Moving from the "pain of a new idea" to collaboration and innovation


Collaboration involves people or organizations working together toward an intersection of common goals. Innovation is about a new way of doing something; about making changes in your thinking, processes, products, and/or organization.

We know collaborative thought and action can lead to new ideas and innovation. Yet, still we are reluctant to use a collaborative approach as the fuel for innovation. Why? Maybe it’s because launching a new collaborative can be messy. And, if collaboration leads to that new idea, it’s been said one off the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea. Well, maybe that’s all just too much to deal with.


On the flip side of our human nature, there seems to be a collective mood out there for collaboration, for inclusiveness, for new innovative ways of working together to address complex situations and uncertainty.

Don Tapscott is a well-known writer about organizational transformation and the role of technology in business and society. Recently, I re-read parts of his book Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, in which Tapscott gives insight into the ways organizations are using online collaboration (and Web 2.0 social media tools) to create innovation. He provides a range of case examples; including organizations that:

  • give scientists and technical staff access to the global marketplace of ideas, innovations and uniquely qualified minds with a view to extending their problem-solving capacity
  • provide platforms for those seeking a solution with those who can solve the problem
  • give clients or customers tools for participating in ways that add value to the organization’s product or service
  • develop platforms that support communities of partnership and practice
  • use Wiki workplaces to increase innovation and improve morale by cutting across organizational hierarchies in all kinds of unorthodox ways

Traditionally, media is about telling others your message, controlling the message; it’s broadcasting. Online collaboration and Web 2.0 is all about conversations. At the heart of good conversations is letting go, connecting and engaging with others. It’s through connection and engagement that innovation is spawned.

What story can you share about how people in your organization overcame the pain of a new idea?

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Photo credit: siebe!

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