A while ago Vincent De Waele notified me of a rapport of McKinsey about the importance of external and internal networks to stimulate innovation (thanks Vincent!).
According to their survey these were the most important external supporters for innovation ranked by importance as the single most important factor (percentages are rounded):
1) Business-to-business networks (eg. Suppliers): 47%
2) Research partnerships: 11%
3) Academic partnerships: 9%
4) Consumer-to-consumer networks: 5%
5) Other: 8%
6) None: 18%
Also internal networks are the most important source for innovation. These are the internal sources for innovation ranked by importance as the single most important source:
1) Cross-functional innovation network of leaders and experts: 46%
2) Marketing department: 12%
3) Research and development network: 12%
4) Customer Council: 7%
5) Other: 8%
6) None: 13%
Note: the percentages of “None” mean that the respondents ranked two or more sources as most important.
What do these figures mean to me?
Many times it is heard that research and development should be the focus to innovate. Although this plays an important role, the survey shows (again) that the power of a network cannot be underestimated.
And the good news is that these are free resources!
Asking customers for their advice or bringing together people from different departments and teams doesn’t cost extra money. Moreover, there are many tools like videoconferencing or teleconferencing (over the phone or with Skype) that are very cheap or even free so you don’t even have to pay for travel costs.
The biggest pitfall however is that companies or people only start building internal and external networks when they need them. And that is way too late.
How about you? What does your network look like? Do you have the right people in your network to help you innovate?
No? Then start expanding your network today!
Have a great networking day !