Collaboration Strategy: The Key to Innovation

Last Updated Aug 31, 2007 4:44 PM EDT

collaboration.jpgBig Pharma's playing nice; at least five of the big players are collaborating with competitors, sharing intellectual property, splitting costs, and sharing proceeds of future drugs. Considering the challenges facing the industry at present -- competition from generic drugmakers, tough FDA regulations, and high costs associated with bringing a drug to market -- combining resources makes sense. According to researchers, it's also fosters innovation.

A recent Global CEO study found that 76 percent of CEOs think external collaboration is the key to innovation, whereas only 17 percent view internal R&D as the best source of new ideas. Despite good intentions, implementation appears to be a roadblock (which brings us back to that tricky question: how do you manage innovation?) The study listed four ideas for sharpening your company's innovation agenda:

  1. Think broadly, act personally and manage the innovation mix. Create and manage a broad mix of innovation that emphasizes business model change. When it comes to innovation, many CEOs still fall back on their traditional comfort zone: products/services/markets.
  2. Make your business model deeply different. Find ways to substantially change how you add value in your current industry, or in another. Look for ways to transform your core value proposition. Pay particular attention to ignored areas of the value chain where no one is actively innovating.
  3. Ignite innovation thorough business and technology integration. Use technology as an innovation catalyst by combining it with business and market insights. Technology can be a catalyst -- both to drive innovation and to enable it. It can play a vital part in new products, services, channels, market-entry strategies, operational transformation and industry-altering business models.
  4. Force an outside look -- every time. Leaders must force the outside look, pushing the organisation to work with outsiders more than insiders. Any new product or service concept, plans for new markets or operational and business model adjustments, be sure to ask where the external contribution is.
(Collaboration Model Image by Tom Purves)