Innovation Inspiration: Out with the old, in with the new?

09 Feb 2009|Added Value

CEO Added Value FranceJust when it seemed that the innovation processes of all corporations were essentially the same, the landscape changed for ever, and new models of innovation have emerged with the capacity to provide competitive advantage to those organisations with the foresight to experiment.

Yochai Benkler, the ‘leading intellectual of the information age’, makes the claim that for the first time since the Industrial Revolution the most important means of value creation are in the hands of the people: digital technology, combined with human intelligence and creativity, offers the opportunity for what he calls “social production” – groups of people coming together to produce the likes of Linux and Wikipedia.

View movie: Open-source Economics

Demos’ Charles Leadbetter uses examples such as the $58 billion mountain bike market to talk about the new era of innovation based on “collaborative creativity”. Rather than the “old, corporate-backed model” that delivers a pipeline of solutions to a passive consumer, Leadbetter proposes a model that leverages a community of what he calls “pro-am consumers.”

View movie: The Rise of the Amateur Professional

“The new face of innovation”is how a team at McKinsey expresses this shift. Characterising predominant processes as a series of closely-managed steps conducted internally, they give examples of companies (Boeing, HP, Apple, Eli Lilly, Peugeot, LEGO and Threadless) that have opened up to the idea of the web as a platform for collaboration with external parties. The result? The holy grail of bigger, better ideas delivered faster. Happily for large corporations, you don’t need to re-invent your business systems to start the journey.

Read more: The Next Step in Open Innovation

P&G is probably the benchmark corporation here, and in the Harvard Business Review Larry Huston, VP Innovation & Knowledge and Nabil Sakkab, Senior VP Corporate R&D give an inside view. The Connect & Develop programme produces more than 35% of the company’s innovations and billions of dollars of revenue. Using Pringles as an example, they explain why the old innovation model only provides incremental changes – nowhere near enough for a mature business in an intensely competitive environment.

Read more: Connect & Develop: inside P&G’s New Model for Innovation

Finishing on some lesser-known examples: assessing IBM’s Innovation Jam, Osvald Bjelland and Robert Chapman Wood from Sloane Management Review provide a quick and helpful overview of its pros and cons, concluding that while people at all levels of an organisation can have great ideas, analysis and synthesis are key in making the ideas useful.

Read more: An inside view of IBM’s Innovation Jam Network

And while highlighting scepticism around Starbucks’ first plays in this territory, Stratégie identifies how diverse organisations here in France are starting to experiment, including Printemps, Renault, EDF and Crowd Spirit.

Read more: Marketing Assisté par  un Consommateur

By Jonathan Hall, CEO Added Value France

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