Innovation and the power of networks

Recently, BusinessWeek interviewed Chris Meyer, CEO of Monitor Networks, for its weekly innovation podcast, on the growth of open innovation. Chris was formerly the director of CapGemini's Center for Business Innovation, a hotbed for information about business innovation several years ago. In this interview, Chris shares some fascinating observations about the challenges faced by organizations today and the promise of open innovation. Here are a few excerpts.

Recently, BusinessWeek interviewed Chris Meyer, CEO of Monitor Networks, for its weekly innovation podcast, on the growth of open innovation. Chris was formerly the director of CapGemini’s Center for Business Innovation, a hotbed for information about business innovation several years ago. In this interview, Chris shares some fascinating observations about the challenges faced by organizations today and the promise of open innovation. Here are a few excerpts:

How efficiency killed diversity, and opened the door for open innovation: “We’ve been through a period during the last 5 years or so of back to basics, nothing new… in which companies got extremely lean, and reduced their investments in the new, the innovative and reduced their confidence, frankly. So now they have organizations which are low on diversity (and) high on efficiency, but not particularly innovative. So suddenly, growth is important, innovation is more important. How are you going to do it? The fastest and best way is to look outside the walls of your organization for a diverse set of resources that can help.”

To be innovative, companies must be willing to sacrifice some efficiency: “The research on high-performance teams says that you want people who think the same way… Unfortunately, that means that if the… opponent’s tactics change, you don’t have a response, because collectively you think one way. So you have to introduce people who don’t think the same, who don’t perform predictably from your perspective. And we all know this is hard. But with people who… were trained in a different discipline, you get alternative ways of looking at the problem. And that’s the sine quo non of innovation.”

Building a tolerance for exploration: “In this crush toward efficiency and shareholder value in the last decade, we lost the tolerance for exploration… “Business has been driven so hard to keep its head down and produce short term results that very few people have the luxury in their managerial duties to explore. Organizations need to learn how to learn how to create search parties which are exploring new ideas, and integrate them in an effective work (with the other parts of the business).”

I highly recommend this interview. It’s about 16 minutes in length, and can be downloaded here.

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