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Fighting Temeraire, old pride of the British Royal Navy, is sailing to the dockyards for scrapping. In this 1839 painting, Turner reflects on the decline of the sailing ship, towed by a steamboat toward its definitive end.

This work metaphorically illustrates how technological advances wipe out obsolete technology. Today it is absolutely relevant, engulfed as we are in a true digital tempest that obliterates anyone not committed to innovation at unprecedented speed.

Innovation

Quick sailing to a safe harbor, and who should be onboard.

Transforming to a concept of continuous disruption requires a sustained effort. In a century dominated by connections and collaboration, it may seem naive to entrust this to a small, even if select, group of people.

In other words, not only the more qualified–assuming, of course, that they are also on your payroll–can keep up with the pace. In contrast, today’s companies can build bridges and benefit from the resources around them, starting with their employees’ active support, but also that of their clients, suppliers and any other interested party they have a relationship with.

An openness in terms of the organization and in terms of mentality: tried and tested formulae–relying on our own, or even only on a small part of our own–can make us lose speed and punch. There are more and more organizations that drive large corporate open innovation programs both for internal and external talent, under the premise that the best ideas can’t always be found within the organization, and pooling efforts, increasing diversity and expanding fields of expertise can transform those ideas into real projects more quickly.

Steps to make innovation tangible.

In the recent book ‘Leading transformation: how to take charge of your company’s future’, Nathan Furr, Kyle Nel and Thomas Zoega Ramsoy cite three stages that must be overcome to innovate collectively, and that can be addressed jointly through the use of communities that host corporate innovation programs for companies.

  1. Divergent thinking.

The first step to innovation is taking the search for ideas beyond the ordinary. In this sense, the use of innovation communities gives access to a vast amount of divergent ideas in the short term, because they can connect people, visions and concepts in real time and over a sustained period. The basic assumption is that several brains think more and better than one, and that one plus one does not always equal two, but can add up to a lot more if the collaborative intelligence is flowing.

  1. Convergent action.

Acting on material found (ideas) to obtain something tangible. Many people can have great proposals, but they will not always be sufficiently focused or developed. Innovation communities allow users to co-create proposals so that the best will stand out organically. They also have the right mechanisms and people to filter proposals, separating the wheat from the chaff.

  1. Coordinate the entire process.

The previous steps will be of no use without an underlying culture that does not penalize mistakes, or if there are no clear goals, a strategy and proper follow-up in the evolution cycle for ideas toward something tangible. In this respect, innovation communities offer a unique channel where all parties involved can expand and convey the right messages. They also establish a governance system that sets the pace for users and facilitates the passage from ideas to projects.

How about you? Have you launched your corporate innovation program yet?

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Corporate innovation: from a reactive to a creative culture.