Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

If you want your company to be more innovative 7: communication and innovation openness in the face of due diligence barriers 2

Posted in HR and personnel, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on August 1, 2013

Improving a business as a competitive enterprise, and making it more effectively communicative and collaboratively innovative, can be as simple as providing employees with a place where they can come together and talk. My goal for this series is to at least briefly outline an approach for facilitating conversation and the sharing of ideas and for collaboration in a business, as an enabler of innovative excellence (see HR and Personnel, postings 165 and loosely following for Parts 1-6.)

I began in Part 6, discussing approaches for maintaining effective collaborations in organizations bounded by a need to compartmentalize in order to control access to confidential and proprietary information. My goal there was simply to lay out some of the foundation issues that would go into developing best practices work-arounds for retaining the value achievable from a more open sharing of information and insight, even when barriers to that have to be in place. My goal for what follows is to take the discussion of Part 6 at least somewhat out of the abstract by fleshing it out with some specific, real-world examples. And I begin in-house and with organized and self-organized initiatives to develop new and even disruptively new and innovative products and services.

• New products and services might very well begin with the creative insight of one individual, but translating a new product or service concept into a working prototype-level model, and refining that to be a cost-effective, polished, marketable offering often means bringing together a fuller development team.

I have written at least relatively extensively about these teams, and about setting them up and managing them, and about contributing to them in my series: Keeping Innovation Fresh (see Business Strategy and Operations – 2, postings 241 and loosely following for Parts 1-16.) And within that I specifically recommend reviewing its Part 7 where I first formally introduced an organizational construct for carrying through on this type of collaboration: the transition committee, and subsequent series installments where I discussed that approach in more detail.

• A transition committee, or alternative approach for organizing and fleshing out an innovative idea into a marketable, profitable offering can arise as a matter of top-down organizing decision, from higher up on a table of organization – in which case it might very well be formed late and reactively and when any first mover advantage would be minimal.
• Or it could arise and develop more rapidly and spontaneously from the bottom up, forming as a self-organizing group around an individual or individuals who come up with an initial idea.
• Or this type of collaborative team, group or committee could arise and form in effect from both directions at once, organizing from the bottom up with self-recruitment as well as from recruitment by invitation, but also with overall organizational support for being able to do this.

Whichever of these approaches applies in the specific instance, an effective information infrastructure for enabling these collaborations would:

• Enable the right people to find and work with each other who all have any necessary information access permissions,
• Facilitate the co-creation of sharable documents and other informational resources for their collaborative use,
• Manage who has access to what of those information resources,
• Track who is actually accessing what of that and from where and when,
• Log version changes and document and other resource additions and deletions to this shared resource base,
• Provide back-up capability so if, for example, one server computer were to go off-line any pertinent files on it were still going to be intact and available,
• With automatic and documented synchronization between serves that carry what should be duplicates of these resources,
• And identify and track when anyone seeks unauthorized access to any of this.

On a technology side this system would be owned by Information Technology, working in collaboration with Security and Risk Management. On an overall content management side this would be owned by the specific departments and services that members of these teams come from and that shared data and information content would come from. Overall ownership and leadership in this would come from Human Resources as the Personnel-facing owner of this system and its organization-wide processes and practices as a whole. (Note that I very emphatically call for a much more active and involved HR department here than just the baseline personnel records and documentation managers of HR that only manage personnel folders for individual employees and their benefits packages, etc. I assume here a more actively involved 21st century HR department here.)

I am going to continue this discussion with a second, externally driven example where legal requirements dictate limitations as to who is allowed access to what information and under what circumstances. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at HR and Personnel and Social Networking and Business.

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