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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On Optimism, Innovation – And Hope.

We are biased towards a positive view of the future and predictions of outcomes need to be tested. But, interestingly, on the balance of things, the benefits of optimism bias out weigh the possible negative ones.

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.

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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 –

“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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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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More Myths Of Innovation

I’ve just read Scott Berkun’sMyths of Innovation‘ and Tom Kelley‘s ‘Ten Faces of Innovation’ (both excellent books) – and a recent article by psychologist Art Markman also now helps to support their view – that our obsession with individual heroic endeavor and discovery can often hinder true progress. The cultural myth of lone genius, tortured artist and brilliant technician who solves the worlds problems is still alive and well.

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Chance Favours The Connected Mind: TED Video, Steven Johnson

Steven Johnson presents at TED 2010 on his great book; ‘Where Do Good Ideas Come From’

Those who have not had time to read Steven Johnson’s great book ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’ can catch his TED presentation from 2010 below. If you don’t know his work, Johnson explored how the most creative business and societal ideas evolved and the environments that best stimulate them. For marketers, who continually stress the importance of innovating this is worth a moment. A key finding is that ‘coffee house’ style collaboration, connection, relationship building  (i.e. partnerships) – and using existing resources is key to good ideas. As Johnson says ‘Chance favours the connected mind’ and connecting those ideas is more important than protecting them.

Technology & Innovation – As Adaptation

Kevin Kelly has written a great piece summarising his theory of how technology progresses and changes through an almost Darwinesque like process of evolution – as one piece of innovation leads to another, and another. Unlike biology, in technology this adaptation and change process is measured in months and quarters – rather than millions of years.  He points out that great ideas and steps forward build on others – not in isolation. Mozart needed the piano, Van Gough needed the invention of oil based paints. Kelly calls this network of technology and ideas – The Technium.

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Nokia’s Real Problem: It Is In The Commodity Trap

This is a very interesting piece by Henry Chesbrough that explains the dilema that technology marketers have created by being caught up in the endless loop of ‘innovation’ – which for many means continuous product development cycles, rather than thinking about their models – leading them to being increasingly commodified. I have always felt that the most interesting aspect of Apple was not the iPod and iPhone themselves (brilliant though they may be) – but the fact they built a vibrant new model for selling music and then apps. My view of course, as shown by the General Electric Innovation report from January this year – is that genuine innovation comes not from internal product refinement, but from collaborating with partners. In the meantime  – enjoy this great piece by Chesbrough. via Nokia’s Real Problem: The Commodity Trap [Blog].

86% of Top Marketers Say Partnerships Are The Key To Innovation

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.

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