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BLOG: Crowd collaboration drives innovation

Ross Maher | March 4, 2013
External collaboration is important to allow businesses to compete in the economy of the 21st century, which is increasingly being characterised by entrepreneurial start-ups with business models founded on the principles of collaboration and using methods such as crowd-sourcing.

So while collaboration isn't always successful, and many of your colleagues will be able to give you numerous examples of where things didn't quite work, or money was lost, it is imperative that business start the journey of collaboration now to learn how to make it work for them. Start small; start with your suppliers or customers to road-test a new product idea and see how they would improve it, or have exploratory conversations with unlikely groups such as not-for-profits to learn what Michael Porter - arguably the greatest business strategy guru of our times - was saying in his 2011 article "Creating Shared Value". Either way, just start!

The other fundamental component of collaboration is to learn how collaboration across the generations can occur. With the advent of digital technology that is fundamentally shifting how business and society operates, business (and government) leaders need to recognise the limitations of their capacity to identify and deliver new opportunities without the input of the younger generation. The successful businesses over the coming 10 years will be those that combine the talents of all their staff - regardless of age - in a productive way to problem solve and create.

But beware! Even as Gen Y's and the younger generation develop even more tools and get better at collaborating online, online collaboration tools ARE NOT the holy grail of collaboration. As Michael T Jones, Chief Technology Advocate at Google (speaking last year at Ci2012) said, "we can't replace the value of human interaction online". The real-time benefits of face-to-face interaction to problem solve and create are still the most powerful tools any organisation has.


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