A Noisy Problem With Susan Cain’s Quietness

It’s a lack of empathy, a lack of trust, a lack of collaborative skills – and a lack of leadership and communication skills are, in my experience, far bigger issues – than a lack of introversion.

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.

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Partnerships Big & The Small: Some Just Don’t Get It

We’re as strong as our network. And when small nimble players can appear and disrupt even the most powerful of industries – it is dangerous to be playing alone,

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?

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In Search of Empathy

In a world where its the quality of your personal business relationships that give you a collaborative advantage – empathy may be smartest thing to invest in.

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.

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The Partnership Paradox: On GE’s 2012 Innovation Monitor

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?

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Collaboration Is Not The Same As Brainstorming –

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.

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Collaboration –The Key Driver for Success in Business

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

“Collaboration” –The Key Driver for Success in Business, Globally: Diversity of Ideas, Strength in Unity, Power of Innovation, Leveraging Shared Business Model….

Has Britain’s Innovation Got Talent?

Innovation and business advantage is about getting the most out of the best people.

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?

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The Parts We Play: Building Trust, Collaboration & Partnerships

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 –

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Are You In The Conversation Business?

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.

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Matt Ridley: On The Exchange Of Ideas..

Matt Ridley is one of the world’s great science journalists and the ex-Science editor for The Economist. A common theme in his work  – is the story of how collaboration and the exchange of ideas is the vital ingredient that powers great invention, trade, social change – and (and this is the important lesson for marketers) – commercial  innovation. In the TED video below, Ridley explains the importance of specialism and working together.  It’s an uplifting, fun and positive presentation – with a valuable message. This is something he explores in his excellent book – The Rational Optimist. Ridley points out that businesses manage a whole ecosystem of specialist suppliers, experts and increasingly, in our hyper connected super fast world, accessing those most valuable of raw business materials: knowledge and ideas. Nobody can do it alone.  At Benchstone we believe in the vital importance of critical third party collaborations that need be driven by relationship managers with attention to Fit, Planning – and Momentum. For more information on how effective partnership management and smarter collaboration strategies can sharpen your marketing approach visit Benchstone Marketing