The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Friday Guest Blog: Innovation through collaboration

by Matthew Goldsbrough, Goldsbrough Consulting

'Everybody keeps telling me I have to be innovative', complained a business owner I was talking to the other day, 'but innovation is such a lonely business.'

'But who said you had to innovate by yourself?', I replied.

In my experience, that's not how innovation works best, and I'll explain how business partners can help you in just a moment. But first, let's put some structure on innovation.

The purpose of innovation is, of course, to be more competitive, to beat your competitors, to build value in your company. And there are three dimensions in which you can do that – product, process and customer.

I've written before about those dimensions in No Business Is Too Small for Strategic Thinking. You can try to excel in product leadership, or operational excellence, or customer intimacy. And you can try to be innovative in small incremental steps, or by introducing much more dramatic changes.

But coming up with something new means you need 'a great idea', and introducing it successfully means you need to be able to deal with the risk involved.

And that's where partners can help.

I believe that most successful companies see themselves as part of an interconnected network, and put real effort into making their business alliances mutually beneficial. I wrote recently about how important it was to map out those alliances in a systematic way. It's in working with those partners that you get access to much greater creative resources than you've necessarily got in-house.

Partners can stimulate your thinking about how you can radically improve your products, processes, and customer interactions. They can highlight deficiencies that you might not be aware of. They can provide parts of your innovative solution, so that you don't have to do it all alone.

Thinking back to my own experience of partnering, and trying to stay ahead of competition, I've viewed innovation as a collaborative activity. As a result, I've got those 'great ideas' more quickly, and introduced them to the market much more successfully.

Go to www.goldsbrough.biz/innovation-through-collaboration for an extended version of this article.

About the Author
Since setting up Goldsbrough Consulting in 2003, Matthew Goldsbrough has helped his clients to build stronger companies, with marketing at the core of their business strategies. Matthew previously spent more than twenty years in the software industry, leading teams that designed, built, marketed, sold and supported products and services. Matthew helps businesses to plan and use marketing effectively, using the experience developed in a variety of senior roles throughout Europe and the USA.

Year of Innovation
New Chamber President, Moneeb Awan has pledged to promote real innovation amongst our membership in his Presidential year and as part of this, we're about to launch a new area of our website that is not just about new ideas but how they are put into practice to create new products and services, improve the way things are run or add value.

We're lucky to have some extremely innovative and forward-thinking businesses amongst our membership and here is where you can tap into that expertise.

To get the ball rolling, we're interested to hear your own examples of innovation. Please email: matthew.hall@gmchamber.co.uk if you have a great story and would like to be featured.

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