Are good ideas being lost in your company? Is your organization facing increasing competition? Do you need your managers to be more innovative or entrepreneurial? We know that entrepreneurs and innovators are fast becoming the lifeblood of the economy – both in large and small businesses. However, innovation and entrepreneurship are not solo acts. It takes many ideas and different approaches to get a business or concept off the ground, and collaboration is vital. Implementing the type of cooperation it takes to make ideas flourish and businesses grow can be challenging, but putting in place some of the following can help in the process.
A “No Bad Ideas” Session
Sometimes, the best ideas are never developed because people are afraid of the reaction they’ll receive if their ideas are shared. When members of your team get together make an agreement not to shout down or dismiss any ideas. Instead create an open and safe forum for building on new concepts. The results can go much further than the original ideas that were presented.
Diversity Breeds Success
It is easy to build teams with likeminded managers. While it’s helpful to be on the same page, diverse thinking in an environment where all ideas are respected and discussed can lead to break through concepts and innovations. Presenting diverse ideas allows the best ideas to filter through. President Lincoln is known for compiling a cabinet full of members who disagreed so that he could listen to different sides of the issue and decide how to proceed. This same strategy is useful when cultivating innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Collaborative Mindset – seeing it in action
In May 2016, Renmin University, one of the top ranked universities in China, delivered the third module of the International Masters Program for Managers (IMPM), 10 days of workshops and lectures on how collaborative action helps businesses and individuals thrive. To experience what was happening in the classroom, participants on the IMPM visited Zhongguancun Inno Way, a unique community that is home to 40 “business incubators”. At Inno Way business owners and entrepreneurs have access to the resources they need to grow their start-ups, from human resources to financing to legal consultation and intellectual property assistance.
Upon their return to the classroom, IMPM participants discussed how to employ what they saw to their own organizations. Professors give guidance to these managers. In addition, in a collaborative process called “friendly consulting”, participants helped each other think through applications to each other’s organization. The combination of lectures, experience and consulting with each other, brought forward solutions to challenges many of the managers were facing back in their workplaces.
From the cabinet of President Lincoln to the experimental communities in China the evidence seems to speak for itself. Collaborative efforts do more in the way of innovation and entrepreneurship than lone wolf projects have ever been able to accomplish. Managers, entrepreneurs, inventors, collegiate departments, and other groups of creative and entrepreneurial individuals can take these lessons and apply them to their own endeavors, adding to the narrative of success by way of cooperation.