Category: Innovative culture

Fostering culture of innovation: practices, benefits and case studies

Business model innovationCo-creationCulture changeInnovationInnovative culture

Building a culture of innovation: key strategies

Following with the previous article on the key attitudes for building a culture of innovation, this is to explain the strategies that make innovation thrive within the organization. First of all, leaders have to be committed, walk their talk, encourage risk-taking and unconventional thinking, and push people to explore beyond their comfort zone. The leaders’ behavior is the main key success factor in the development of a new culture, as they shape others’ behaviors. Many strategies can contribute in building an innovative culture:

  • Embracing innovation at the leadership level. Assume that innovation is a key driver of the corporate strategy that needs to be fostered throughout the organization. Reflect on attitudes to promote or to change for the leaders to engage management levels.
  • Identifying new potential leaders. Look for individuals who already act, to some extent, as network brokers and improve their coaching and leadership skills so they can further improve the performance of other people involved in innovation tasks. Give them recognition and further empowerment to lead innovation projects to set an example for the rest.
  • Creating opportunities for quick success. Especially at the beginning, it is good to have some innovation projects which are likely to be successful in the short term, so as to make people see positive results and boost engagement. A first positive experience is critical to get them involved in an innovative culture.
  • Providing a sense of empowerment. Everybody needs to know that it is encouraged to question current practices and to bring in fresh new ideas, for which they are to be rewarded. Ultimately, listening to a wider range of insights than you normally hear is the key to promoting original thinking. Everybody’s contribution should be welcome.
  • Defining the innovation goals and strategy. Choose the innovation that drives growth and helps meet strategic objectives, communicating clearly the expected outcomes. When senior executives ask for innovation in the gathering of consumer insights, the delivery of services, or the consumer experience, they tell employees the type of innovation they expect.
  • Setting innovation performance metrics. Performance indicators should encompass mainly financial and behavioral metrics. They can also set metrics to foster outsourcing ideas, like requiring a minimum of ideas from outer sources or other innovation friendly behaviors.
  • Designing innovation networks. Since new ideas spur more new ideas, networks generate a cycle of innovation. By focusing on getting the most from innovation networks, leaders can therefore capture more value from existing resources. Decentralizing networks enhances collaboration and performance for the innovation challenges.
  • Creating a culture of originality. Many people are capable of creating new ideas, although they need the right environment to do so. By giving employees opportunities and incentives to generate new ideas and setting a meritocratic system, considering the top performers’ opinion for the evaluation of new ideas, organizations boost their innovation performance.
  • Cultivating cohesion and dissent. Make dissent one of your organization’s core values. Create an environment where people can openly share critical opinions and are respected for doing so. Despite sounding contradictory, a combination of the two is what brings novel ideas to the table while keeping enough harmony in the organization to facilitate cooperation.
  • Prioritizing organizational values. Give people a framework for choosing between conflicting opinions and allowing the best ideas to win out. Values need to be rank-ordered so that when employees face choices between competing options, they know what goes first.
  • Leveraging incoming talent. Empower and encourage new hires to challenge “the company way”, so as to bring a new perspective. Their experience may bring in new ideas and approaches, and also contribute to broaden other employees’ mind. It is interesting to hire talent coming not only from competitors but also from other innovative industries.
  • Mentoring participants to broaden their mind. Innovative thinking requires open mindset to start. This is not only necessary for the innovators themselves, but also for the rest of the organization, to prevent them from becoming innovation anti-champions and sabotage innovation efforts. This mentoring is to make them consider innovation positive for them too.
  • Educating in the tolerance to failure. Embracing failure is an unavoidable step to succeed in any venture, and so it is for the innovation efforts. Many cultures regard failure as a shameful fact in the performance track record, but organizations focused on and successful with their innovation efforts embrace failure as a natural part of the process.
  • Creating an incentive system. This is a key strategy to creating trust and engagement. It should not only reward all participants according to their contribution, but also create a framework to build contributors’ reputation, which is eventually taken into account when choosing the appropriate team members for certain projects or to decide upon promotions.
  • Manage innovation inhibitors. Fear of failure, vertical hierarchy, mistrust and fearful environment, rewarding short-term performance over long-term oriented plans, closeness to new approaches are –among others- cultural attributes that prevent innovation from thriving. Incentive systems oriented towards these behaviors are usually one of the main inhibitors.

Beyond the strategies to create a culture of innovation, leaders need to bear in mind that the key mindsets to build such culture are trust and engagement. As Steven Covey noted, “trust is not some soft, illusive quality that you either have or you don’t; rather, trust is a pragmatic, tangible, actionable asset that you can create –much faster than you probably think possible”. Developing and nurturing trust within your organization is likely to lead to more efficiency, improved teamwork and a better work environment. There are many courses of action that may contribute to building trust among the members of the organization:

  • Demonstrate trust through employee empowerment. Articulating the corporate values is necessary, but consistently living those values by walking your talk is what actually builds trust. Empowering employees is an actionable and impactful way to show your trust in them.
  • Commit to transparency and communication. Honest and open communication also helps in building trust. Be sure that your organization has an effective way to share information with employees and be transparent with them as well when they demand it.
  • Create systems for failure. You want your employees to be active and take initiative. So long as failures are unavoidable at some point, it is important that those who take initiative do not fear it, but rather take the opportunity to learn from every failure to leap forward.

Apart from trust, engagement is another key mindset to develop in order to reach high performance, both in terms of innovation outcomes and in the overall results.

This article is from the Whitepaper “Building a culture of collaboration and innovation” written by Jordi Pera, Founder and CEO at Envisioning Tourism 3.0 Ltd. You may download for free the full Whitepaper at www.envisioningtourism.com/whitepapers

Business model innovationCo-creationCulture changeInnovationInnovative culture

Building a culture of innovation: key attitudes

Besides the building of a collaborative culture, destinations 3.0 need also to create a culture of innovation, where not only openness to new ideas is a key shared value, but also the aim for integrating new concepts and approaches into the model is encouraged and all stakeholders are empowered to participate in the innovation process. Managers and employees broadly agree about the values and behaviors that foster innovation.

In accordance with our research, the top attitudes are openness to new ideas and a willingness to experiment and take risks. In an innovative culture, people know that their ideas are valued and believe that it is safe to express them and act on those ideas, and to learn from failure. Leaders reinforce this state of mind by involving employees in decisions that matter to them.

It is broadly thought as well that organizations usually have the right talent or most of what they need, but that the corporate culture is the main inhibitor that prevents them from innovating. Defining and creating the right kind of culture is therefore a must to increase the prospects for successful and sustained innovation.

The top two motivators that promote innovation within an organization are strong leaders who encourage and protect it, and top executives who spend their time actively managing and driving it. Further, an innovation friendly organization should rather have a horizontal hierarchy, allowing all employees and partners to easily access leaders, who are to inspire and influence them through role modelling as disruptive innovators to open their mindsets towards a new set of attitudes:

  • Questioning by allowing them to challenge the usual assumptions and the status quo to consider new possibilities: What has changed with our stakeholders, or the world at large? What assumptions are we still making about our business that may no longer be valid”?
  • Observing how things work in other kinds of businesses, which opens your mind to new possibilities. It also enables you to spot new patterns and connections that others might not see – a critical factor for successful innovation.
  • Networking and permitting to gain radically different perspectives from individuals with diverse industry or cultural backgrounds. Connecting with different realities is critical to open one’s mindset, and this is a necessary step towards fostering an innovative culture.
  • Experimenting and testing new ideas. Resisting time pressure for quick solutions is the first step, so it is better to think about new solutions before time is pressing. Once the underlying assumptions are challenged, it’s time to try new combinations and procedures.
  • Associational Thinking— drawing connections between questions, problems, or ideas from unrelated fields—is triggered by questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting, and is the catalyst for creativity.

Beyond these key attitudes to ingrain in order to foster innovation, an upcoming blogpost is to explain the key strategies to deploy in order to make that happen.

This article is from the Whitepaper “Building a culture of collaboration and innovation” written by Jordi Pera, Founder and CEO at Envisioning Tourism 3.0 Ltd. You may download for free the full Whitepaper at www.envisioningtourism.com/whitepapers

Business model innovationCo-creationInnovationInnovative cultureMarketing 3.0

Ferran Adrià + Cirque du Soleil: a creative collision brings a paradigm shift in entertainment and cuisine

When creative minds collide, the most innovative outcome could be expected. Especially, if partners share common passions, values and a craving for challenges. For more than 10 years, the world-famous chefs Albert and Ferran Adrià and Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil, have been sharing ideas on the concept for a new space meant to be a paradigm shift in the world of entertainment, cuisine and art. The result is an international and multidisciplinary project called HEART, which finally has opened doors this summer on the Spanish island of Ibiza.

Certainly, Adrià brothers need nobody to open successfully any new restaurant concept. Neither Cirque du Soleil required anyone else to offer once more a new and unique high-quality artistic entertainment. Albert and Ferran Adrià can be regarded the most well-known brothers in the world of gastronomy, spirit and soul of restaurant elBulli, considered a before-and-after of modern cuisine. Since its beginnings in 1984, Cirque du Soleil shows have thrilled close to 150 million spectators in over 300 cities on six continents.

But HEART seeks to explore what happens when food, music, and art collide and exploration is something you are always better doing accompanied. Secondly, if you excel in one of the components of a mix, why not to look for somebody else that also stands out in the rest of the ingredients? Of course, there is also the multiplier effect of co-branding two well known and highly appreciated names in their respective areas (a good idea even considering not just companies but also personal brands, as we have already seen in some other cases)

The creative partnership is born with good signals. At least as a Co-project. Over the years,  el Bulli was always an incubator for new ideas anyway. Adrià brothers are already embarked in some others projects, most of them involving somehow a “creative collision” too. In addition to shows, the Cirque du Soleil Group is already used to extend its creative talent to other spheres of activity. It is expected then to bring to HEART the same energy and spirit that characterize each of its shows.

This article is from  www.co-society.com/ferran-adria-cirque-du-soleil-creative-collision-brings-paradigm-shift-entertainment-cuisine

Co-creationCulture changeInnovationInnovative cultureMarketing 3.0

The Impact of Social Media on Creativity

GigaOm recently published a great piece on discussing the impact of social media on creativity, citing the John Mayer’s tribulations with Twitter as their prime example:

http://gigaom.com/2011/07/19/does-using-social-media-interfere-with-creativity/

Although I definitely think a discussion around “distraction” is worth a few sentences, I don’t think it’s fair to make blatant statements about social media and creativity. Creativity can be inspired by the most unexpected of things. Perhaps it’s less so for musicians, but as a writer I often find inspiration in the most unlikely of places including tweets and status updates. One could argue that reading is not the same as posting and I would agree but there are many times when posting triggers responses that provide inspiration. I also conjecture that distraction is not necessarily a bad thing for art either.

There are times when focus is needed. I don’t want people talking at me or email dinging or tweets flying when I am head down on a piece. But there are other times when the distraction is welcome, when the creative process has stalled enough that distraction can provide the impetus to new inspiration. What is interesting about GigaOm’s piece is Mayer’s fixation on distraction. It became the primary focus rather than the distraction (perhaps his songwriting and tweeting switched places, and songwriting became the distraction).

Regardless, that is an individual artist’s issue, not necessarily an epidemic for artists as a whole. In fact, one would begin to wonder if John was looking for a way to avoid his art and saw Tweeting and social media as an easy distraction. But social network does embody something very intrinsic to the artist: the need to be at the center of things. Although some artists may not agree, saying they produce art for art’s sake, I argue that’s a rouse. The only point of art is for people to enjoy and appreciate it and, by doing so, the artist. If people are listening to your songs, what’s the point of writing them? This need to be loved, to have the attention of people, is endemic to the artist’s condition, his reason d’etre.

Unfortunately, as I have written before, being an author (or artist) will be tougher as time goes on because getting the attention for one’s art will become more difficult in the constant flow of tweets and status updates. That will require artists to adopt new means of connecting with their fans (i.e., social networking) especially when there will be fewer opportunities for traditional media promotion (i.e., agents). It may be interesting to see the rise of “social networking managers” to help the artist deal with and manage their tweets and other social feeds. This new requirement to connect with fans to promote art is simply another aspect of the “business” of being an artist that needs to be managed accordingly.

Social networking, as a whole, thought is a distraction to life. It interrupts work, it interrupts thoughts, it interrupts conversations and television shows. But it poses no more a threat to creativity than any other form of distraction including all of the other business aspects of being an artist (or at least trying to make a living at it).

www.rethinkeverythingblog.com/2017/12/20/the-impat-of-social-media-on-creativity/

Collaborative cultureCulture changeInnovative cultureMarketing 3.0

Why is it convenient to develop a new culture?

Developing destinations 3.0 entails leveraging stakeholders’ creativity, connections and workforce, as a key competitive advantage over standard destinations. This leveraging can only be achieved through the development of a new culture based on collaboration and innovation. Building a new business model as well as an open innovation system can only be done successfully ingraining new behaviors in the stakeholder system: trust, cooperation, openness to new approaches and search for new ideas are key behaviors to develop.

Creating this new culture will require a previous diagnosis on which cultural inhibitors are rooted in their mindsets, to open their minds and change their attitudes towards a new approach. Then, the success in building a culture of collaboration and innovation will need the appropriate leadership and a supporting system that rewards contributors according to the new cultural values.

Other key success factors in the culture change are the enthusiasm and trust in the vision and mission statements as a result of the community members’ participation and effective communication, as well as the local culture itself, considering its level of trust, cooperation and openness to new ideas. On this point, it is interesting to remark that mission driven purposes are those that naturally motivate the most contribution and cooperation among humankind.

Before going ahead, it is convenient to define what culture is. Among the many definitions, there are two which define it quite accurately:

  • Group norms of behavior and underlying shared values that help keep those norms in place.
  • Values and characteristic set of behaviors that define how things get done in an organization.

It is also necessary to be aware that, beyond our efforts in building a better culture according to our mission, there are many reasons or forces that can make it degrade over time as a result of major restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, and frequent changes in leadership at the corporate level. The most typical cases are the three following:

1) Growth dilutes the initial culture. As the business experiences growth and so the organization expands, the culture that made the business begin successfully and grow faces the risk of being diluted by the new hires, especially those who work away from the leadership team, for instance in far-away geographical locations. That said it is also possible that the new executives bring in a positive change and innovative ideas, but in any case it is convenient to take measures to preserve the corporate culture core essence that allowed the business to succeed up to the present stage.

2) Continuous growth & transformation burns people out. Non-stop growth and the tension derived from it are a serious threat to employees’ sustained engagement and commitment, and therefore put their performance at risk. To avoid burning out the workforce it is necessary to understand business growth as a marathon run instead of a sprint. That means that there have to be rest cycles in between the periods of fastest growth in order to recharge energy, celebrate the achieved successes and consolidate the new achievements to ensure that they are to be long-lasting.

3) Complacency. This is one of the most dangerous enemies of culture. As a result of achieving good results and the desired level of well-being, it is usual for many people to relax and over-rely on their capacities and chances for sustained success. So long as the business environment keeps on changing over time, the business has to keep on adapting to these changes and therefore has little or no time to relax on the competition. Only those businesses that continue to adapt to evolutionary changes in their environment will thrive.

Beyond the causes of culture degradation, it is convenient to know how to identify the need for organizational culture change. There are five key questions that may orient us in this regard:

  • Is there a growing sentiment that your culture is an obstacle for achieving your goals?
  • Has there been a change in strategy? Is your current culture aligned with your strategy?
  • Are you considering or involved in a merger? Are the two organisational cultures aligned?
  • Are you engaged in a transformation? Are the behaviors required to deliver results in place?
  • Are you struggling to drive higher levels of productivity?

Organizations are quite unlikely to sustain a good performance without the right culture according to the strategy that is being implemented, and the right culture does not develop unless the context or system encourages the desired behaviors that define this culture. Culture change is a necessary and key factor for business success in the aforementioned cases.

In the case of Destinations 3.0 the need for a leap forward in increasing competitiveness inevitably demands a shift towards a culture collaboration and innovation, which eventually should deliver many payoffs. First, this is what nurtures the model’s competitive advantage, its capacity to continually reinvent itself, and develop life-changing experiences and compelling stories that engage stakeholders to pursue the mission. Empowering and stimulating participation from different kinds of stakeholders brings new insights to obtain a holistic vision of the model ecosystem which makes it possible to revamp the model with less iterations, hence shortening the change periods and smoothing the innovation process.

Secondly, the values-driven culture itself attracts like-minded and talented stakeholders, who ultimately are the greatest asset of the destination model, as long as they engage with the mission and become active innovators and brand ambassadors. Models defending their values and their mission over the short term profits gain admiration from these like-minded stakeholders, managing to engage them with full commitment. Such engagement is what makes them deliver authentic experiences according to the brand stories.

Finally, as a consequence of the first two, such culture leads –at least in the long term- the model to outperform its competitors who have not developed such powerful culture. So long as human spirit driven motivations spur most of everyone’s creativity and engagement, this is what ultimately maximizes the outcome in terms of mission accomplishment and value provided to the tourists.

Among the stakeholders, the model should pay special attention to its employees, by building a values-driven culture that guides them to live up to the brand mission, providing them with the same value-driven experience they are to provide to the final customers, turning them into brand ambassadors and life-transforming agents to the customers, delivering value in accordance with the stories. This requires the maximum integrity and good leadership from the platform’s executives, demonstrating these values through everyday behavior.

To involve all stakeholders, it is necessary to make them feel empowered, supported and eventually rewarded to take the lead in any initiative aligned with the mission. In the first stage, the local stakeholders have to be empowered to participate in the mission definition. This is critical to get them engaged. Then, the collaborative platform is likely to attract many other stakeholders identified with the mission who are also willing to show their capacity to make a difference, joining efforts to move the business towards the mission accomplishment.

This blog post is from the Whitepaper “Building a culture of collaboration and innovation”, freely downloadable in this weblog. You may check the Whitepaper’s references to know the sources used for its elaboration.

Co-creationCollaborative cultureCulture changeInnovative cultureOpen innovation

Shared decisions feel better

 “The social networks potential to turn every citizen into an agent for the improvement of the community is huge” says Alfons Cornella –Spanish Innovation leader- in his book “The solution starts by CO”.

During the last few years it has become fashionable that destinations outsource part of their promotion activities to visitors and local community members. In what could be called co-creation processes, many destination management and promotion bodies have decided to celebrate public elections to select their logos and slogans. In this election there is first a period to receive proposals, and at the end of this period the public election takes place.

At first it may sound very open and transparent. So long as both the logo and the slogan are to become key elements of the destination image, it is good that everybody can express their opinion about it. However, this system may entail some risks. Those who vote probably choose their vote according to purely esthetic criteria, without considering aspects related with the value promise of the destination, or its desired positioning, the targets, etc. As a result of these processes there have been some bad experiences.

The main issue is that the chosen logo and/or slogan should be in accordance with the destination strategy, which is usually defined in a Strategy Plan according to the destination leaders’ criteria. It is therefore necessary to introduce a filtering phase either before or after the public election, to discard all those logos and slogans that do not match with the destination strategy.

In Spain there has been mainly one experience of this kind, in the Basque Country, driven by the Bilbao City Council and the Bizkaia Province Government. These two institutions had been collaborating for a long time, up to the point that they shared a stand in the FITUR Tourism Fair under the brand BI2. In this way, they wanted to leverage the power of the Bilbao brand to favor also the rest of the Province, so long as the Bizkaia brand is far behind in terms of awareness, despite the worthy resources it has. Bilbao, in turn, has experienced a transformation thanks to the Guggenheim effect and the public-private collaboration, which has led to a sustained visitors’ growth in the city.

Deepening in this collaboration line, they have launched a contest to select their new common logo and slogan. In this case, they opened a public contest for professionals under a detailed briefing. As a result of this idea contest, they received up to 84 proposals from 7 different countries. They were all exposed to the public, though the first selection process was carried out by a commission of experts to present 10 final proposals to be voted for by the public. To facilitate participation, they have installed 6 voting points to let locals vote for their favourite choice.

However, the citizens’ votes will count for only 20% of the final decision. The rest will be responsibility of the experts committee led by Garry White, President of the European Cities Marketing Association.

What do you thing about letting the locals vote for strategic decisions of high symbolic value?

This blogpost is from  http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/las-decisiones-compartidas-saben-mejor/

Business trendsCulture changeInnovative culture

Human digital tourism

Are you a human e-leader? Europe is working to develop more professional profiles that improve their competitiveness and productivity over the long term, focusing on developing attitudes and skills related to humanism, competitiveness and innovation.

Based on a research survey carried out in 2012 by IDC and INSEAD for the European Commission’s Directorate General Enterprise and Industry, named “e-Skills for Competitiveness and Innovation”, it works to visualize the future scenarios that we are likely to face and the challenges that we are likely to tackle.

The focus is on developing social and personal skills, as well as technical and business entrepreneurship capacities in an ongoing way, thus to make human e-leaders. The report explains that Europe has to take advantage of the opportunities in fields such as innovation, new technologies and emerging markets, new ways of managing productivity, etc. without stopping growth.

At present, digital economy makes it obvious that investing in ICT is necessary. However, it is also necessary to have human resources up to date with training to manage and optimally leverage these technologies. Managers, entrepreneurs, and business executives must have e-competences to grow, export and be connected to the global digital markets. In a digital economy, e-leadership skills are essential. —Michel Catinat, Head of Unit “Key Enabling Technologies and ICT” at DG Enterprise and Industry, European Commission.

Taking this reflection and the survey results to the tourism industry I foresee that we have to develop a strategy, skills and tools with the digital component in the center, connected to each of these concepts. The tourism industry, through its destination managers such as DMOs and businesses should lead the digital tourism development. This industry, more than ever before, needs e-leaders to orient the good practices of the industry as long as it grows rapidly and is sensitive to all changes and advancements in digitalization.

Digital tourism needs to generate a human resources solid base ready for the digital era, who are not only technically competent but also skilled for human relations through the social networks. At the same time, it is necessary to develop adequate profiles, retain them to let them consolidate their expertise and let them co-create with each other.

According to the mentioned survey, the demand for positions with technological skills will gain importance, and they will be hunted for medium and top managing positions, rather than in supporting and operational levels. E-leaders are expected to be the main drivers of productivity, and so the quantity and quality of those e-leaders is a key asset for an economy to compete.

Nowadays we all try to do more with lesser resources, by reinventing ourselves, the organizational structures, the business model and the strategy we develop to compete. Are we going to be capable of managing and leading teams while mastering the new technological systems to meet both the local and the global demands?

The survey also summarizes the main differences between leaders and bosses considering several issues related to the digital field:

BOSS E-LEADER
The boss manages The leader innovates and starts up
The boss maintains The leader develops
The boss focuses on systems and structures The leader focuses on people
The boss relies on control The leader inspires confidence
The boss asks why and when The leader asks what and for what
The boss does things well The leader does the right thing

If we look at the right hand side column, we can see words such as inspire, develop, people, confidence, etc. The difference is mainly that the words referring to e-leaders are to humanize the relationships between the different levels of the hierarchy.

This blogpost is from  http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/turismo-digital/

Marketing 3.0Collaborative business modelsInnovative cultureCollaborative cultureCo-creation

Making collaboration efficient when face to face is not possible

As it has been explained in many posts, content and product co-creation is in the core of Marketing 3.0, though to leverage a significant share of the stakeholders’ creativity potential it is necessary to think of virtual co-creation methods, to complement co-creation workshops and other face to face activities. However, beyond the technological tools such as video-conference, it is necessary to know how to manage virtual co-creation. This article provides many clues to do so successfully.

Started as a simple experiment in social media, in 2010 composer and conductor Eric Whitacre called out to his online fans to record themselves singing “Sleep” by the British choir Polyphony and upload the result. Impressed by the result, he decided to push the concept to the next level by recording himself conducting ‘Lux Aurumque’, then asking fans to sing along to that. This way, the first Virtual Choir was created. The results of that experiment quickly became viral. Now with more than fifteen million views, the Virtual Choir phenomenon has reached all corners of the world, inspiring more and more singers to join each year.

Beyond its beauty and emotional impact, Virtual Choir also fascinated because its implications regarding the potential new uses for new communication technologies and as one of the first virtual experiences turned into something real. The Virtual Choir can also be considered as an important remainder for how businesses might overcome the challenges of virtuality to benefit from innovative and more efficient business processes, customer relationships or forms of production, from co-innovation and co-production to crowdsourcing, crowdfunding or open source.

Not even leaving the limits of a corporation or a company, working remotely can offer operational flexibility, happier employees and lower costs, but to team up virtually with colleagues and coworkers can also pose important challenges. As we know, truly efficient collaboration presents no few difficulties. Virtual collaboration raises even more added complications that require even more care. But as the concept of the extended enterprise becomes more common and most professionals can do their jobs from anywhere, the more critical becomes to get virtual teams right. But how?

Getting right four pillars for virtual collaboration

The answer is not easy. Different studies carried out during the last decade seem to conclude that most of virtual groups fail to satisfy the expectations of companies and their clients. In another study conducted by Deloitte some years ago most of CEO’s and other managers interviewed still considered face-to-face interaction much more productive that virtual communication, and nearly half of them admitted ignorance and confusion about collaboration technologies and their potential.

But some other experts consider is all about how these teams are managed. An Aon Consulting report found that dispersed teams, when run accordingly to this condition, could outperform those sharing the same office space (recording up to 43% higher efficiency). A study of 80 global software teams conducted by BCG and WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management concluded that virtual teams can improve employee productivity when they are properly managed.

But, what do they mean by “properly managed” or “run accordingly to its virtual condition”? According to Keith Ferrazzi and based on his research and experience helping all sort of organizations as customers of his consulting firm, there are four critical elements to get right: right teams, right leadership, right technology and right touch points.

Size is important (the smaller, the better)

We have recently wrote in this blog about how important is to consider people mindset and attitude for working collaboratively beyond their professional knowledge and other skills. Ferrazzi agrees people should first of all be specially suited to work in virtual teams, backing for instance profiles with good communication skills or high emotional intelligence. But it is also equally important to put them into groups of the right size and implementing and clearly establishing and communicating the right roles for each one.

As we know, smaller groups facilitate collaboration. In the case of virtual teams, size should be even smaller than when face to face interaction is the norm (some studies suggest teams of 5-6 people and no more than 10 in any case). Team members reduce effort when they feel less responsible for output, but this fact can equally be applied to non-virtual teams. Collaboration between people not sharing a physical space should pay special attention to ensure inclusive communication, a quality harder to achieve the bigger the virtual group is.

Good leadership amplified

Managers can maximize the productivity of virtual teams also by developing the right leadership. Again, this is a quality to apply to every teamwork, no matter if virtual or not. But right leadership must be amplified in virtual ones. A study of different engineering groups concluded that the virtual teams that performed best were those with managers with previous experience in leading such work groups.

Encouraging open dialogue, for instance, is particularly important in these cases. Leaders of dispersed groups in particular must push members to be frank with one another as the problems associated with lack of affinity are more common and severe for virtual teams. For similar reasons, virtual collaboration requires an extra effort fostering trust among co-workers. Ferrazzi mentions the case of a fully virtual organization that encourage new hires to offer video tours of their work spaces, allowing colleagues to mentally picturing their surroundings in later communications. Managers also push their team members to share personal news as a way to compensate the lack of the common chat about their lives that usually takes place sooner or later when a physical office is shared.

Special care is also recommended about clarifying goals and guidelines and establishing a common purpose or vision (explaining and repeating often the reason of working together and the benefits that will result of that). Particularly vital in the case of virtual teams are guidelines about interaction between members. For instance, multitasking on conference calls should be banned, as full attention is needed when using communication technologies that are not able to fully replace the subtle signals of personal interaction beyond a voice.

Not leaving it all to virtuality

Fostering touch points is also critical. Virtual teams should come together as often as possible. To do so, some specific stages of the working process are more important than others. Kickoff should be one of these for sure, using a first face to face meeting to star working in some of the key points mentioned (clarifying team goals or encouraging trust, for instance). If any proper project management establishes milestones, when dealing with virtual team leaders can leverage them to get people together for celebrating achievement of short-term goals or cracking problems.

And last but not least, efficient virtual collaboration also depends on using the right technology. According to Ferrazzi, even top-notch virtual teams can fail due to poor technology. In this case, recommendations are not so much about detailed features as about fulfilling general needs especially critical in the case virtual interactions. For instance, facilitating automatic transcriptions or records with a simple click, making easy to search for this content in a database or, while using the right tool for each mission, favor technologies that better help to reproduce face to face interaction (videoconferencing instead of a phone call, for example).

This post is from http://www.co-society.com/making-collaboration-efficient-face-face-possible/

Co-creationCulture changeInnovative culture

The kind of leadership that is music for our ears

Symphony orchestras are the paradigm of traditional autocratic driven organizations, where creativity is severely constrained, thus impeding the musicians to unfold their talent to the utmost. However, Chamber orchestras are a good example of how a smaller group of talented members can cooperate while having free reign to develop their creativity, under a very different leadership style. This article explains a case study that illustrates how Chamber orchestra leadership is appropriate for creative collaboration.

When cellist Julian Fifer graduated from her music studies in 1972, the prospect of becoming another member of a symphony orchestra seemed depressing in the extreme to her. Active in several movements of those counter-culture days and having tasted the freedom of playing chamber music, she was well aware that the role of the music director remained a bastion of totalitarianism and, as organizations go, few were more autocratic in structure than the traditional symphony orchestra.

So she decided to create Orpheus Orchestra as a co-operative 15-members ensemble. That was small enough to perform without a conductor. But it was precisely this innovative approach what attracted other talented like-minded musicians, as well as more concerts and gigs. Suddenly it was obvious that some hierarchy was necessary to reduce complexity and speed decision-making. But this leadership was not to be found by having a conductor, so a new collaboration methodology started to take place.

Today, this methodology is been dubbed as the “Orpheus process”, a process based in some elements that can inspire us when trying to establish a new more collaborative way to work together, the kind of methodology needed for a successful collaborative environment not just to work with some other companies but also internally within our own organization between different units, departments or roles.

The orchestra analogy is not trivial. It turns out orchestral musicians usually rank in the lowest levels of job satisfaction according to different studies on attitudes in the workforce (in one of these studies they even ranked below prison guards). Even under the most benign music director, the creative life of symphony orchestra players remains considerably constrained.

So we have this contradictory context between the need for passion/creativity and systems based on a hierarchical organizations designed to suppress both for the better good of “efficiency”. A contradiction that can also be applied to the most important kind of employees organizations need today and will crave for even more in the future, the kind of employees less possible to be replaced by a robot or a software, the ones adding their passion and creativity as key competitive elements for certain business activities, the ones therefore who will most likely experience a disconnect between their passion for their chosen field and their creative impulses, and not having those things engaged within the fixed, subservient roles of their workplace.

Innovation and collaboration are some of such key business activities. We all already know great ideas don’t depend on hierarchy or seniority, they don’t depend on a pyramidal organization but on a network of enough passionate and creative participants engaged in solving a challenge and, willing to put an important part of their egos aside during the process.

In summary, the process of an orchestra without a conductor producing wonderful music offers a metaphor for us to gain some insights as to how we can improve our process and methodologies for collaboration and co-innovation…

Size matters. Four or five people can easily discuss matters as equals. Some kind of leadership is necessary when bigger groups not just make collaboration more complex, but create a chaos in which it is also more difficult for each member of the group to have a meaningful impact.

Leaderships can be occasional. The Orpheus Orchestra works with occasional leaderships restrained to a particular project. They devised a system of rotating leadership revolving around a “core” of musicians elected for each piece by the musicians themselves, and a concertmaster (chosen for each piece by a committee of orchestra members) that has special responsibilities, as bringing focus and shape to the musical interpretation.

Leaderships are not about “all or nothing”. At the Orpheus Orchestra some teams form and disband from project to project, but others are longer range and involve larger artistic and administrative duties. Contrary to most of orchestras, they do not have a single artistic director but three coordinators (elected by members) who develop different roles usually hold by just one person.

Absolute power is bad even for the leader. There is a benefit in sharing power. To be leader all the time could be terribly stressful (therefore not good for taking the right decisions). By rotating between numerous positions, members of the Orpheus Orchestra can use a wide range of their talents and pursue different interest in addition to the highly specialization of playing their instruments.

Success is the best antidote for deniers. “At the beginning, there were probably only a couple of nuts in the orchestra who would consider that we could ever do a Beethoven symphony without a conductor. After 10 or 12 years, there may have been a few more people who thought we might have been able to tackle it”, explained violinist Ronnie Bauch, one of the first members of the Orpheus Orchestra.

What You Can Learn About Collaboration and Leadership From a Chamber Orchestra

This blogpost is from  http://www.co-society.com/kind-leadership-music-ears

Business trendsCo-creationCollaborative cultureInnovationInnovative culture

Teaming up with customers & fans to co-innovate

As explained many times in this blog, engaging customers and turning them into fans, contributors and brand ambassadors is one of the key success factors of destinations 3.0. One recent case within the entertainment sector showcases how co-innovation with fans can lead to fruitful results.

Even if the concept of costumer centric business is still often more of a marketing trick or organizational aspiration than a reality, increasing competition is making brands truly getting closer to customers. Some others are even going further: they are putting them at the heart of business decision-making.

When it comes to innovation they’re even asking them for help with the process, not just simply using them to provide insight. Consumer-led creativity does exist. Consumers are a huge and largely untapped source of creativity and innovation. Customers are already creating value and solving problems without any encouragement from commercial organizations. Why not trying to tap into it?

Co-creation workshops can help businesses pool ideas from participants and turn these insights into tangible prototypes that can be evaluated in real time. We could recently prove it once more when asked by F.C. Barcelona to lead its first co-creation workshop with members of the football club in order to work together in a process of proposals and ideas. Using the context of the recent Mobile World Congress, fifty F.C. Barcelona supporters between 18 and 40 years gathered in a workshop named ‘Smart & Mobile Connection Future’ to propose ideas linked to technological applications that could facilitate the living and sensing of everything the sport club is offering to its members, supporters and fans in the stadium and sports events.

After a few speeches introducing the vision, mission and methodology of the workshop by some innovation experts, the supporters were divided into small groups to encourage their participation, which resulted in a great deal of ideas related to the use of new technologies in the Stadium and the sporting events. Contributions and needs identified were numerous. For instance, it was proposed to make possible to watch game replays on the phone or tablet at the Camp Nou stadium itself in real time; and apps to order sandwiches and drinks from seats during the game or to access to information about public transport and traffic around the stadium. Some other proposals pointed to be able to carry a digital version club’s member card in smartphones that could also be used for mobile payments at shops and restaurants linked with F.C. Barcelona.

Co-creation workshop ‘Smart & Mobile Connection Future’ is part of a transversal innovation program started late last year with the aim to identify problems and opportunities for the organization and resolve them through new projects or ways of working. Some other workshops like this are coming soon and will be related to other areas of the club.

This article is from www.co-society.com/teaming-customers-co-innovate-even-better-fans-youre-lucky