New Product Innovation: Collaborate For Success

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We’re fast exiting a world where good enough was enough to a world where good enough is dead. The demise of the Fortune 500 firms from 50 years ago has been accelerating and today we are left with just 60 of those still present.

In the words of the brilliant Gerd Leonhard, we’re in a world where everything is connected, everything is becoming equally excellent and product performance is nearing perfection, there remains but one area left to improve, and that is You.

We are central to that raging torrent of change, fueled by Digitalization, Mobilization, Augmentation and Automation.

What was once Science Fiction, is fast becoming science fact amid huge technology innovation. The way we will work, operate together and the skills we will use, will never be the same again.

Winning & losing are happening faster than ever before and so how do you respond?

How will you discover new opportunities during the most transformational time in human history?

Are you driving it or being driven by it?

Disruption has become the new normal and change has stopped happening gradually.

Every “dumb” and disconnected product is becoming intelligent, wired and connected, be that planes, trains, automobiles, ports, cities and even our bodies. They combine and then compound, creating a huge torrent of change.

Quantum computing fuels Big Data, in turn accelerating the take-up of IoT that fuels Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning that create the Robots that will eventually kill us all! However, in the meantime until that day, anything that can’t be digitized or automated will become extremely valuable. It’s our human traits that will eventually differentiate our organizations: innovation through creativity, intuition, imagination, emotion & ethics will become the most important in the future, because machines are good at simulating but not at being.

To be involved with Business Transformation, you’ve got to be involved with what might be, not just what is. Let’s jump forward 10yrs, maybe even just 5yrs and the opportunities are numerous, as long as we are agile and flexible and ready to learn Just-In-Time, not Just-In-Case; not with single changes, but with complete transformations; not new systems, but new ecosystems.

It’s in our humanity where true and lasting value is created. We will engage, relate and buy because of the experience we provide, because of its transformative power. The future is in technology, but the bigger future is in transcending it.

Only 12% of the Fortune 500 of 50 years ago have survived and their demise has been accelerating, because of their failure to innovate and adapt.

The key to survival…..when everyone is going one way, go the other: you must disrupt or be disrupted. Many think innovation & disruption are job descriptions, reserved for heads of or departments, but how wrong they are. For businesses to survive and thrive, everyone in the organization needs to be thinking creatively. Everyone should be focusing on ways to innovate and disrupt.

Even the biggest rest on their laurels and can forget the long-term game of you’re either going forward or you’re going backwards.

If the 20th Century was about competition then surely the 21st is about co-opetition! Numerous analyses have been undertaken proving that unhealthy competition frequently stunts growth versus a positive collaborative environment.

A workplace culture of collaboration prospers amongst humility, respect and authenticity. As creatures we are designed to connect and create together.

Given everyone needs to be innovating and disrupting the old rules, the importance of collaboration is everywhere:

Being honest about your teams strengths and weaknesses, forces you to seek help in all the critical aspects of the “what might be” future and those functional intelligences required from across the ecosystem.

Appreciating that you are part of a bigger picture, a bigger purpose creates power. The ecosystem brings diverse mindsets and ways of thinking that enhances the team. Sharing and leveraging those resources means that your reach to new markets increases and re-energizes the connection you have with established customers.

New teams, different perspectives means new tensions and this can be harnessed to create a new energy to propel thinking to a new level.

Things don’t always work out the best when you collaborate, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you never attempt again to work with that organization. Remember, speed is everything and consistency is speed. Take the long view about perceived failures. If you share the same values, the same beliefs, you have a partnership worth saving!

As we all find our way in the 4th Industrial Revolution, we are all learning. The only question is who learns fastest? Moving at speed, trying new things, handling multiple initiatives to find the best way through fast, micro failures to success is the only way. Each time your firm collaborates with others you optimize the capacity of your associates to extend beyond their comfort zone, grow, and in turn, stretch the boundaries of the organization.

Imagine using technology to link in “outsiders” such as suppliers and customers into your development projects and coming up with better ideas more quickly and cheaply than you’re doing today?

Imagine a technology company orchestrating the design of a new vehicle through an open network of interested customers, software engineers and suppliers, all working internationally with one another. It’s the model of like-minded parties. It’s starting to happen all over the world.

Most industries are climbing aboard the collaborative approach to new product innovation:

Digital innovation and digital organizations are co-dependent and intertwined.

The innovation platform provides potentially so much:

  • a cohesive approach to product innovation, product development and engineering, right through manufacturing and service.
  • a single data model so everyone works on the same information in real-time, creating a cohesive digital twin
  • a single digital thread that connects information and people across the product lifecycle.
  • providing the foundation for manufacturers to fundamentally transform their business and their relationships with customers.

Today’s digital enterprises are moving from a product-centric business to offer extended value. They’re redefining their value streams to deliver more than just a commodity to instead finding ways to offer value across the entire customer relationship.

These integrated solutions provide business value as the next step in the evolution of product lifecycle management (PLM) software suites.

An integrated digital model also provides the ability for companies to simulate the behavior of the entire system, including communications to related systems to support complex system-of-systems environments. The cohesive nature of design and simulation in the innovation platform is a huge boost to today’s current business, driving higher levels of productivity and product development performance.

Without a collaborative approach to design, how can we compete in the 4IR? Without new and disruptive products and services, how can we survive and thrive?

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” — H.E. Luccock

“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” — Reid Hoffman

Originally published at on March 23, 2019.

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