How Innovation Develops Among Individuals in Niche Social Networks

In the current digital arena, social networks have touched the lives of almost every human being on earth, allowing us to share life’s novelties with friends and loved ones. However, social networks are not restricted to sharing and commenting on pictures, but giving rise to innovation among individuals to help make our world a better place.

Social networks in the form of crowdfunding sites allow individuals to give wings to their innovative ideas for a new startup. Many online communities have also been set up to find innovative solutions for existing challenges such as: global warming, energy consumption, agriculture, space science, etc.

What kind of social networks are driving innovation?

  • Online project management tools from tech ventures such as FindNerd provide an android developer forumwhere tech people ideate and resolve queries as quickly as possible
  • Someone with a brilliant, innovative idea for a new mobile or web app can learn app development through social networks

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Collaborative Innovation in Advanced Manufacturing: Just Getting Started

Advanced manufacturers—people who make “things”—face the same challenges in the Digital Age as their counterparts that traffic wholly in bits and bytes. Relentless immediacy. Increased transparency. In this article, the innovation architect Doug Collins reflects on the results from a survey that the analyst firm Frost & Sullivan conducted as part of the Manufacturing Leadership Council. What are the more advanced of the advanced manufacturing thinking these days about the practice of collaborative innovation? Are they on track?

Collaborative Innovation: something for everyone

Broad applicability makes the practice of collaborative innovation powerful. A group in product development starts the practice. Another group—the retail store associates—picks it up to good effect. Human resources takes notice of the uptick in engagement. They come calling.

The people who make things

In this spirit I read with interest the June 2015 issue of the Manufacturing Leadership Journal. Frost & Sullivan sponsors the Manufacturing Leadership Council, which publishes journal every other month. Council members consist of people working at firms engaged in advanced forms of manufacturing (e.g., Cisco, Doosan, Ford, Tata, GlaxoSmithKline, and The Procter & Gamble Company).

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Sound Judgment and Strategic Partnerships

Business alliances remain a tricky thing. On the one hand, alliances allow companies to tap into new markets and growth platforms. At the same time, forming alliances is risky, as it demands trust building and deep knowledge sharing with external parties. This article provides a pathway for successfully managing business alliance formation.

Business alliances remain a tricky thing. On the one hand, alliances allow companies to tap into new markets and growth platforms. At the same time, forming alliances is risky, as it demands trust building and deep knowledge sharing with external parties. In an uncertain business environment, today’s friend may be tomorrow’s enemy.

Nonetheless, the rise of open innovation has led many to believe that collaboration has become a key way of securing future innovation management and creativity —blurring the traditional lines between corporations and institutions within and across sectors. This provides new incentives to turn outwards and form business alliances.

Always consider new alliances carefully, without basing your judgment on past experiences only.

A real skill

The first step is to realize that business alliance formation is a real skill to be built and developed. Alliance building is similar to M&A –mergers and acquisitions. There are a lot of statistics about the rate of success of this type of business development. Most research indicates that M&A activity has an overall success rate of about 50%.

Purpose, people and prenups

Many consultants and business schools stress the importance of diligent post-deal execution of alliance, and integration of acquisitions. This is crucial in cases of very clear cost synergies, however, in cases of entrepreneurial endeavors this can be unnecessary limiting.

Read here about>> Sound Judgment and Strategic Partnerships

Starting an Innovation Program? A Strategic Approach to Create Success

Many innovation leaders tend to be tactically driven, but their corporate leadership is looking for more strategic planning and analysis. This tension often contributes to high turnover in innovation management roles, based on a misalignment around leadership’s expectations. In this article Anthony Ferrier suggests perspectives and actions that should be considered part of your innovation strategy plan.

In the past couple of weeks I have been asked by some significant organizations (one an Asian-based conglomerate and the other a U.S. Federal Agency) how they should start an innovation effort. Though on the surface different, they share similarities in terms of their large, complex structures, a need to create new ideas and a desire to engage their employees.

Too often I come across organizations that think their first step should be to launch a crowdsourced challenge or campaign. While this can make sense in the context of “testing the waters” and quickly generating some visible activity, more value can be driven by a well-developed strategic plan.

In my experience, many innovation leaders tend to be tactically driven, but their corporate leadership is looking for more strategic planning and analysis. This tension often contributes to high turnover in innovation management roles, based on a misalignment around leadership’s expectations.

What perspectives and actions should be considered as part of an innovation strategy plan?

  • Defining success: What is going to be considered great? On the surface it is a simple question, but by asking this of yourself and your stakeholders, you are generating thoughts and concrete goals around an often nebulous topic. In addition, you are demonstrating that you are driving towards a goal that your stakeholders should have a sense of ownership around. If they agree to the goals, there is more pressure on them to support your drive towards them. Agree the goal and work to exceed it at every point.
  • Leadership support: Considering who would be a great sponsor of your effort and the approaches to generating broader leadership support are essential to driving success. Effective leadership support directs resources towards new idea development, gives employees the permission to innovate and provides a communication platform. Keep in mind, you may not get your desired sponsor initially, but put the goal out there and work towards finding the right person over time. Beyond the single sponsor, it is often worth considering how to engage a broader group of leaders (possibly from specific business units) to guide efforts going forward. These committees or councils can be stand-alone efforts, or align with existing groups that are already in place.
  • Ecosystem mapping and integrating: Within large organizations it is rare that a single group or individual controls all innovative activity. As part of this planning process it is important to understand the various innovation activities and actions within the organization (read more on this here). More broadly, beyond that they should build processes and approaches to support continued communication and leverage, with a goal of partnership or integration of efforts.
  • Scale of ideas: Understand the size and scope of ideas that you are looking to generate and assess how you will be able to develop thrm. By first considering the back-end implementation of ideas, you will make more informed decisions about front-end activities. In addition, this perspective needs to include not just what individual ideas will look like, but what makes up an actively managed idea pipeline.
  • Scope of input: Decide which stakeholder groups should have input to innovative activities. Do you want to focus efforts on a small sub-segment of employees, or reach out to a broader range? Is a specific business unit or region important to your success, or not? Do you want to focus on internal resources, or seek input / support by partners externally? Deciding on appropriate stakeholders will help define the type of activities undertaken.
  • Activity planning: There is an infinite variety of activities that organizations can use to generate new ideas, and hopefully get them executed effectively. Including an outline of the various activities that an innovation program may look to launch is essential. It may also help to include an honest assessment of costs, expected impact, stakeholder involvement and plans to improve and scale over time.
  • Resourcing management: Most innovation efforts that I work with, whether in a large or small organizations, have limited resources to support their efforts. Including directions and thoughts around the sourcing and allocation of resources will help frame your planning. It is also worth considering unconventional approaches to securing resources, including supporting employee networks and broader crowdsourcing efforts.
  • Multi-year perspective: With these plans it is important to set out a multi-year approach to innovation development. Generally activities start smaller and build over time, assuming agreed performance targets are being achieved. Beyond year-1 the planning can be kept vague, but this kind of approach emphasizes that this is not a passing initiative or corporate fad.
  • Goals and metrics: I have talked about this in the past, but I can’t emphasize the importance of focusing on the development of specific metrics for any innovative activity.

This is clearly a lot of information, and the resulting document that outlines your plan could be as long as you want it to be. In a previous life as a corporate strategist I found that every time I put together a word document, it was essentially for my own reference (no one would ever read it, despite my best nagging efforts). I do have a great innovation program business plan template in PPT, so feel free to reach out to me directly if you want me to send you a copy (Anthony@culturevate.com).