Posts tagged ‘innovation’

May 23, 2008

Natural units of collaboration…

I came across an interesting discussion on another blog about the natural units of collaboration.  There were some posts on “ideas” being a natural unit.   And I’m not sure ideas are a natural “unit” of collaboration. Ideas can lead to collaboration or can simply be the focus of a collaborative event or project(ideation, sharing and commenting on ideas, innovation, etc..).  Ideas, in effect, are simply a form of the broader theme of “content”.  

So content (be it ideas, files, discussions, blogs, Q&A, wikis, etc..) is really the first natural unit of collaboration. 

Second, people are a natural unit.  Collaboration being the interaction between 2 or more people. 

A third natural unit of collaboration is the “Degree of Openness” or lack there of.  Openness in the form of the internet (the whole community thing) is great — but the reality is businesses need secure collaboration and secure communities to protect IP and maintain whatever competitive advantage they have.  And communities tend to be less secure the more people involved.   And it is much easier to collaborate (and establish trust, commitment, team spirit) in smaller groups….    Likewise, as we’ve seen with the open internet (with youtube/facebook/myspace/etc) — openness is okay and works to some degree, but it still needs to be “policed” and monitored and people still want control of their privacy.  There’s probably a broader political theme I could expand on here…but won’t.

The final unit of collaboration is time.  Is it a project with a beginning and end, an ongoing project/event/business process?     Time affects resources involved too.  It also affects how we collaborate and overall scope of the collaboration itself.  The shorter the time, the less unstructured you want the collaboration to be.    In the case of an ongoing business process — you probably want that a little more structured.   Shorter time = more stress too and can affect the quality of effort. 

Content, People, Degree of Openness, and Time — there maybe more — but these 4 are the “units” of collaboration that come to my mind.   And anyone whose studied basic project management – schedule, scope, resources come to mind here.

May 18, 2008

Collaborative Innovation: Marketing vs. the Platform

Someone recently asked me about the topics of innovation & collaboration.   The question was whether this is simply a bunch of marketing and people stuff.   They wanted to know why the technology mattered….and my response was this….

The marketing and people stuff is important — no question about it. Any successful collaborative technology deployment I was part of had “marketing” component which is very key to that overall success once you have setup the platform.  However, you must do viral marketing — leveraging the power of social networks to evangelize the platform (and based on my experiences I’d argue this is the case both outside an organization as well as inside).   

A collaboration/innovation initiative for an organization must be grass roots and bottom up. As much as you might try to “manage” innovation (eg. stage-gates,etc..). or “manage” and force the use of collaboration technology — you simply can’t.   Today – the technology is the business and the business is the technology.  And technology is equally important and the platform has to be compelling otherwise users will not adopt it!    Facebook is compelling. Linkedin is compelling. Rimm Blackberry is compelling. Google is compelling. These platforms don’t need to do much marketing do they? 😉  And others may try to copy them and they may even try to “out-market” them to compete — but overtime no amount of marketing or touchy-feely people stuff will outshine a superior technology platform with superior features that spreads by word of mouth.