For business, collaboration has been an attractive mistress, full of allure and promise, but always just out of reach – never delivering on the early promise shown.
For Collaboration, Business is the bad boy with a leather jacket on a Harley – knowing that great things could be achieved if only business wasn’t so selfishly focused on personal profit.
Although the above is probably not the best analogy I’ve ever come up with, it holds more than a nugget of truth in it. After all, businesses have been toying with collaborative processes and technologies for quite some time now. Globalization and the pervasiveness of web 2.0 tools have accelerated this interest further for most companies – and yet, rarely is this interest rewarded by real rewards.
Nowhere in the increasingly socialized business of today is this more evident than in Corporate Innovation programs – the other newfound darling of recent years. By combing the two, companies finally found a method by which to use the global knowledge base at its disposal to drive real corporate value in the form of improved product pipelines, powerful value chain partnerships, new business models, and other forms of competitive advantage – the lifeblood of any lasting corporate entity.
However – there’s a snag to this wonderful idealist concept. It turns out there’s more to Collaboration than buying a tool, or putting a smart manager in charge of the initiative. It turns out that Collaboration, like any other process that relies on human interaction to succeed, is complicated. It turns out, that Collaboration is simply not a cheap date – needing to be wined and dined, wooed, and convinced that Business is a truly a worthy mate, before deciding to intertwine her power with his… (to carry on my analogy a step or two too far probably..)
But just how does Business do that wooing? In other words, as business people – what are the ways in which we, can mobilize the global knowledge base to help us in our endeavor to drive corporate value?
This is the question we’re aiming to answer on this week’s #SMCHAT on Wednesday – part one of a two part intertwining of powers with #INNOCHAT that follows up on Thusday. As an “expert” on the discipline/art of Collaborative Innovation, I’ve been given the task of moderating both discussions this week.
As experts in the Social Media arena, contributors to #smchat are perfectly positioned to tackle the social implications of this collaborative conundrum. So here’s the list of themes I’ll be driving people along to – feel free to comment on them, or add further questions and areas for the group to tackle:
1) We can Build it, but will they come? – There are two main problems that come up right at the beginning of any collaborative process – and innovation is no different: Who do we want to ask for help? And how do we ensure they agree to show up?
2) Let’s look at the Tools: Assuming we know who to ask – what are the success criteria for a good collaborative innovation tool?
3) Why should I? : Innovation is unique amongst collaborative initiatives in being most able to show a direct line between input, and valuable output. After all, the result of innovation initiatives is the creation of new value for a corporate entity – so why should audiences participate? There are some obvious benefits for employees to take part, but what about people external to the organization? Companies have tried a variety of different incentive programs from outright cash rewards, to tangential rewards (e.g. gift vouchers), to virtual achievement badges, to absolutely nothing. Is there a one-size fits all? Is it realistic to expect altruistic contribution from people with nothing to gain? And if you decide to give rewards – how much is appropriate?
4) How much is enough? : Just how much collaboration is enough? Can you ever over-collaborate on an idea? Is collaborating on an idea different to than collaborating on a more mature concept? Are there differing levels of collaboration required at different points in time?
As you can see, there’s rather a lot to cover in the 90 minutes allocated to this topic -and I’ll be aiming to get through as much as possible. If you’re unable to take part in the synchronized chat, please take advantage of the various tools available to download a transcript (I use the built in service on (http://www.wthashtag.com/smchat usually) and then continue on the conversation with the other participants throughout the week!
Then, for the other side of the coin – don’t forget that #INNOCHAT tackles Innovation in a Collaborative World” on Jan 28 at 12PM EST. See you all there!