Jumpstarting innovation (and how to leverage collaboration …)

There are two interesting articles/working papers in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge. The first one is “Jumpstarting Innovation: Using Disruption to Your Advantage” by Lynda Applegate:

Mature companies understand that to compete today they need to innovate. But finding sources of innovation while still paying attention to the current business can be a struggle. The good news, says Harvard Business School professor Lynda M. Applegate, is that one of the forces that threatens established companies can also be a source of salvation: disruptive change.


This excerpt from a recent presentation encourages executives to leverage disruptive change as a platform for innovation.

I like this understanding and rationale, here’s the executive summary:

Fostering innovation in a mature company can often seem like a swim upstream—the needs of the existing business often overwhelm attempts to create something new. Harvard Business School professor Lynda M. Applegate shows how one of the forces that threatens established companies can also be a source of salvation: disruptive change.
Plus: Innovation worksheets.
Key concepts include:

* Jumpstarting innovation is a critical business imperative. Executives realize that radical change is needed but do not feel equipped to make such change.
* Disruptions in the business environment allow new entrants or forward-thinking established players to introduce innovations that transform the way companies do business and consumers behave.
* Disruptive changes that might serve as the source of innovation include technology shifts, new business models, industry dynamics, global opportunities, and regulatory changes.

The second article is called “Innovation through Global Collaboration: A New Source of Competitive Advantage” by Alan MacCormack, Theodore Forbath, Peter Brooks, and Patrick Kalaher:

Executive Summary:

Collaboration is becoming a new and important source of competitive advantage. No longer is the creation and pursuit of new ideas the bastion of large, central R&D departments within vertically integrated organizations. Instead, innovations are increasingly brought to the market by networks of firms, selected according to their comparative advantages, and operating in a coordinated manner. This paper reports on a study of the strategies and practices used by firms that achieve greater success in terms of business value in their collaborative innovation efforts. Key concepts include:

* Consider the strategic role of collaboration, organize effectively for collaboration, and make long-term investments to develop collaborative capabilities. Successful firms found that attention to these 3 critical areas generated new options to create value that competitors could not replicate.
* Successful firms went beyond simple wage arbitrage, asking global partners to contribute knowledge and skills to projects, with a focus on improving their top line. They redesigned their organizations to increase the effectiveness of these efforts.
* Managing collaboration the same way a firm handles the outsourcing of production is a flawed approach. Production and innovation are fundamentally different activities and have different objectives.

Yes, networking capabilities gain importance when innovation processes span corporate boundaries, and social software offers opportunities as it provides both flexible and lightweight infrastructure …

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