Innovation Communities

By: David | September 23, 2010

Notwithstanding the recent announcement of cybernetic eyeself-replicating machines and all manner of technology some feel may someday replace humanity, when we look at the process of innovation within the business and academic world, the central processor is still human imagination. Technology provides the tools for us to do what we could already do a bit easier, or increasingly, do things we simply couldn’t do before. InnovationSpigitTM is such a technological solution, but it helps to remember that no matter how powerful the tool may be, we need people to pick it up and use it.

How, then, do we use InnovationSpigitTM to drive innovation in new directions? First, we look at how traditional innovation programs are run in the business world: dedicated teams of researchers paid to develop new solutions, products, business practices, the list goes on. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that approach: Bell Labs was perhaps one of the greatest examples of how directed research could produce wonderful innovation. That’s why we consider this approach the traditional innovation program methodology: it works.

The problem is that we don’t live in the same world we did in the 20th century.  Technological advancement and faster business cycles today require new solutions to keep an organization competitive. Cutting edge computing is concerned with clouds, but innovation still works best with crowds. Whether you like the term crowdsourcing or not, everyone understands the concept: if you can reach the crowd, you can tap into an unbelievable store of energy and creativity. It is this untapped reservoir of power that InnovationSpigitTM was built to reach.

The positive impact is fairly easy to see: an organization may have very innovative, team-oriented people who are never put in a position to offer their brand of expertise. An office manager might have the next new product locked up in her head. A warehouse employee might have a great process improvement for inventory control that only someone in the trenches could see. Provide a framework, incentives and an easy way to manage this intellectual property, and you’ve struck a goldmine.

The risks lurk in the wings, of course: can I justify this investment under these economic circumstances? Will my R&D team feel obsolete? What kind of politics is involved if a new hire comes up with a better idea in the system than the CEO?

The answer lies not only in the tool, but the community itself. Corporate culture will drive how any organization’s innovation community evolves. The innovation community is a completely new asset for the organization. The faster the innovation project team can adapt to the new inclusive innovation model will determine how quickly the organization can recoup on that investment.