ILF Innovation News
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Dear Fellow Innovators,
We have been seeing an optimistic change in many organisations' mindset when it comes to collaboration. For many years, we heard that working together can lead to a big mess – too many misunderstandings, too much consensus, and too much convergent thinking. Lately, almost all of the work being done around the topic of innovation is highlighting the importance of collaboration. Why? For us it comes down to people understanding and valuing the outcome of diverse teams. For instance, collaboration increases the chances of associations and iterations between ideas that result in innovative solutions and combinations.    According to Robert Weisberg, author of Creativity: Understanding Innovation in Problem Solving, Science, Invention, and the Arts, innovative outcomes are a result of chains of connected ideas that flesh out the original thinking. And this is only possible through the connections and energy from a wide and multi-cultural group of people. 

So it is not really surprising that collaboration, crowdsoucing and ‘matchmaking’ platforms are springing up like mushrooms after full moon! Just in our little network we have representatives from those that are associated with opening up the crowd for problem solving such as NineSigma and Innocentive, more recently Innosabi, Hype and Hyve, to ones that allow finding the right people at the right point in time such as Bridgelight and MaxImpact. And not to forget Katerva which has set itself the goal of ‘accelerating the future’ by identifying, assessing and scaling sustainability-driving innovation. Being passionate about innovation, collaboration and sustainability and holding the belief of shaping the future rather than letting it happen to us, has led Bettina to get more involve in Katerva recently, helping to develop, bring together and engage Katerva’s diverse communities of innovators, spotters, experts, amplifiers, investors, and corporations.  Watch this space - and let us know if you too might like to get involved!

This topic of collaboration is indeed recurrent to the ILF: maybe you remember our piece about collaboration between councils to unlock local wealth, or Bettina's contribution to the Guardian on collaboration and why it is key to innovation, or even our insights on why collaborating with the competition can make business sense. We believe that there is a  universal need to learn to tame the competitive spirit in order to move forward, be it in the context of innovation specifically or the much broader context of humanity generally (The concept of ‘taming the competitive spirit’ has been explored by Bettina in the 4th Innovation Best Practice & Future Challenges Report from 2010). More recently we shared an article about the 5 C's of innovation ecosystems - Do we need to say that collaboration is one of them ;)?

Of course we cannot miss this opportunity to remind you that the ILF is all about collaborating across communities, in particular our networking group, Innovators Anonymous. Meeting four times a year we do deep-dives into hot topics such as big data, social media, and engagement, dissecting them through the innovation lens. Extensive write-ups ensure you can access the knowledge at a later time - and share it with other in your organisation. If this sounds interesting, we’d love to hear from you! Another piece connected to both collaboration and innovation is prototyping.  In the context of collaboration prototypes help create shared understanding, in the context of innovation they help visualise what does not (yet) exist.  Good enough reasons for us to organise study tour to explore the whole landscape of prototyping, from the accustomed products, to services, business models, and even the future. Is your diary free 14-16 October? Interested in joining us? Let us know.

As you can see, this is a very present topic at the ILF. Do you think your organisation has fully embrace it yet?

The ILF Friend, Ulrike Reinhard certainly has. She is an independent, dependable spirit with connections across and around the globe, a big heart, and endless courage to pursue the things she believes in. Ulrike and Bettina met 2012 at the d.confestival in Potsdam, Bettina chairing a session on new and exciting developments in the world of elementary schools, and Ulrike presenting her amazing we_school, a project she is running in India.  Bettina particularly loves her for her following statement: “I strongly believe that growth cannot be defined by pure economic number crunching – growth has to be defined by its social and environmental impact.” Her work with the we_school is truly inspiring and we highly recommend you check out Ulrike’s video. 
As we can learn from Ulrike's work, active citizenship, participation and collaboration are very important concepts when it comes to social impact. If you are interested in improving your understanding of how and why people participate, how their involvement changes over time, and what pathways, if any, exist between different activities, we recommend you reading a project titled Pathways through Participation. The project was funded by the Big Lottery Fund and led by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in partnership with the Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR) and Involve. Over two-and-a-half years they interviewed over 100 people across three localities – their stories of participation provide the powerful body of evidence drawn the report. 

Of course, collaboration is also at the heart of the organisation of one of the ILF’s other family members whom we have introduced a while ago, Petra Künkel, who has set up the Collective Leadership Institute in 2005. If asking the ‘indians’ to collaborate is not always easy, it tends to be even more difficult for ‘chiefs’ to truly collaborate - which is why we are particularly looking forward to Petra’s latest book “The Art of Leading Collectively” to be published later this year.

Collaboration of a different kind was discussed at Nesta’s recent LabWorks where David Halpern and Christian Bason took the stage to discuss about arts x sciences, once seen  opposites  approaches,  now, in the context of creativity and innovation, being recognised as being complementary. Design methods are powerful catalysts for innovation,  and they need legitimacy and value that comes from cross-disciplinary collaboration. You can read more about it here.  

We also believe that collaboration will change the way we organise the workplace, as does Chris Louhglan from the Cambridge Institute of Innovation. He will be exploring the topic of Leaderless Leadership at the next ILF Innovators Anonymous meeting 24th September. Bettina is a true believer of informal networks, experts databases and idea management as part of the future of leadership, you can read more about it here

Another example of collaboration, one that Bettina believes is characteristic for the younger generations - she has witnessed it at the last degree show of the Masters in Innovation Management at Central St Martins - is one where we can observe a shift from the focus of ‘me’ to a focus on ‘we’ - which clearly means managing the ego in a way that is somewhat different from what seems to be the currently dominant mindset ... instead of each individual graduate showing off their individual work, all graduates had, together, created five personas that represent the different facets of a future innovation manager.


All about taming the competitive spirit is a book by ILF Wider Community member Margaret Heffernan. In ‘The bigger prize’ Margaret shares a key discovery from her conversations with scientists, musicians, athletes, entrepreneurs and executives: “… around the world, individuals and organisations are finding creative, cooperative ways to work that don't pit people against each other but support them in their desire to work together. While the rest of the world remains mired in pitiless sniping, racing to the bottom, the future belongs to the people and companies who have learned that they are greater working together than against one another. Some call that soft but it's harder than anything they've done before. They are the real winners, sharing a bigger prize.”
Professor Venkat Ramaswamy and Francis Gouillart, co-founders and presidents of the Experience Co-Creation Partnership (ECC Partnership), are high advocates of the method of Co-Creation and have co-written the book Co-Creation: Build It with Them to Boost Growth, Productivity, and Profits. Their book  argues that the method of involving customers, employees and other company stakeholders in the development of systems, products, and services, means that companies are  more likely to achieve successful, innovative outcomes; it  also reduces business risks and improves efficiency as this approach avoids having to guess the wants, desires and needs of future users. 
If you are interested in managing cross-sector collaborations and would like to know more about its challenges and opportunities, we recommend Ben Jupp book: Working together Creating a better environment for cross-sector partnerships. Overall, he says that there are four process that are common to successful partnerships management. First, it is important to develop and state each participant’s clear objective and purpose. Secondly, it should be ensured that each partner gets tangible individual benefits as well as help to achieve the common goal. Thirdly, it is useful to have periodic reviews and evaluations of how things are progressing to secure an efficient performance. Fourthly, managers are responsible for enabling an understanding and a trustworthy relationship between partners. It is a fairly quick read and you can download it for free here


Following the theme of collaboration as a foster for innovation, we have come across a number of interesting events and courses that will be tackling the theme.

Here an opportunity to engage in collaboration that has been brought to our attention: "Code for the Kingdom Hackathon" which is a faith-inspired hackathon taking place 2nd - 4th October, this year in 13 locations worldwide: Addis Ababa, Albuquerque, Atlanta, Bengaluru, Dallas, Guatemala City, Jakarta, London, Los Angeles, Nairobi, Raleigh, Seattle, and Waterloo.
 The Intrapreneur Lab is a 3-day + 3-month accelerator-programme that helps individuals inside large companies develop profitable innovations that create social impact - and develop ‘intrapreneurial aptitudes' in the process. The Lab is a collaboration between Leadership Laboratories, Accenture and Business Fights Poverty and is held in business schools across the world - INSEAD in Singapore, Cornell in USA, Oxford in UK, & Gordon Institute of Business in S. Africa. The next Intrapreneur Lab is 19-21 October at the Said Business School in Oxford with 20 early-stage intrapreneurs and guest faculty from various large companies. Companies involved include Barclays, Mars, Pearson, Philips, GSK, Novartis, Cemex, Coca-Cola, BASF and Interface – many of whom are seeing tangible results in the form of profitable, social innovations arising from within the company…led by committed and driven intrapreneurs. More detail here.

Date: Wednesday, 30th of September, 2015
Location: Berlin
This discussion about collaboration, makes us wonder what would be the future of the workplace. Are you moving towards a more flat hierarchy? Or maybe certain things will take longer to change? This forum is for all those involved in the future of work and the workplace as well as real estate, technology and innovation. To find out more about this conference click here. Also, the whole ILF Community is entitled to 30% discount when booking this event through this link.
Wired 2015
Date: Thursday, 15th & Friday, 16th October, 2015
Location: London
The Wired team is always experimenting what is possible to arise from the collaboration of the most unimaginable combination of people. This year they are bringing together, song-writers, designers, bakers, Molecular-sensor inventor and many more. To learn more about this event, please click here.
The ILF Wider Community is entitles to a 10% discount on the ticket price with the code ILF10. Members of the ILF Innovators Anonymous should contact us for their special discount.
GIL 2015
Date: Thursday, 22nd of October, 2015
Location: Monaco
GIL 2015: Monaco is also bringing together a wide range of thought leaders to collaborate and teach how to leverage innovation as a resource to address global challenges. This year, they will share the Frost & Sullivan’s Best Practices Award recipients and their management teams. To learn more about this conference please click here or download the brochure. This is an invitation only event. Please get in touch with Pim to learn more.