modelled in the organisation at all levels it is possible to build a culture of trust, which in turn will support collaboration for innovation.
Build confidence to share ideasIt has been found that the most creative teams are those who have the confidence to share and debate ideas openly rather than competing for recognition and holding back ideas for themselves. This comes from authentic trust.
Provide supporting systems and structuresCo-creation won’t just happen – your innovation team needs the right systems and structures need to be put in place to support it.
Open up connectionsTrust needs to be built at all levels, both within the organisation and with external stakeholders – and particularly with clients.
EvaluateCheck if plans are floundering and failing or succeeding and thriving – and constantly retarget as needed. This will help to keep the process on track.
Gaia Grant is the co-author of The Innovation Race: How to change a culture to change the game (Wiley August 2016) along with a number of other international bestselling books and resources. As a Director of Tirian International Consultancy Gaia helps to create innovation cultures for a range of international organisations (from Fortune 500 companies through to NFPs). Gaia is a keynote speaker and an HD researcher and lecturer at Sydney University Business School. For more information see http://the-innovation-race.com.
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Global Innovation Index https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
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