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
In Dudley Moore’s classic 1990 movie ‘Crazy People’ the lead character, an ad-executive called Emory Leeson, hits on a novel idea for his new series of advertising campaigns: just tell the truth and stop the schmaltz and corny ads. His line for Volvo? ” They’re Boxy – But They’re Good”. And an on-message line to help promote the Greek tourism industry? “The French Can Be Annoying: Come to Greece – We’re Nicer”. Well, they do say all comedy is truth. And of course, with the natural hyperbole so common in advertising Dudley Moore highlights perhaps an inconvenient truth – that advertising is mostly not honest. But does that make it a bad thing?
There have been some heated debates across the innovation forums and sites over the past few months concerning the role of talented people in the innovation process. ( see this post by HBR’s Art Markman for example). Is innovation about just getting the smartest people, the greatest brains, the most dynamic individuals and waiting for their ‘eureka’ moment? Or is it about being smarter with the talent you have, creating a culture that challenges how things are done and finding systematic gaps in the market? Or – is it about something else altogether?
Over 13 years – a Cambridge University PHd named Michael Lynch took his research into the mysterious world of ‘pattern based computing’ – added a £2000 chance investment he obtained from a bloke he met in a pub – and turned this into into an international technology giant that last month was purchased by Hewlett-Packard – for something in the region of $10.2 Billion. His story shares a lot of similarities with Mark Zuckerberg – the founder of FaceBook. And as he built up what would become Autonomy Corporation, Lynch agrees that there were indeed lots of late night coding marathons fuelled by chinese takeaways. However, unlike the movie ‘The Social Network’ – his ‘group of British nerds’ were never ever surrounded by beautiful women…
In ‘As You Like It’, William Shakespeare described the world as a stage, upon which we as actors, will change the parts we play. In the world of marketing relationships its important to know who you are, the role you play – and where others fit into your world. There are different dynamics at play in different levels of business relationships –
Sometimes a technology changes everything, not just within their own industry – but within those that connect to it. The trend becomes the ‘adjacent other’ – something from a different industry, area or market that impacts and changes yours. These changes, could open up new opportunities for you or they can be the springboard that your competitors were waiting for. Steam ships begat refrigeration, jet airplanes led the modern charter flight and tourism industry and famously microwave ovens – created a whole new way for blokes to prepare a curry, at half time during the match. Some marketers got up to speed, some missed it.
Brands and businesses do not really have relationships between each other. A laser printer does not set up meeting with the coffee machine and the old laptop case to have a chat about the relative costs of A4 paper. A delivery van does not have a workshop with a fork-lift truck to clarify a key delivery schedule. It is people – and the conversation between them that drives business activity, ideas and progress. Businesses have a legal status, missions, KPI’s, logs, processes and systems. But it is large complex, sometimes emotional, and often stressed ape like creatures such as you and me that do the talking and the listening. No matter what you do, or who you work for, if you’re in the business of marketing & innovation – you are in the conversation business.