Cap Gemini recently reported that over 80% of CEO’s they surveyed identified idea sharing as the single most important element of innovation – and yet only 16% said they had the right culture to do it. And General Electric’s (GE) survey of top global marketers revealed that whilst 86% of them agreed that partnerships were the most important element of innovation – only 21% were able to build them. We call this ‘The Collaborative Paradox’: there is an increasing demand for innovation, which is driven by smarter relationships – but due to a lack of internal and external collaboration skills, there is often a failure to innovate.
Jonathan Haidt’s latest work The Righteous Mind is a serious piece of heavy reading in every way. The hardback thumped into my briefcase at a sturdy 702 grams. And its 321 pages of erudite thinking is backed up by a further 51 pages of notes plus 17 pages of detailed index. Its sections and sub-headings are seriously crisp and the arguments are summarised and presented as ‘Exhibits’ – to give the book the kind of gravitas that would suit a judge’s chambers. And to be fair, the subject matter and the quality of the work suits it.
It is March 2012 and I am in London listening to Susan Cain, who is a phenomenon in the world of current ideas. How influential is she? Well, in the one second it has taken you to read that sentence approximately thirty-two people have viewed her standout talk at TED. And a further 451 have viewed it on YouTube – in the last hour. Her book ‘Quiet’ – ‘The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking’ – sits in the New York Times Top Five – and her piece in the New York Times attracted an astonishing 241 comments alone.
We’ve had a long love affair with seeing our problems mirrored in triumphs & lives of exceptional people and high achievers. We love their biographies and hearing the secrets of great sports and military leaders. If only we could be respected like Nelson. If ony we could be as challenging as Richard Branson or as driven as Steve Jobs. If only we could manage like Mourinho – or bend it like Beckham. And – this love affair with heroes and leaders has its dangers. There is a danger of cliché and homilies – of group think and the leadership cult. But…
Cynthia McIntryre has just published a great piece in HBR explaining why and how SME’s & corporates need to collaborate. If they want to prosper – SME’s need to form smart relationships with powerful players – and get access to their resources and experience. And likewise, if corporates really want to innovate, its been proven that they need to add the energy, ideas and freshness of SME’s to their mix. Its partner – or perish. So, why do some people still – not get it?
It is a commonly accepted truth that there are only really two kinds of problems: you either have a process problem or a people problem. And, as a senior lawyer told me recently – even the process problems really boil down to people problems. As a practitioner and evangelist for collaboration, co-operation and partnerships for over 20 years I have seen how the success or failure of initiatives mostly comes down to how well we large apes can understand, communicate, solve problems – and work together.
When surveyed 80% of top executives agree their organisations need to innovate differently and 86% say that partnerships and collaboration is the key to innovation. Yet – only 21% say they are developing them. In their latest 2012 Innovation Monitor, General Electric call this – The Partnership Paradox. So why does it exist? And what can we do to change it?
I am not a fan of brainstorming. But I am a fan of purposeful collaboration. And to some this may appear a contradiction. In an excellent article in a recent New York Times, Susan Cain explores the dangers of groupthink and the horrors of noisy, distracted offices. She points out that true genius needs solitude and time to think. Perhaps academia and ideas do. But innovation does not. As Matt Ridley pointed out, ‘ideas have sex’ – and economic and business history is littered with examples of pioneering that was only achieved by the accidental mixing, the casual alliance or the perfect partnership – at just the right time.
How do you balance an entrepreneurial optimism versus unrestrained recklessness? And how do you stop your innovation and marketing activities being more reliant on ‘ hope’ – than reality? An excellent recent lecture at The Royal Society of Arts and Commerce (The RSA) – by neuroscientist and author Tali Sharot – whose latest work is ‘The Optimism Bias – Why We Are Wired To Look On The Bright side‘ – highlighted the intriguing tendency for more than 80% of us to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.
Joe DePaola from the BizShifts Trends blog has published a great piece on collaboration. See – http://bizshifts-trends.com/
“Global companies that collaborate better, perform better. Those that collaborate less, do not perform as well. It’s just that simple.” ~ Jaclyn Kostner.
So true – and this excellent post goes on to outline some great research pieces including Colin Brown’s ‘Six Degrees of Collaboration, which contains an excellent quote;
” While business was once all about keeping one step ahead of your rivals, in today’s socially networked society, working together can lead to greater success. Steering the enlightened path is a new C-word that has emerged as the way forward for business: Collaboration. In today’s hyper-socialized economy, it’s not who you know that really counts, but who you don’t. The priority for many CEOs today is to break down the barriers that stand between them and their employees, their customers, their partners, their vendors – even their rivals. National boundaries are being bridged, corporate walls breached, expertise shared. Google’s Eric Schmidt’s prevailing mantra is ‘collaborate or perish’.
To see the full piece from Joe please see