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Innovation: from ideation to activation


Collaboration is critical

Collaboration is considered important by most (87%) Canadian leaders surveyed. In fact, it is critical on multiple levels in order to plug capability voids and accelerate cross-pollination. Organizations need to build energy around ideas, inspire teamwork and enable rapid prototyping. Those that are ambidextrous or involved in exploration are more likely to see internal and external collaboration as important.

Larger organizations often struggle to innovate from within due to tight processes, systems and procedures and an operationally excellent culture that drives standardization rather than variation and innovation. Collaborating can be a mechanism to get around this: for example, working with smaller companies focused on the next big idea or taking a financial stake in smaller companies and using them as a source of idea generation. Once an idea becomes mature, real and commercial, the company is often absorbed into the enterprise or the idea and related intellectual property transferred.

According to our survey, collaboration is very important for small and large organizations, but less important to companies in between.

How important is collaboration for innovation within your organization?

EY - Chart - How important is collaboration for innovation within your organization?

Pick the right partner

In general, Canadian organizations prefer to collaborate with industry service providers (35%) but preferred partners vary by sector:

  • Some government and public sector organizations (30%) emphasized a desire to work with other government agencies.
  • The majority (67%) of technology respondents prefer to work with customers and often run product innovation sessions selectively with customers.
  • Consumer products and retail organizations indicated a strong preference to work with companies in other sectors (45%).
  • Very small organizations and those with more than 5,000 employees were more likely to want to work with other organizations in their industry.

Often service providers build their business and associated fees based on bringing new perspectives, insights and ideas to their clients. Typically, the more innovative companies are, the more successful they will be in serving their clients across multiple industries.

What partners for collaboration would your organization consider?

EY - Chart - What partners for collaboration would your organization consider?
EY - Building Blocks

People: key success factors

  • Develop a diverse team with a range of seniority and backgrounds.
  • Find individuals who are creative thinkers, have the right mindset, are risk-taking and action-oriented, to test and try new ideas.
  • Invest in developing “people” capability — training, resources, collaboration platforms and more — to innovate.
  • Create a network of individuals and teams both internally and externally who are skilled in the key elements of innovation.
  • Embrace open innovation — innovating outside the boundary of the firm with external parties, including academe, entrepreneurs and industry partners.
  • Enable employees to gather knowledge and collaborate internally and externally through networks, communities of interest and technology platforms.