Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Live from Front End of Innovation 2012: Jeffrey Henning on Divergent Collaboration

Collaboration, reduced to its bare essentials, is that we all know something that other people don't. -- Jeffrey Henning, Affinova


Ideas tend to take a path all their own.  They can come from anywhere and, as they move through different people, they evolve.  When people are in close proximity, they can evolve even faster as they bounce around from person to person.  Pretty soon, the synergy builds and turns into an exciting opportunity that people can fall in love with, and then team up to make it happen.

The trouble is, many companies aren't making it happen because they are not harnessing the power of collaboration.  They keep people separated and incentivize employees to protect their own knowledge and prevent other people from muscling in on their bonuses and promotions.  Suggesting that companies get on the collaboration bandwagon, Henning presents several ideas for creating collaborative cultures, networks, and technologies (some of the most important ones are in bold).


Hallmarks of Collaborative Culture
  • Informal Leadership -- let people riff off of one another
  • Team Rewards -- use the right incentives to reward genuine teamwork and successful ideas -- rewards should align with innovation goals
  • Embracing Surprises -- negative surprises highlight opportunities for improvement

Hallmarks of Collaborative Networks
  • Interaction across business units
  • Networks with weak ties -- casual acquaintances and contacts can be sources of new ideas -- those who are closer to you are more likely to share your ideas and experiences and will not incite you to leave your comfort zone
  • Open-Innovation networks

Hallmarks of Collaborative Technology
  • Spontaneity -- expose yourself to past expertise and ideas that the organization has tested
  • Dynamic workflow
  • Efficiency through innovation

Instead of using concepts as structures for ideas, collaborate through concept optimization.  Brainstorm through each element of optimization, and create an innovation space that makes use of the exponential power of combining the options.



Orin C. Davis is the first person to earn a doctorate in positive psychology.  His research focuses on flow, creativity, hypnosis, and mentoring, and it spans both the workplace and daily life.  He is the principal investigator of the Quality of Life Laboratory and a freelance consultant who helps companies maximize their human capital and become better places to work.

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