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Collaborate to Innovate

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on February 10, 2010

Like "innovation," "collaboration" is an overused word. Yet collaboration and sustainable innovation are critical to a company’s business success. According to a 2008 report from IBM, approximately 75% of CEOs cited collaboration as important to their innovation efforts, but a little more than half said they practice collaboration to a large extent—leaving significant room for increased collaboration in the future.

Collaboration does foster innovation. Imagine a multinational company with hundreds of researchers, scientists, and partners who are geographically dispersed, speaking in different languages and working on various innovation initiatives. Often they may be working in silos, not utilizing internal and external expertise.

So, how do you build a collaborative innovation culture?

1. Encourage people to ask questions and get better insight into a problem. Look beyond your team members for answers so you can build on existing ideas. Look at issues from a different perspective and accelerate ideation to product creation.

2. Use technology that effectively connects engineers and scientists in various parts of the world and gives visibility to an individual’s thinking process in real time.

3. Leverage innovation software with integrated collaboration technology so it can identify experts, mine knowledge, and deliver concepts from other industries to solve problems or design new products.

4. Hire people who are not afraid to challenge your ideas and offer new solutions. Avoid "yes" personalities and tolerate temporary disharmony to get better results.

5. Create a structured innovation process that can also harness baby boomers’ expertise before they walk out the door. After all, innovation intelligence is key to driving collaboration and sustainable innovation.

6. Celebrate success. You’ve earned it.

Mark Atkins
CEO and chairman
Invention Machine

Reader Comments


February 12, 2010 8:56 AM

I'm glad to see that companies are finally beginning to understand that "individuals" have ideas too. Some gifted people think differently than the "team."
Business Week indicates that some businesses are taking the first steps to restore human rights to the workplace.

Perhaps in a few generations they will be forgiven for all the damage they have done to people.
What I would like to see next is for business to understand that its ok for bright people to not like computers, smart phones and widgets.

Munish K Gupta

February 19, 2010 4:42 AM

The bridge between the disconnected silo's in an enterprise have finally been bridged. enables enterprises when they need to collaborate to innovate, with global pool of talent, customers, research vendors, academia or with the employees.

Gourab Nanda

March 3, 2010 8:42 AM

Very true. Small businesses constantly struggle to competently manage service vendors, partners, employees, and customers - spread all across the globe. With efficient collaboration and virtual centralization of all activities businesses can increase productivity and make communication more effective.

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