Why 3rd party events are becoming more and more attractive to companies who want to innovate
In our working lives, we all have to some extent felt the touch of company cultures created by disciples of process in the hierarchical cultural model to the disciples of creativity and innovation in the consultative cultural model. Indeed, we too often remember the clashes between those of creative orientation and those of a more process orientation who favour a more rigid approach to our daily working lives.
Whatever the reason, the outcome of these clashes is often at the cost of creativity, independent thought and of course new product innovation. Its a conundrum that scaled companies in particular have to deal with in order to survive and grow. On that note, M&A is not the silver bullet for corporate growth as many had once believed. This has led very large names in multiple industries to a refocus on new product innovation and how to make it happen organically.
So, what do entrepreneurs, inventors, engineers and designers all have in common? In their own unique way, they all are highly creative, passionate about what they do and hold a unique view of the world. This separates them from the disciples of process in particular who value order through process above all else; including the ability to create new products and services. When thinking of who creates and who scales new products, the answer for organisations apparently lies in some form of functional product creator V scaler model, which in of itself is a good idea.
However, the experience of R&D departments has been one of segregation that has led to a disjoint between what they do and what their colleagues are experiencing down the corridor. Creative people often fear the sharp elbowed business colleague(s) pushing into their creative space and destroying everything from their thought process to their morale. I have seen this as a manager and had to address it many times in my prior career leading me to question the value of destructive colleagues who are “clever jerks”, that do their job well but ruin the working cohesion of sometimes entire teams. The resulting churn in organisations is a constant challenge, which has led many to create innovation hubs that protect that creative space for key people involved in the creative process.
This has had unclear levels of success as its still a work in progress for all companies involved. Many of these companies also dabble in 3rd party mediums such as technology meetups. If you saw their internal paperwork for funding to host a meetup, I’m pretty sure ‘recruitment’, ‘new employee resourcing’ or something to that effect would be on the requisition. I think this is too narrowly focused. Afterall, who works hard through the day in a technology job, is mentally tired after the day and then musters the strength to go to a meetup? Its someone who is passionate about what they do, is creatively looking to broaden their horizons and has some kind of vision that they want to explore through networking with like minded professionals at meetups. The creators of new products and services never tire at pursuing their passion in this manner.
Companies should look at the work of the Apache Foundation who routinely take this meeting of passion and like minds to the next level resulting in commercially valuable software like Hadoop and Spark. In doing so, they should see a less scaled opportunity to innovate. After all, if you build community, you build trust and belonging for those who will show up free of charge on a Saturday morning to do what they love. Such focus can only lead to qualitative exploration of new ways to do things and may even mature into something that a traditional R&D department would feel envious of. It may not be a packaged product they hand over to the company, it could be something else like expertise infusion, a newly incepted start up amongst a sub section of the meetup or something nobody thought of. In essence, community = passion | trust | skill | vision | collaboration.
A complete embracement of meetups by companies who seek to innovate can be tricky. However, as all successful innovators will tell you, innovation is never easy as the road to success stops off at the stations of failure along the way. If companies meaningfully travel that long haul journey with the community they help develop, then they will benefit in ways that underpins their longer term outlook.