Now in its third year, the 2013 General Electric Innovation Barometer, a global survey of the barriers and drivers of innovation, once again reinforces the vital role of partnerships and collaboration to successful innovation. The Partnership Paradox remains too; innovation requires partnerships, many commentators extol their value, leaders and CEO’s desire them but most individuals and organisations struggle to build them. A lack of trust seems a constant reason why these valuable marketing relationships are often so hard to secure yet often so easy to lose.
High value, high risk relationships are not easy – and there is risk and conflict. A good business collaboration needs both commercial savvy and emotional intelligence.
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?
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.
Don’t take my word for it. After a comprehensive global study partnerships and collaborations have just been identified as the most important ingredient to successful marketing and innovation by one of the most powerful marketers on earth – Beth Comstock, CMO of General Electric.