In this article for Businessweek, Joerg Schrottke and Thomas Weber look at how the theory of business innovation is evolving. The authors note that the notion that innovation comes from the ideas and mind of a single great business leader is shifting to focus on collaborative innovation. Collaborative innovation refers to mixed team of in-house employees and outsiders. Organizations such as Proctor & Gamble have been running collaborative innovation programs like the organization’s Connect+Develop research and development program that encourages a close relationship with the organization and its suppliers. But, Schrottke and Weber contend that the future of collaborative innovation will extend even beyond these types of programs and will require formal organizational structures that don’t even exist yet.
What’s driving this change? Schrottke and Weber discuss several factors. One is that the world’s talent isn’t meeting demand, so organizations are becoming more reliant on looking both inside the organization, across departments, as well as outside the organization for specialized skills and top-tier talent.
The second driving factor is generational. The authors note that the best talent of the younger generations are becoming increasingly eager to remain outside organizations, even prestigious ones. New technologies as well as a change in infrastructure are making this increasingly possible, as Schrottke and Weber note, “More and more of the best would rather be outside, occasionally connected to an organization and occasionally connected to its competitors. Making this possible—and in many cases more efficient and effective—are the enabling technologies (cloud and mobile computing, for example) of a decentralized workforce.”
Future innovation will not rely on the brilliant ideas of one person, but on a managers skill in extracting the ideas of many–whether they reside inside or outside the organization.