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Collaborate Externally to Drive Innovation

Many CEOs are currently navigating challenging business conditions. This is often the catalyst to review strategic direction, which in turn requires ‘new’ thinking.

Not only do organisations have the tension of managing Business as Usual (BAU) and developing new Strategic Initiatives, they need to manage the process of bringing new thinking into the organisation.

This post explores how ‘collaboration’ with external parties including with key customers, potential suppliers and research bodies can be a leveraged source of innovation with two great examples.

Typical sources of new thinking include:

  • Internal Innovation teams – unleashing the shining stars in your organisation to work on the new initiatives that they see as opportunities…
  • External consultants, futurists, new thinkers to change our perspective.
  • Your Advisory Board bringing diverse, independent perspective.
  • Your Strategic Planning process – should provide a structure for bringing the outside -in. Read More

But I wonder if Collaboration with external organisations is getting the airplay it needs in your organisation.  How could that be a high-octane source of new thinking to drive innovation, new business models, new products and services. supply chain improvements, enhanced value-add of your products and services or plain old ‘stickiness’ with clients?

One of the key recommended initiatives in the BCG article How to Thrive in the 2020s (Referenced in the last Leading News) was #3, “Embrace new ways of working.’ The theme being “reorganise work around a network of empowered teams designed for agility and innovation.” Those teams can made up of internal and external people.

To illustrate the point, two examples.

V2 Food Plant based Meat

At our most recent Lead Your Industry CEO Luncheon Phil Morle, partner in CSIROs Main Sequence Ventures shared the phenomenal story of V2 food.

With a massive “purpose” to find a way to feed 10 billion people -they set-out to create a tasty plant-based alternative to animal meat that is nutritious and better for the planet.

Phil explained that collaboration was ‘designed-in’ to V2 food at the outset. Combining product depth emerging from the access to the science and research capability of the CSIRO to instant access to the market via the supply chain and distribution of Hungry Jacks, to funding and risk capital provided by Main Street Ventures. The result, a new product the “Rebel Whopper” was launched in Hungry Jacks with the tag !00% Whopper, 0% Meat and is now selling nationally across Australia. The product is also being exported to NZ. More Information 

Street Furniture Australia – ChillOUT project

A second example is from a long term client and Industry Leader, Street Furniture Australia.

With products like the eBin, sensing when its full and the PowerMe table, Australia’s first ‘smart’ bench, Street Furniture Australia is already an Industry Leader and Innovator, winner of a Good Design Award and an Australian Smart City Award.

Driving innovation and managing Business as Usual takes resources, funding and commitment. What better way to drive new thinking than partnering with a key client in this Georges River Council, and a research partner University of New South Wales with a a goal of exploring how we can increase community connectivity and provide flexible spaces to meet work and play.. The net result, a prototype new product concept has been built and is currently under ‘test’ in three different locations. Inevitably a new product/service concept will emerge from this activity that will be market tested. More Information

Two great examples of collaboration driving innovation with common threads being:

  • Partnering with external parties to drive innovation.
  • Engage profile customers in the process.
  • Involve a university, data scientist, technical or creative resource.
  • Utilise Federal or State government funding wherever possible (not least the R&D tax offset.)

For guidance on possible funding (via the CSIRO) See here

Time to explore how Collaboration could impact your growth strategy?

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