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Co-Inventors: Common Ground To Higher Goals.

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Smart Ways To Build A Successful Relationship

Co-invention is a strategy that can pay of handsomely under the right circumstances. Particularly in tech industries, co-invention provides the opportunity to multiply the potential of the participating organizations by rapidly bringing new strengths or skills online. Co-invention can bring companies into entirely new markets, or counteract the impact of larger competitors.

But collaborating for co-invention can be as much art as science: creating the right environment and dynamics for success requires work, clear communications, and—sometimes—the willingness to relinquish some control.

If a co-invention relationship makes sense for your organization, begin the collaboration with these key ideas in mind:

If You Find Yourself Looking In A Mirror, There Could Be A Problem.

Unless your goal is to grow in exactly what you’re already doing, your co-invention partnership should be based on finding another organization that complements, rather than mimics, your current capabilities. You want differences, focusing particularly on groups that have strengths in areas where your team has weaknesses.

Depending on your industry, you may also need to look for co-invention relationships that move outside your traditional product areas or distribution chain. Casting a wide net while researching potential partners may lead to groups you didn’t originally consider—but which provide the most benefit.

Be Perfectly Clear. In Discussions And In Writing.

With any business relationship, communications is critical. This is especially true in creative collaborations. For co-invention, there are also added layers of legal ownership and responsibility.

So for co-invention to be successful, both parties have to have clear understanding and expectations of what is expected from each. Goals should be specific. Metrics should be as detailed as possible. And legal aspects have to be thorough. Anything of significance to the scope of the partnership should be put in writing, but that’s only part of the job. The real challenge is in making sure that employees at the collaborating organizations have a full understanding of the purpose of the venture—and their roles. This doesn’t happen overnight; it requires reinforcement through multiple messages.

Respect Corporate Cultures. But Know When You Have To Change.

Part of the value of bringing groups together for co-invention is the dynamics that come from different points of view and methods of working. The perspective of different corporate cultures can spark fresh ideas and break barriers. But if there are areas where the collaborators are different enough to create organization conflicts or if there are areas where neither group is taking responsibility for a critical task, then changes have to be made to both organizations.

Friction Can Make Heat. Or Light.

However, don’t assume all conflict is the result of an organizational flaw. If there are differences in ideas or philosophy that don’t affect operations, it may be of value to let them be for a while. The energy and emotions of differing viewpoints may be disruptive—or they may lead to extra effort being put into concepts to prove or disprove them. This could speed outcomes.

If differences between groups become too great, they have to be managed. But if teams can disagree but still work together, the results can be significant.

Set Checkpoints.

Communications is key to successful co-invention, and part of the communications process should be regular reviews of the collaboration and its value to both organizations. Reviews should begin early and continue throughout the collaboration. It may be apparent early on that the co-invention relationship is not working, and reviews give the organizations the chance to opt out before investing too many resources. If the partnership is working, then regular reviews allow teams to continuously improve.

Emergent Technologies has helped numerous organizations with co-invention. We help companies identify and nurture relationships that can multiply their value. We are happy to share with you additional ideas for co-invention success if you’re considering this as a business growth option.

What do you want to build today?