The “Collaborate to Innovate” session was attended by around 40 people, mainly CEOs and people who are keenly interested in innovation and collaboration. I actually studied the subject as part of a research project at Documentum where I interviewed 50 of Documentum’s largest customers over an 18 month period on how they manage knowledge in their organizations and how that helps build the top line of their businesses. The session broke up into 6 groups supporting three different types of innovation models. The open source model is probably the best understood with open and transparent development driving changes from the community. The marketplace model uses the transaction process to allow employees and customers to engage in dialog and participate in the product / service development process. The Al Qaeda model is about using a core cell to distribute values and objectives to loosely cells that can act independently and freely to local conditions. All of these were compared and contrasted by the moderators that included Tim Brown , CEO of IDEO, the company that has designed everything from the Mac mouse to the Palm V to power tools and office furniture.
During the overview session, I didn’t realize that I was sitting just behind CK Prahalad, one of the greatest thinkers on the subject of innovation, strategy and core competence. When I realized this, I went to go to whatever group he was going to. Of course I should have gone to the group on the open source model, but I ended up in the group on marketplace innovation. CK explained to us that he thought that they were just stylizations of the same model, which makes sense to me. He is currently working on a new book that discusses the core model which has extended from an internal looking model focused on product to one that has expanded into services and ultimately solutions that incorporates channels and now the customer, which is becoming increasingly more powerful in the market and innovation processes. Dov Baharav, CEO of Amdocs, brought up a good point that your current customers are not necessarily going to take you to new markets. We discussed that perhaps that required identifying the types of customers that will lead you into the markets. In other words, this is the Innovator's Dilemma. This was reflected by Mark Penn, an adviser to Bill Clinton, Tony Blair in his last campaign and Hillary Clinton in her Senate bid, in espousing the concept of Micro-targeting.
The task given our group was to come up with a new product or service in the Leisure or Fashion industry. Bruce Nussbaum, Assistant Managing Editor of BusinessWeek, was also in the group, and suggested we address the games industry. I thought that was a great idea since the games industry is going through a major change with the new architectures, such as Xbox 360 and PS/3, required years to develop new games, long after an accompanying film has come and gone. CK had been thinking about this subject already talking about how Lord of the Rings put previews out on the web of how the story would be developed and solicited input from the public. He contrasted this with the secrecy of the DaVinci Code, which bombed in the box office. We then went on to develop the idea further to present to the whole group, creating the idea of a new company that would allow the users of games and viewers of the movie to participate in the create of both. Characters would be reused between games and movies and contributed by users. Those who contribute would profit from the financial rewards of the game and film through a royalty scheme. We all seemed pretty pleased with the idea.
It came time to present the results and out of all the workshops, this was the only one that I saw that had voting. There was a correspondent from CNBC moderating the presentations, and although it was entertaining, it was a pretty nerve racking prospect to get up and get judged by a bunch of CEOs. By far the best presentation was by Bernard Liautaud, Chairman of Business Objects and John Powell’s old boss, who presented a fashion company that used Al Qaeda style tactics to buy and sell fashion items designed by local cells using carbon credits. It was funny and actually compelling to watch.
I came up after that and for the first time in a long time, I was nervous presenting. Well, you try presenting in front of a bunch of power people like were in that audience. I got no votes. But at least the idea was vindicated in the end by the two experts Tim Brown and a Swiss Economics professor as an idea they really liked. This was the only session that had voting as part of a very fast session and I don’t recommend other groups do that.