Zombie Companies? – No really, there are “Dead Companies Walking” out there

Scott Fearon has built a lucrative career on getting really good at finding companies that are not adapting to the changing world. There are six main reasons that companies go off the tracks.

What is the difference between communication and communications?

Communication is a shared experience. Communications is how that experience is shared. Communicating is the core of every interaction we have. The relative framework for different types of communication enabled by different types of communications brings an insightful view to communicating and reveals the sweet spot that enables Innovation.

3 Steps to Building a Collaborative Business

Organizations want to become more collaborative. Investing in technology tools that drive innovation and connect key stakeholders will help accelerate collaboration only if people know how to use these tools. Otherwise, instead of accelerating collaboration, you’ve just purchased some expensive dust collectors. Find out how to avoid expensive dust collectors by executing effective technology adoption in this week’s blog.

Is True Collaboration a 2 Pizza Team Rule?

Jeff Bezos, Thomas Edison and Mark Zuckerburg have all had a common observation – smaller teams accomplish more. Far more, when it comes to creative or innovative work. So, what technology can turbo charge these smaller teams to be creative and innovative?

What Type of Space Do You Need?

Meeting rooms are where workspace and technology really come together. Room systems must be effective places to meet where both the physical and virtual world intersect seamlessly. They must contain the right mix of conferencing technologies to enable the required level of collaboration and this will naturally lead to innovation.

The Collaborative Entrepreneur

Recently, I attended a luncheon where the main speaker was Greg Wolfond. Greg is an entrepreneur connected to two very successful technology start-ups; Footprint Software and 724 Solutions. Greg is now at his third start-up, SecureKey Technologies. What makes SecureKey Technologies stand out is their implementation of a collaborative strategy. In this blog, I share some of Greg’s secrets to being a collaborative entrepreneur.

How to Get More Space From Less Space – Factors Offsetting Having Less Real Estate

As the old cubical farms of the Dilbert era are being replaced with open concept space, there are ways to increase meeting space capacity, even if you are reducing your real estate footprint. Here are 6 solutions on how to get more space from less space.

Do you Lack Meeting Room Space? Without Exception, Every Company or Agency I Speak with has This Problem

Research has shown that while individual work might result in a faster answer, collaboration consistently delivers deeper and richer ideas because broad perspectives and cross-pollination of ideas teams can offer. There are two trends working against the availability of meeting space however here’s how you can combat them.

Without Collaboration, There is No Innovation!

I recently wrote about the importance of Innovation. We reviewed why people and organizations that consistently innovate are not only able to sustain themselves in ever changing environments but that they actually grow and thrive beyond their peers.

Innovation is not about invented technologies; it is about how those technologies are applied in meaningful ways. The US Patent & Trademark Office estimates that only one out of every 500 patents has any chance of commercialization. Innovation combines existing technological inventions with new ways of doing things, to create new value.

So far we know:

Collaboration= Innovation

Innovation= Sustainability in the Market & Economic Prosperity

Collaboration is to Innovation as Innovation is to economic prosperity. You can’t sustain prosperity long term without Innovation and you cant be truly innovative without robust and consistent collaboration with others.

Collaboration is about the pooling of ideas, resources and energies. Whenever people come together in creative discussion about how to solve a problem or create something new, the most powerful mechanism of development comes to bear. A big gene pool of ideas, perspectives and experiences always trumps limited pools. And so, we should look for ways to foster collaboration as a required stepping stone to Innovation.

121900809This isn’t always the obvious approach. Often we want to keep our best ideas to ourselves so that we can realize the benefits and not have others steal them or get credit for them. In reality, by sharing openly we will likely realize more and quicker success.

Don Tapscott, in his book entitled Wikinomics, describes the new world economy based on four Collaboration principles of Openness, Peering, Sharing and Acting Globally. He describes how a number of companies reached huge levels of success by adopting these principles even when it seemed counter intuitive.

Top Three Business Examples of Collaboration Driving Innovation:

  1. IBM resisted the open platform software development efforts of the Linux community for many years. Their logic was that the Linux effort was competitive to their own software business and that Linux would die off eventually. After several years of resistance IBM realized that Linux was here to stay and actually was contributing huge value to the world. At a certain point, IBM decided to join the Linux community and over time, shared approximately $100 million dollars worth of their own development efforts for free. What they got back for opening their development ‘kimono’, was over $400 million in free development.
  2. Another Ontario based mining company broke the traditional taboo of their industry by publishing all its geological data on the internet asking for advice on where to mine and offered a reward for new ideas. Their revenues increased from $100 million to $9 billion, almost entirely out of openness, collaboration and trust.
  3. In the newest book from the Intelligent Communities Foundation entitled ‘Seizing our Destiny’ the authors describe how 7 communities around the world earned the rank of Most Intelligent Communities. Invariably these communities started with collaboration as a corner stone of their path to new successes. Several of them were coming from the depths of serious challenges and were forced to reinvent themselves in creative and innovative ways.

So as it turns out, Collaboration is the necessary predecessor to Innovation.

It is critical that we all create environments of mass collaboration. Enabling creative thinking and acting wherever we co-exist. We should challenge ourselves to enable those environments with technologies that allow flexible work styles and places. We should foster those principles of Openness, Peering, Sharing and Acting Globally whenever we can.

What greatness can you or your organization possibly achieve by Collaborating better?

If you are still trying to “sell” collaboration in your organization and people don’t understand how collaboration achieves innovation and economic sustainability, here are some handy quotes for you to use.

What does INNOVATION really mean?

Some months ago, I was sitting in a community economic development meeting being presented a 5 year plan for the regional government. One of the principal tenets was that the community needed to provide an environment that fostered innovation as a key enabler to sustained prosperity.

I was amazed to hear a number of my colleagues, business owners and government leaders, comment on how innovation was an overused term that didn’t really mean anything. Several expressed their lack of understanding of what innovation is and why it is important.

Apparently, my colleagues are not alone. There seems to be a growing frustration on this very topic. (Have a read on successful innovation companies.)

I am sure the people in this meeting were just voicing what many other business and community leaders have asked themselves:

What does innovation really mean?

  1. How does it get realized within a business or organization?
  2. What really is the outcome for the business or organization?

178089032Innovation and Employment in the Intelligent Community , published by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), describes how Innovation is linked to employment for individuals, companies, governments and communities. It turns out that economic growth is not simply a matter of two inputs: capital ($s invested) and labor (people employed), as once thought. A study by economist Moses Abramovitz found that there was a missing X-factor that accounted for growth in economic output. That missing factor turned out to be the introduction of new technology translating into innovation.

Management consultant Peter Drucker suggests that, “the only business activities that actually create value are innovation (making something new) and marketing (finding a way to sell it). Everything else a business does – all of its visible aspects from buildings and assembly lines – are just costs that have to be paid from the proceeds of innovation and marketing.

Striving for innovation is imperative for businesses and organizations today. Competition in today’s wired world is fierce and instantaneous. Finding new ways to do things and sell things is what will keep companies and communities evolving. But many organizations stumble when it comes to arming their people with the right leadership skills, processes and tools to truly implement and understand the power of innovation.

So how do you start to realize innovation in your organization?

  1. First define the sandbox. What is broken and where is their new ways of doing something?
  2. How will people in a business or organization work together to foster innovation?
  3. How will success be defined?

For many years, ET Group has kept a close eye on question #2. Many companies and organizations spend a great deal of time and money identifying opportunities for innovation but then fail to allow the people in their organizations to collaborate in a way that will foster innovation in their organizations.

Authors Ron Ricci and Carl Wiese, in their book The Collaboration Imperative, suggest that “improved collaboration represents your best opportunity to tap the full range of talents of your people, move with greater speed and flexibility and compete to win over the next decade.”

Collaboration is perhaps the most important tenet of innovation and should be part of a definition in any organization.