They say variety is “the spice of life” – but in our working lives, it’s the spice, ingredients and a good portion of the kitchen equipment too. In striving to build comprehensive and sustainable enterprise innovation programs however, too often I see companies then ignoring the need for diversity – both in the reach and composition of their programmes. We are long past the days where a company’s growth can be sustained with innovation from a few solitary individuals in a lab or conference room. Innovation nowadays needs to be a singular mindset across the entire company – with executives not just asking, but instead requiring collaborative input from across the organisation as they look to solve the strategic and tactical problems that stand in the way of progress.
SMEs have sustainability on their radar. Their main goal is economic sustainability. To achieve this goal, they can take ecological and social sustainability as an opportunity for innovation instead of just considering it as a mere cost driver. Thus innovation and sustainability become the two sides of the coin called profitable growth.
There is a saying, “horses for courses”. It means that certain character types (horses or people - or others) perform in different ways depending upon the circumstances. This holds true in collaborative engagements, whether they are crowdsourcing exercises, virtual focus groups, online research communities or a growing number of other online activities. A key success factor that we found over the last number of years -- and perhaps the key success factor-- is understanding what the best stimulative environment is for that activity, and your participants.
One of the things that's becoming abundantly clear from reading Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs is that a key to the company's innovation wasn't just Jobs' prodigious talent and relentless drive for creating "insanely great" products. There was also another element that I haven't seen anyone talking about as they eulogize this technology giant.