Innovation Heroes Do Not Have To Do It All Alone

Nowadays business innovation cannot happen in silos.

Product people and developers need to talk to each other and co-create; research teams and marketing need to be on the front line together.

It does not matter if the company employs five or five hundred people. If the innovation is in the company’s culture, it will not be shown only in the motivational quotes on the company walls. Authentic business innovation will be manifested in every touch point and every interaction that somebody (internally or externally) has with the company.

Literally, innovation will be part of the company’s DNA.

This is hard to do because it is a long-term endeavor. It is an ongoing marathon rather than a sporadic sprint that happens once in a while.

The other day my colleague gave me the reassuring advice because my project task required a lot of autonomous work and dealing with uncertainty, which is how our industry works. “Do not feel you are alone in what you are doing. Because you are competent in this particular field you are the best person to tackle this challenge, but others can help you with the preparation, research and other phases.”

Situations like this make or break the company culture. Situations like this are the reason why customers buy from you again. Situations like this define if the company will attract and retain top talent.

When it comes to online communities, many models of collaboration emerge where individual contribution and wisdom of crowds goes hand in hand. As a hero or heroine advocating the innovative edge in your company, you should not do it alone.

Your online community can become the place for collective intelligence about your new products; top ideas or best customer success stories. Your online community may become the fertile ground where fresh seeds of ideas turn into fruits of meaningful labor. Your online community can also share lessons learned from previous innovation endeavors as well as tools and concepts that are aligned with the latest discoveries in digital business.

Your online community is also a network of excellence if you use it to promote and reward top ideas, while you set guidelines how community should behave in the first place. In the endless ocean of NEW: new business models, new digital supply chains, new partnerships, or new digital channels, you need to have a filter for sifting your ideas. Why not use an online community to automate some choices and to make more informed choices about company’s strategy?

You can build centers of excellence inside the community with tried and tested expertise, abundance of resources, clear guidance and urgency for people to participate in the community and seize innovative edge they have.

One big item should never be forgotten: if your top management wants that the company has superb profitability and market share thanks to innovation, they will set a tone, scene and atmosphere so that innovation can happen.

Dion Hinchcliffe reminds us that strategy and co-creation happen in digital workplaces thanks to numerous players: change agents, community managers, executive leadership in the company, as well as business and technology stakeholders, liaisons and owners, program managers, web team, social architect strategists, and big data analysts. This is definitely teamwork and this is definitely business process that cannot be built overnight.

Likewise, on a community platform teams that do community management are actually involved in some of these scenarios: engaging, managing, moderating, facilitating, research, curation, monitoring, research, planning, and measuring.

Innovation heroes in your department that engage in the community can have the Internal or External Focus, depending on their workplace and expertise. For example, Internal focus may be reserved for Project champions, analysts, IT architect, technical team, and intranet; whereas External is related to Social marketing, Social CSRs, Corporate communication, and operations team.

Today is Nikola Tesla’s Day, the birthday of one of the most brilliant innovators of all time, who transformed how the modern world operates. His selfless contribution to society and genius capacity that thousands of people may not have combined together is remarkable. Yet Tesla’s journey is rather an outlier to how innovation works typically.

Nowadays the rat race over market share and competitive edge is ruthless even more so we need to rely on the wisdom of our community which shares our know-how and values. Disruptive innovation can be nurtured thanks to Tesla-like people in the future, but it takes a tribe of support to get that innovation from the ground.

In a heroic journey you do not have to do it alone.

Written by: Milena Milićević