Notes from the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) Summit

No, I haven’t been to Providence (RI) but I have followed the numerous writeups available on the BIF blog and at other places (like e.g. mindmaps by Jeff de Cagna: Day 1 and Day 2, numerous other blogs like here and here).

The conference would have been fun for sure, given its topic of “collaborative innovation” but what gives … some interesting pointers:

Serendipity: A Critical Innovation Success Factor
, a writeup by Erica Driver, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, where she touches on an interesting subject and rationale for enterprise knowledge management and collaboration initiatives:

The question I see many information and knowledge management professionals wrestling with – and trying to address with collaboration and knowledge management strategies and collaboration tools like social networking, expertise location, and virtual worlds: How can you increase the odds of chance encounters being the next encounter being a good one and leading to fantastic innovation? Or, on a bigger scale, how can you create a company culture where the workforce experiences more occurrences of happy accidents? This very question should be at the heart of many organizations’ enterprise collaboration strategies.

And this one on one critical success factor for business model innovation:

[…] Irving Wladawsky-Berger really hit a nerve at BIF-3 when he questioned whether any company can reinvent itself without having a near death experience

[…] There’s a reason why business model innovation is an entrepreneur’s game: more than process, innovation is a state of mind.

[…] Established companies are actually rather good at embracing change if it sustains their current business model and delivers an improved product for their customers. […] Companies must invest to create the new growth business while the core business is still growing, because new business units don’t need to get big fast (here)

And last but not least, Euan Semple shared his experiences with bringing new tools and practices (me too: frogpond) into a large organisation, the BBC, some nice quotes (collected from here):

[…] Asking questions is often a problem, admitting you do not know things can be an issue.

Add on to that the feeling that managers feel they are in charge, in control, these tools were a challenge.

[…] at home there’s all this stuff that people are doing and then they come to work and get told what to do

Erica Driver has more notes from Euans talk, headlines only:

Enterprise Web 2.0 can be the catalyst for a more collaborative business environment.
Experiment — start small — and make sure ownership is clear.
Trust breeds trust.
Go where you’re not quite comfortable going.

And finally there’s this great quote from Euan himself:

Innovation is disruptive by its very nature as it means doing things differently. For many in organizations doing things differently means at the very least accepting change and often having to accommodate an entirely new world view. They don’t tend to do this without a fight.

This leads to the instinct in organizations to sanitize innovation – to set up committees or dedicated innovation departments. The trouble is that in doing so they risk removing the personal nature of the desire to innovate and disperse the passion that gives it the energy to happen.

Update: Irving Wladawasky-Berger shares some of his thoughts on the near-death-necessity for real innovation aka organizational brain cleansing

  1. Martin, your gleanings from the BIF-3 blogstorm hit one of the fundamental themes of the conference spot on…that innovation springs from intimacy, from shared knowledge and trust of bright people in close proximity. We’ve designed intimacy out of our big organizations because it is “unpredictable”, and attempted to replace it with process. But if talent is the lifeblood, process has become the proverbial “plaque in the arteries” !

  2. Allan, yes – sometimes it’s just like that – process management stifling innovation – by trying to formalize, rationalize and systematize.

    Remember there was this discussion lately on the value of 6-Sigma and business model innovation, triggered by an article in Business Week on 3M?

  3. […] real innovation (aka organizational brain cleansing),which I’ve mentioned here before (”Notes from the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) Summit“). tagged with businessmodel, change, disruptive, innovation, […]