Collaboration: It isn’t all Internal
By Admin

November 14, 2011

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The Great Workplace research has shown that collaborations which lead to increased profitability do not stop within your building. As a matter of fact going outside your four walls is actually seeking collaborative innovation.

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In a recent Smart Business News article by Nine Sigma’s Andy Zynga he cites: “Open innovation is really all about companies going outside their four walls to seek knowledge, technologies and innovations from around the world.”

Nine Sigma provides open innovation services to businesses by taking confidential needs summaries and approaching potential solution-providers.

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“Answers come from industries that you would never have expected”, says Zynga. “Once you start going outside your own four walls, it’s a catalyst to collaborate more internally because (you) learn how to do that. They learn how to ENGAGE with outsiders, to trust, to have relationships, to understand (technology) positions and it helps to collaborate internally”.

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The Great Workplace has discovered that the most sustainable organizations have learned that “Collaborations” (for innovation or addressing any business issue) that are external yield profitable results. Where do they go?

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1)     Internal team members that are not within the department where the issue or opportunity has begun. Fresh eyes, but ones attached to the Purpose and Missions of the organization can lead to many “Ah Hah” moments and ideas from serendipitous encounters fueled by differing points of view.

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2)     Vendors. Who knows your industry better than a wise vendor who deals with your competitors or has schooled themselves in your industry’s best practices?

3)     Community: Local business executives, the population as a whole near you, want you to succeed. They may have ideas that have not passed through your own staff.

4)     Association members you connect with for other reasons:JohnCarrollUniversity’s Entrepreneurs Association is a talented group of 250 business owners and service professionals who are all successful These men and women have run into your issues before. The JCUEA also has an internal Business Advisory Network where selected members confidentially address your concerns or opportunities.

5)     Your Board or advisory board: Most often, boards are used for compliance or structural gate-keeping. The members should be successful business people in their own right, and if working with them is painful they will be able to introduce you to potential experts.


The one expert resource least used is Vendors. And that alone is a shame. Don’t think that a vendor is only narrowly engaged in the one product (s) or service (s) they offer. Their top management could be expert in the exact issue you have at hand. Ask. Chances are they will willingly consult, for free.

“Answers come from industries that you would never have expected”. Wise man Andy.

I’ll leave you with a fact: P&G is innovative. Their products dominate the consumer-goods arena: Did you know that 70+ % of their innovations now come from “Open Collaborations” and asking for innovative thinking … from OUTSIDE their own company.


What do you think?