Subcontracting Trade Fair

Innovations need different perspectives and collaboration!

News  17.09.2018

I was at a family gathering a while back, and I told others I worked with innovations. I was immediately surrounded by people wanting to hear where new ideas and inventions come from. Taken aback, I told them there rarely is any mystique to it ­– although, fortunately, there are some “Gyro Gearloose” types out there, looking at the world in their unique way. However, ideas and innovations are often based on “boring” phenomena, such as understanding the customers’ needs and everyday research and development.

Nevertheless, people seem to regard innovations as something magical – particularly since some inventions have been created completely by accident.  The microwave oven, Teflon coating and superglue: these are examples of everyday objects that are not based on great visions or flashes of brilliance, but on failed attempts to do something else. In the light of this, could we build a “culture of error” into innovation projects and hope that something good comes out of it? Innovative organisations are not afraid of errors, but maybe they should not focus solely on errors.

At their core, innovations that were created by mistake are about finding a new perspective. So how could we find new perspectives more often? How could we see old things in a new light and find new purposes for old, familiar ideas and products? Or, how could we see our customers’ needs in a new light and find entirely new solutions?

New visions are born naturally when we combine different types of competence and experience. An excellent way to achieve this is hiring different people from diverse backgrounds and with varied work experience. This kind of diversity is proven to improve organisations’ innovative capability and results. Collaboration between different companies is another way of increasing diversity.

There has been a lot of discussion about large and small companies collaborating. Thousands of large companies all over the world, from BMW to Nordea, have initiated extensive start-up programs to find new innovations, technological solutions, partners, and investments. However, you do not necessarily need such large projects to seek new perspectives, instead, you can get started by initiating discussions with various companies at events like AlihankintaHEAT during the Subcontracting Trade Fair. You need to be prepared to hear new views, but also to offer your own learnings and experiences to help others. While discussions are a good start, you also need to take action: discussions and ideas only lead to new innovations and added value for the customers through action.

A representative of a large company told me that they do not bother talking to start-ups since “start-ups see everything differently and are not interested in the challenges of large companies”. If you ask a start-up, they may actually reply that this assessment is correct: particularly because they are not interested in the bureaucracy and slowness of a larger company. To succeed in collaboration, the companies need to find the things both parties find interesting. Both types of companies can learn from each other, but you should not adopt everything from the other company. For instance, start-ups can provide new perspectives and agile operating models, but at the same time, they can learn a lot from the market insights or  the tested pricing models of an established company.

Building equal partnerships is increasingly important for companies of all sizes. In particular, new types of partnership models will be one of the cornerstones of the innovation practises. Each company and individual should develop their capability to listen to new perspectives and their preparedness to deviate from established models. You should not waste your time trying to re-invent the wheel, but you do need to be prepared to respond to the changes in customer needs in an agile manner. This way, both the agility of your staff and working partnership models will guarantee your success.

Director Topi Järvinen
PwC Finland
Entrepreneurial Consulting Services

We invite to listen to PwC’s Topi Järvinen’s thoughts on Artificial intelligence, entrepreneurship and collaboration at AlihankintaHEAT, an event of the Subcontracting Trade Fair, 25 September 2018 at 12:50 pm – 1:30 pm on Heat Stage, main lobby.