The convergence of internet technologies, cloud computing, and augmented analytical tools to interpret the rivers of data flowing through our now connected physical world is enabling the re-imagining of new business opportunities and whole industries. It's an exciting time to be involved in innovation, in harnessing this exponential level of change to deliver superior customer experience, and drive profitable growth.
Yet it seems that meaningful innovation, in a world where all systems are becoming inter-connected, is now harder than ever to execute, whether you're the start up or the incumbent.
Transforming long established industries, whether automotive, pharmaceuticals, service or healthcare, requires sophisticated knowledge of regulations, testing protocols, and traditional physical assets in addition to new technology.
Based on their work with CEOs from large companies, startup founders and venture capitalists, McKinsey partners Chandra Gnanasambandam and Michael Uhl found that the results driven through collaboration are superior to those achieved through M&A or from startup.
Their assertion is that twenty first century innovation is increasingly reliant on finding the right partners, on collaboration. And by "collaboration", they don't mean investment, but "a real exchange of ideas and means, and the vision to achieve distinct goals".
Such collaboration can take many forms, but relies on the fundamental combination of:
- corporate assets and deep understanding of the regulatory landscape
- intrapreneurs with the ability to rapidly test and scale
- technologists to inject new expertise
- venture capitalists offer funding and access to new talent
The authors see the role of venture capitalists as crucial players, as the connectors within the ecosystem. But of course, in order to achieve new collaborative models, all parties will need to move beyond often deeply ingrained competitive attitudes, embrace their strengths and weaknesses, and focus on a future that delivers shared value to all stakeholders.
The team at IDEO live by the mantra "all of us are better than any of us". And there is certainly wisdom and experience beyond the boundaries of any one organisation that will help solve a problem faster than any one organisation can hope to alone.
Collaboration, and the development of enabling ecosystems to drive open innovation is an imperative in our complex, globalised and now fundamentally digitally-interconnected era.
If we are to deliver more sustainable futures, the question for every organisation, whether corporation or start up, becomes:
How might we collaborate to construct the strategic vision for industry level innovation that delivers sustainable shared value for all?