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The Future of Collaboration in Innovation

Trends and Opportunities

The Future of Collaboration in Innovation

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In today’s rapidly changing world, innovation has become a key driver of success for businesses across all industries. However, the traditional model of innovation, where organizations rely solely on internal resources and expertise, is no longer sufficient. In order to stay ahead of the competition and drive impactful change, businesses must embrace collaboration as a fundamental aspect of their innovation strategy.

Collaboration in innovation involves working with external partners, such as other companies, research organizations, startups, and even customers, to share knowledge, expertise, and resources. By tapping into the collective brainpower of a diverse group of stakeholders, businesses can access new ideas, perspectives, and capabilities that can fuel their innovation efforts.

One of the key trends shaping the future of collaboration in innovation is the rise of open innovation platforms. These platforms, such as InnoCentive and NineSigma, provide a space where organizations can crowdsource solutions to their most pressing challenges by tapping into a global network of innovators. By leveraging these platforms, businesses can access a vast pool of talent and expertise that can help them solve complex problems and drive breakthrough innovation.

Another trend driving collaboration in innovation is the shift towards ecosystem-based innovation. Instead of relying solely on their internal resources, businesses are now looking to build ecosystems of partners, suppliers, and customers to co-create value and drive innovation. For example, companies like Procter & Gamble have successfully leveraged their open innovation ecosystem, Connect + Develop, to source new product ideas and technologies from external partners.

In order to illustrate the power of collaboration in innovation, let’s examine two case studies of companies that have successfully embraced this approach.

Case Study 1: LEGO

LEGO, the iconic toy company known for its colorful building blocks, has long been a pioneer in collaboration in innovation. In recent years, LEGO has partnered with a diverse range of external stakeholders, including customers, researchers, and even Hollywood studios, to drive innovation and create new products.

One of LEGO’s most successful collaborations has been with the online community LEGO Ideas. Through this platform, fans of the brand can submit their own ideas for new LEGO sets, which are then voted on by the community. If an idea receives enough votes, LEGO will work with the creator to turn it into a new product, sharing royalties with the original designer. This collaborative approach has not only led to the creation of popular sets like the LEGO Ideas Saturn V rocket but has also helped LEGO tap into the creativity and passion of its most dedicated fans.

Case Study 2: GE

General Electric (GE), a multinational conglomerate known for its diverse portfolio of products and services, has also embraced collaboration as a core part of its innovation strategy. In recent years, GE has partnered with startups, universities, and other companies to drive innovation in areas such as advanced manufacturing, energy, and healthcare.

One notable collaboration is GE’s partnership with the software company Quirky. Through this partnership, GE has leveraged Quirky’s online platform to crowdsource new product ideas from aspiring inventors. GE then works with the inventors to bring these ideas to market, helping them navigate the complexities of product development and distribution. This collaborative approach has not only resulted in the creation of innovative products like the Aros smart air conditioner but has also helped GE tap into new sources of creativity and innovation.


Collaboration in innovation is key to driving meaningful change and staying competitive in today’s fast-paced business environment. By embracing open innovation platforms, building ecosystems of partners, and collaborating with external stakeholders, businesses can access new ideas, perspectives, and capabilities that can fuel their innovation efforts. The future of collaboration in innovation is bright, filled with exciting opportunities for businesses to drive impactful change and create value for their customers.

SPECIAL BONUS: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Unsplash

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Is GE Trying to be Too Quirky?

Is GE Trying to be Too Quirky?

Last week GE and Quirky announced a new partnership where GE will make some of its library of patents available as part of Quirky’s new inspiration platform, allowing inventors to use some of its patents in their potentially novel consumer product invention ideas. This on its surface is a very interesting and logical open innovation partnership. Some people are talking about it as a crowdsourcing partnership, but it isn’t really because the work product is not well-defined and being sourced from multiple competing providers. No, this is an open innovation partnership.

Here is the Quirky and GE partnership announcement video:

It is very interesting to me that GE chose to partner with Quirky and not someone like Innocentive, NineSigma, Idea Connection or someone else. I’m curious what others think this indicates about the future of these firms. Personally, I think that this is something that Quirky is better equipped to make happen than these other firms, and that Innocentive and others still fill an important need using a completely different approach (challenge-driven innovation).

Is GE Trying to be Too Quirky?

Whether or not GE creates any sizable new businesses from their participation in this partnership, I still think this is a brilliant marketing move by Beth and her team and it will be interesting to see whether any impactful inventions come from people leveraging GE’s patent portfolio.

Here is Quirky’s video announcing their inspiration platform (which they raised $68 million to help build):

There is one thing that bugs me a wee bit about Quirky. My tagline since 2006 has been “Making innovation insights accessible for the greater good” and it feels like they’ve swiped it to create theirs – “Making invention accessible.” Surely as creative people they could have invented their own tagline instead of swiping mine. 😉 (wink)

But, there is another idea of mine trapped in this announcement that I’d like to highlight and set free, and that is the idea that innovation is not just about ideas, but that other factors are equally important – including inspiration, investigation, and iteration. These are captured in my incredibly popular Eight I’s of Infinite Innovation framework.

Eight I's of Infinite Innovation

Be sure and follow this article link to the Eight I’s of Infinite Innovation if you missed the link above, or if you’re not clicking away to learn more, here is a quick list of the eight stages:

  1. Inspiration
  2. Investigation
  3. Ideation
  4. Iteration
  5. Identification
  6. Implementation
  7. Illumination
  8. Installation

Personally I don’t think their platform appears to go far enough to deliver inspiration or to empower investigation, and as a software and internet guy I would be happy to help Quirky and GE strengthen the solution if they’re interested in making this platform more successful.

Will any successful innovations come out of this GE and Quirky partnership?

I’d love to hear what you think.

Image credits: GE, Quirky

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