“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust
“Man cannot discover new oceans, unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide
In Wikinomics, and other recent books, the authors discuss the impact of mass collaboration on creativity and business, using a variety of examples and anecdotes. However, collaboration is an old trick for improving creativity, and making connections to different ideas, different perspectives, different paradigms and different contexts (for instance) has been proved to fuel creativity and stimulate the generation of new ideas. Having said that, recent developments in technology mean that it is now easy for anyone and any company to access collaborative tools, and more importantly to access other people, who can help in their innovation endeavours. Indeed some entrepreneurs are making whole businesses from providing these tools (Innocentive, Wikipedia to name two).
At the heart of the many books written about the impact of new technology and a consumer-led culture of creativity are three core ideas, which are the key to any creative endeavour, whatever technology and tools are used.
1) Be open – the start point of any innovation process is to be open. Start with a fresh mind and be open to different points of view and multiple perspectives on your problem. Use creative techniques to help you brainstorm ideas, even within a structured process, and don’t initially reject any idea however bizarre it may seem. Be open and inclusive to working with other colleagues, outside experts and consumers to helping you understand and address the challenge. Open organisations beat closed ones every time in winning the innovation race.
2) Share your ideas – discuss your ideas with others, and use outside resources to help you. Particularly in small companies, you will not have access to all the resources that can help you, so create a community of collaborators who can contribute to your process. Multiple minds are always better than one. Many companies have benefited from using open platforms to drive innovation, efficiency and quality (eg Amazon, Linux).
3) Think globally – the world is small (although not flat, apologies to Thomas Friedman), and it is easier than ever to access skills and talents across the globe to create the ultimate team. Use technology to create a virtual team, to address any business problem you face, and engage all those, wherever they are, who can contribute to your innovation. Harness the talents of others to help you work faster, more creatively and smarter (and do not think of outsourcing as a way to off-load costs – it is not!).
The world is a small place, and filled with people who have the skills and knowledge to help you achieve your goals. Be open to the opportunity and harness technology to help you create greater value!
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams (2006)