The core benefits of rapid collaboration have become clear over the years to accelerate corporation’s innovation efforts!
Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook (AGAF) have all invested heavily in innovation ecosystems as part of their business model to dominate their markets. This has created a ripple effect, as organisations are starting to be measured on their ability to create and cultivate platforms whether different players can share their resources to foster innovation.
If you are a corporate leader reading this article, I do not expect you to create an ecosystem on the scale of some of the most innovative companies mentioned above. AGAF have the resources, assets, and technology to invest in making collaboration platforms happen to a great effect.
When it comes to collaboration efforts organisations often have a very strong what and why built around their strategy but sometimes fails to capture the HOW part that is vital to delivering value in this age. This is where the need for a clear strategy around innovation ecosystems comes in to play.
To remove any complexity from the term Innovation Eco-system. An HBR article defines Innovation ecosystem as a platform or network that brings together companies, experienced business leaders, faculty researchers, government officials, established technology companies, and investors together accelerate innovation.
Creating a lasting impact
No matter what industry you are in. The fact is, No one organisation has all the resources they need to innovate alone!
Many organisations fail to understand the competitive benefits of leveraging external stakeholders that are apart of their current ecosystem. This means that these same organisations only see half the opportunity and the bigger picture by not tapping into a wide sea of partners and resources.
And if you only see half the opportunities. You’re only going to see half of your potential!
Organisations who thrive are those that cannot just accept but embrace innovation ecosystems. This involves how an organisation cannot just build but manage their network of partners and players within their industry.
Managing these relationships within your industry or market can sometimes become the final piece to developing the next new thing that makes a big impact. Many of the most successful organisations and business models have an innovation ecosystem around them. From Financial institutions like Barclays launching incubators & accelerators, Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference, Facebook opening up technologies for Chatbot developers and let’s not forget Amazon.
“Networks are a thing of beauty when they work” — Mike Maples, Venture Capitalist
Innovation ecosystems that work continuously and dynamically with a range of external partners may be part of the answer, but how do you successfully build and manage these networks?
Relationships before one-off partnerships
We are moving away from an environment of centralised control, and one sided winners when partnering. It has been a well-known fact that not all the smartest people work for the same organisation. However, large organisations are now finding it harder to attract the right people from outside the organisation to work with.
Image from Bradford Labs
Now, these same organisations that value collaboration needs to find new ways to create an environment that is organic. As well as nurture the innovators that might not have all the answers today but in the long term, the relationship will pay dividends.
Many organisations misunderstand the use of a connected eco-system. With the addition of open office, multiple slack channels and beer in the office, does not mean you have a more collaborative environment.
“Collaboration is a state of mind” — Robert Cialdini, social psychologist and author of influence & Pre-suasion
Real innovation ecosystems goes beyond just understanding how a partner operates. But it comes down to many larger organisations failing to understand what they need to do when engaging with startups, customers or other institutions. This is where the building and managing the right eco-system becomes key.
Theory into Practice: How best to manage your eco-system?
By managing and cultivating the right innovation ecosystem, this can present numerous benefits to the network of partners that includes creating a platform for openness, transparency, and access to IP.
When organisations understand how to map out their industry eco-systems they understand how to develop and leverage resources that would normally take much longer to find using traditional innovation partnerships or open innovation methods.
“No company exists in a vacuum. All organisations are surrounded by an ecosystem.” — Al Ramadan, Author and advisor at Play Bigger
There is a better way to create radical results, while building long term relationships with diverse players with complementary skills, knowledge, and assets to thrive in an uncertain time.
The underlining debate is what is the best way to explore innovation eco-systems that are right for your organisation?
1. Do you have the right to play — What are your key resources or underused resources that you are willing to give away for free to create a new business opportunity.
2. Connecting the right player — Any great organisation understands that they have gaps internally that are hard to fill. What players would be ideal for these challenges.
3. Experiment and play around with the idea — Is there a way to the test idea to see if whether these a sustainable advantage and the idea is commercially viable.
4. Scale innovation — once both partners are happy with a viable business model that benefits both sides. They can scale the idea that brings value creation to the market.
By creating an active eco-system of players that can develop new ideas with the potential to partner in the future. This platform to create new value and categories can open up possibilities that in the past was thought impossible without the right partner.
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