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The Innovator's Challenge


Imagine a young child raised in the concrete jungle of the inner city visiting a farm far away in mid-April. The farmer, who has just laid tiny seeds under the surface of the soil, shows the child the moist chocolate brown earth, its linear furrows stretching long toward the horizon.

The farmer describes how inside each seed lies the potential for a bountiful harvest months from now. Each spring he dreams of the harvest. But between April and September, it will require lots of back-breaking work, a strong dose of patience, the warmth of the sun, and the tender summer rains to coax the seed out of its shell and have the seed truly fulfill its glorious destiny.

The child looks at the farmer as if he were from outer-space. "Mister, this is just a bunch of dirt. My mom'd get mad if I came home with this all over me," the child scolds the farmer, then adds, "All this is a lotta bunk! How could a tiny little seed grow into a big pumpkin or a bean stalk? You must think I'm pretty stupid!" The child stomps off in a huff.

Such is the plight of most of those who look at the possibility of suppliers, outsourcers, developers, channel partners, or even competitors as potential sources of massive innovation.

Like the seed in the shell, most external relationships have been treated with a stand-off relationship based in fear, uncertainty, and distrust. How could this type of business relationship yield a bountiful harvest?

The answer has three parts:

  1. Billion Dollar Opportunity
  2. Architecture of Alliance Collaboration
  3. Show me and I’ll believe

1. The Billion Dollar Opportunity

For most larger corporations, creating innovative linkages their customers, suppliers, outsourcers, other product/service deliverers, and even their competitors, at best, an elusive dream, and more often than not, and idea that has not even been considered.

For those, like P&G, IBM, Cisco Systems, and Eli Lilly, who have tasted the sweetness of the water from this wellspring, their destinies have been forever changed -- they would never return to the old methods of beating on vendors, strictly seeing competitors as enemies. Alliances have become true Engines of Innovation. As A.G. Lafley, CEO of P&G has stated: “
We’ve created an Innovation Engine.” For P&G and the few others that have taken the step forward, the results are worth billions.

2. The Architecture of Alliance Collaboration

Joining companies together is no longer a mystery. Nor is it an art. It is a matter of using “Best Practices,” which create a very high rate of success. These best practices enable your company to replicate its success over an over again in a wide variety of circumstances across global territories.

3. Show me and I’ll believe

Fortunately, this is no longer a problem. Fifteen years of alliance formation success, coupled with several years of innovation engine success have made the “show me” story irrelevant. We have dozens of Case Studies from our client files plus knowledge and examples from many others.

If you are having difficulty convincing others in your organization about the value of an Engines of Innovation program, we suggest you download our Executive Presentation that deliniates many of the major issues, concerns, and opportunities to be addressed: Key Questions & Issues for Executives regarding Alliances as Engines of Innovation

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