Category Archives: Collaboration

Cultivating Organizational Creativity in an Age of Complexity – IBM Report

“Why are some organizations consistently good at innovating and adapting while others seem to be blindsided by change? Is it because of their disciplined innovation process or the knowledge and skills of their people? Or is it their determination to build a culture where challenging assumptions is not only encouraged, but expected? The IBM Creative Leadership Study found that leaders who embrace the dynamic tension between creative disruption and operational efficiency can create new models of extraordinary value.”

To gather the data for the IBM Creative Leadership Study, IBM conducted open-ended interviews with 40 leaders from around the world. Five of the participants are acknowledged experts in the area of creativity and innovation, five are senior HR officers from companies of various sizes, and the remaining 30 are creative leaders as defined by their peers.

Individuals in this last group represented a range of business and creative disciplines and were selected without regard to their formal leadership role in the organization. The interviews sought to answer three basic questions:

• What are the key capabilities of a creative organization?

• What are the catalysts of these capabilities in leaders?

• How can these capabilities be scaled across the organization?

To download and read the full report click here

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We Gotta Share!

A bit of fun….

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P&G – Extraordinary Results from Innovation Acceleration

Many of you will know that Procter & Gamble is one of my favourite companies when discussing innovation acceleration. The latest Harvard Business Review (June 2011) contains an extremely important article on the impact that innovation has had on P&G recently. We all know of the Connect and Develop program that was kicked off some years ago, but where is P&G now, and where are their innovation efforts? To be honest, I was unbelievably excited when I read this article, and I think you will be as well.

Here are some of the facts reported by HBR that really impressed me:

From 2004 to now, P&G looked to carry out the following:

a) Teach senior management and project members the mind-sets and behaviours that foster disruptive growth

b) Form a group of new-growth-business guides to help teams working on disruptive projects

c) Develop organisational structures to drive new growth

d) Produce a process manual – a step-by-step guide to creating new-growth businesses.

e) Run demonstration projects to showcase the emerging factory’s work.

The challenge that they found in 2008 was that they were burdened by a number of smaller projects that were not necessarily disruptive. This scenario is very common – the organisation establishes an Innovation program and soon people ask – “So where are the Big Ideas?”. So Bob McDonald (then the COO) and Bruce Brown (then CTO and coauthor of the article in HBR) drove three critical improvements:

a) Increase emphasis on an intermediate category, transformational-sustaining innovations, which would deliver major new benefits in existing product categories

b) Strengthen organisational support for the formation of transformational sustaining and disruptive businesses. P&G created several new business-creation groups whose resources and management are kept separate from the core business – dedicated teams with a separate General Manager. What is really interesting is that there is one group, FutureWorks, solely dedicated to enabling different business models. This to me is tremendous and a lesson for other companies – while “tiger teams” might be formed to boost sales and win deals, it is rare that they are formed specifically for new business models.

c) Revamp its strategy development and review process. Innovation and strategy assessments had historically been handled separately. Now the CEO, CTO, and CFO explicitly link company, business, and innovation strategies. What a great lesson!

Lessons learned include:

  1. Closely coordinate the factory and the core business
  2. Promote a portfolio mindset
  3. Start small and grow carefully
  4. Create new tools for gauging new businesses
  5. Make sure you have the right people doing the right work
  6. Encourage intersections – successful innovation requires rich cross pollination both inside and outside the organisation.

There are other significant lessons learned from the above cited in the article. And many more initiatives that you should read for yourself that are truly remarkable. Here, though, are some of the business impact metrics cited:

  • In 2000 only 15% of its innovation efforts met profit and revenue targets. Today the figure is 50%. The past fiscal year was one of the most productive innovation years in the companyʼs history, and the companyʼs three- and five-year innovation portfolios are sufficient to deliver against their growth objectives. Projections suggest that the typical initiative in 2014 and 2015 will have nearly twice the revenue of todayʼs initiatives. Thatʼs a sixfold increase in output without any significant increase in inputs.
  • In 2009 P&G introduced the wrinkle-reducing cream Olay Pro-X. Launching a $40-a-bottle product in the depths of a recession might seem a questionable strategy. But P&G went ahead because it considered the product a transformational sustaining innovation. The cream and related products generated first-year sales of $50 million in U.S. food retailers and drugstores alone.
  • In 2010 P&G refreshed its C+D goals. It aims to become the partner of choice for innovation collaboration, and to triple C+Dʼs contribution to P&Gʼs innovation development (which would mean deriving $3 billion of the companyʼs annual sales growth from outside innovators). It has expanded the program to forge additional connections with government labs, universities, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, consortia, and venture capital firms.
The HBR article can be found here. I seriously urge you to read it, digest it, look at what your organisation is NOT doing, and gather senior leaders of your organisation together in a war room to form an action plan to close the gap. NOW!.

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Taking on-line Shopping to a new level of Interaction and Personalisation

Have you seen what the telecommunications company 3 is doing with user interaction? Their 3LiveShop offering is a great example of product innovation to deliver an innovative service. Through the new user-experience portal, they are taking the real and the virtual and blending them into an integrated experience.

I feel strongly that today’s on-line purchasing experience will morph in the next few years into this sort of blended approach. The reality is that all of us like face-to-face interaction. While it is true that Telepresence and similar systems give the potential of high-definiteion interaction, applying this interaction in a meaningful experience such as choosing a mobile phone, shopping, or having a product demonstrated makes it very very real. And useful. And time saving. And customer centric.

Watch the video:

3 from B-Reel & B-Reel Films on Vimeo.

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The Rise of Generation C: Implications for Innovation Acceleration

Excellent report by Booze&co. on what they call Generation C: People born after 1990, digital natives, highly connected, living online, using social networking as second nature, being able to consume vast amounts of information, and living in what Booze calls a “personal cloud”. The premise is that by 2020 an entire generation will have grown up in a primarily digital word, with technology as we know it today just part of their life, rather than an add-on. Booze says the C in Generation C stands for Connect, Communicate and Change.

You can read the full article here.

What are the implications for innovation acceleration if this is the case? If you endorse the premise – as I strongly do – that innovation is powered by collaboration and connectedness – that innovation acceleration happens just by the fact that people are connected in an ecosystem, then we are in for a meteoric rise is the innovation capability of Generation C. Do you agree?

And if this is the case, what structures, if any, do we need to put in place to capture and harness this creativity? Can the corporation as we know it cultivate and environment where all of this innovation potential is harnessed and exploited?

The answer is – not today. Next year? or 2020?

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Collaboration – We are not even close!

Everyone wants to be more connected and more collaborative. So – do we collaborate? Really collaborate? The power of the Internet allows friends to connect over Facebook, business colleagues to remain in touch over LinkedIn, and email, voice and video provides for richer connectedness. That’s true. Indeed, organisations like Cisco have developed sophisticated voice and video communication tools to allow people to connect in more meaningful and lifelike ways, wherever they are.

But my hypothesis is that we are still very far from understanding how to deeply and meaningfully collaborate. Very, very far. We say we are collaborative when we sit on a bunch of conference calls, or try and use an enterprise blog or Wiki (until we give up and go back to email) but that’s not collaborating.That’s just connecting.

True collaboration should involve:

  • Shared data stores with defined and agreed IP management rules. I should be able to safely and securely access information from any of my colleagues in select groups (within and outside of my organisation) with ease. Firewalls and passwords are transparent to me. Boundaries are there, but invisible. Today, this is almost impossible.
  • An etiquette for collaboration. When I post something in a colleague’s data ecosystem, there is an etiquette for collaboration that will give me confidence in when to expect a reply and in what form. Today, no such etiquette exists.
  • Almost immediate construction, and decomposition, of collaborative teams. If we decide to form a collaborative group today, with the press of a button I should be able to construct the teams, the data stores, the IM channels, and the IP protocols. Today this is an incremental process that usually breaks down half way through, and people revert to email.
  • Collaborative histories that can be easily and intuitively browsed. Who said what to whom, where, and when?
  • Collaborative document management and construction. We should be able to build plans, documents and presentations truly collaboratively. Ever tried to build a PowerPoint deck as a group of 10? Almost impossible to do this in a truly collaborative manner.

And that’s just the start of the list!

Email is an archaic, point-to-point, hub and spoke outdates communication tool. It inhibits collaboration. The problem is, we really don’t have anything much better.

Mind you, tools are not the place to start. We need to define truly collaborative business models that we agree to. Once defined, the tool set will be easy.

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Good ideas – do you know where they come from?

Here is a fun video from Steven Johnson that describes how the web can aid collaboration which will in turn improve ideas. I really like this.

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