Collaborative Innovation

Your added value =
The size of the pie when you are in the game
The size of the pie when you are out of the game

B.J. Nalebuff & A.M. Brandenburger


Traditional Innovation Management focuses on how to organize as a private company the internal processes, like roadmapping, programming, competence development, value proposition and technology development.

However, in the last three decades business have organized themselves in networks and there is a lot more interaction with the outside world to be managed in innovation.

It is thanks to Nalebuff and Brandenburger, who have been redefining terms like added value and competitors Also they have invented new terms, like complementor.

In this way, interactions with public organisations, regional and global industrial associations, NGO’s, media and the general public can be embedded in one strategic approach towards innovation. This is absolutely necessary to cope with the challenges of today.

Modern Innovation management implies to lead a collaborative network of internal and external actors to create and deliver new added value (additional pie) to its eco-system.

The more added value a player has, the more power it has to influence the network towards its ambitions.

A comprehensive overview of the  challenges of Innovation Management (for private companies) is described by  Prahalad & Hamel in  “Competing for the Future” (1990). With a twist, this is still a useful overview.

Prahalad & Hamel’s weak point in this concept is that in their approach this is a top-down process.

My experience is that strategy development in renewal is much more bottom-up and fluid. Innovation has characteristics of self-organisation.

Therefore, like in the old days, it is still people centric – Developing purpose, growing mastery of people and allow autonomy are still critical success factors to create a vibrant and creative culture.

Managing innovative networks feels like gardening. The grass decides whether it wants to grow and in what direction, the gardener can provide seeds, water, conditions for light and warmth, fertilizer, soil or regroup plants, but then he has to wait and see what happens. Like the gardener, the innovation manager is making  minimal high impact interventions to sustain the self-organisation power of innovative organisation and still make it develop coherently with the rest of the network.