August 13

Collaboration for Innovation – The Bigger Picture!

What does your org chart look like? Maybe a flat structure or a pyramid, perhaps a chaotic mass of cross-reporting lines or have you just not got around to creating one. Whatever the structure it’s a fair bet that it starts and ends with the people who are on your payroll.

But is that a fair representation of your organisation? Are those on the payroll the only ones who contribute to innovation and your business success? What about suppliers? They play their part as do outsource contractors and those in charge of infrastructure. In fact even your customers play their part in creating and maintaining your business reputation and success. So why are none of these individuals and organisations on your org chart? Admittedly if you listed every supplier and your accountants and customers and the person who refills the water cooler and everyone else who helps to make your business run then the org chart would look very full indeed. But without them your business simply wouldn’t exist.

And that’s the point. Your organisation is not just your people, it is a multi-faceted agglomeration of people and businesses and interactions. So when you look at developing vision and values, when you move towards creating a collaborative culture of innovation you need to step outside the immediate comfort zone and draw in everyone who has a stake in your success.

One business which is very aware of the importance of wider collaboration in innovation is VF. Better known to the wider public through its brands such as Wrangler and North Face, VF is a strong advocate of innovation. According to its website, in 2011 the company adopted ‘Lead in Innovation’ as one of its growth drivers and its work to instil a new culture of innovation is supported by ‘new processes and collaborative networks.’ In fact the company says;

“Over the next five years, innovation will play an increasingly large role in our plan to drive organic growth and higher gross margins.”

Innovation practices adopted by VF include working with experts and others from outside the apparel industry to bring new perspectives to the organisation as well as accelerating supply chain innovation by bringing designers and manufacturers together. This latter example ‘seeks to create a new kind of manufacturing and logistics model based on face-to-face collaboration, a shared spirit of experimentation and new communications tools.’

VF isn’t unique in their approach but they are a good example of the way in which organisations can transform their outlook simply by seeking to collaborate with the wider world. But to do so requires a radical shift in thinking on the part of the CEO and the senior team. When 66% of major UK business leaders claim their current organisational structure makes it difficult to share knowledge and understanding what hope do they have of collaborating outside the organisation?

This is where we come to the crux of creating innovative organisations, which will drive the Next Generation of enhanced business performance and success. Building a culture of innovation is not a box ticking handy bolt on which looks good in the organisational report. Adopting a culture of innovation requires a complete overhaul of outlook and processes. Innovation has to be built into every practice, attitude and process and this means aligning and implementing innovation strategies that not only enhance business performance and drive growth but that fundamentally ‘change the game’. Those who succeed will not only have changed the internal culture but will have embraced the concept of the organisation as a wider entity with collaboration the name of the game.

What does your org chart look like? If it’s not collaborative and you can’t drive innovation, perhaps it’s time you got in touch.



Collaboration, Innovation, Innovation Consultancy, Innovation Consultant, Innovation Expert, Innovation Leadership

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