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Co-creation and media mashups are a form of innovation through collaborative activity using the two-way conversation which web 2.0 makes possible.

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Innovation is an active and collaborative process. It often takes place in loosely-organised groups of businesses who gather to do a project, usually communicating using web tools. Much of the progress made, (with consequent innovations) happens when specialists from different businesses attempt to solve problems they find when they try to create a product from an idea (execution).

These collaborating businesses can combine detailed, production-specific design capability with manufacturing systems and facilities. They work closely with the overall project manager to ensure that the product or sub-assembly they are making will perform as intended, whilst fitting and working as smoothly as possible with other parts of the product. There are also contractual aspects of the relationship which need to ensure compatible process time, delivery dates and a suitable price structure.
If the organisation you work in is part of such a project group, if you want to be valuable to the project you will need at least two types of knowledge:
  1. mastery of your discipline
  2. knowledge of how to work collaboratively
Mastery of your Discipline
If you are the engineer for a project you must be confident in your ability to find and use materials within their capabilities, solve spatial problems and represent your findings in drawings and documentation which is readily understood and used by others project members. If you are an accountant or lawyer you need to ensure that each new design iteration is within your company’s capabilities and is profitable.
Collaboration
You must know how to use communication and collaboration tools to fully understand the challenges and opportunities for your company and then how to contribute ideas and solutions back to the project group. You must also know which of your company’s intellectual property (IP) can (and must) be released for the benefit of the project and which IP must be kept in-house to protect your company’s competitive position.
Communities of Practice – Mutual Assistance
Hopefully you will be a participant in specialist communities of practice related to your area of expertise, building relationships, trust and a reputation for specific expertise with fellow professionals. You will be donating your time (or your company’s time), your specialist expertise and maybe some company IP to help other companies to solve their operational problems. This offers you a great opportunity to keep an eye on what competitors or potential customers are doing, which you can report back to your manager. It also offers you and your company an incredible free resource of specialists who you can call on occasionally to solve technical problems in your own work.

Human needs & aspirations, jostling competition and a problematic world have plagued individuals for a long time. The potential for global insights delivered alongside a world responsive to our uniqueness are new features, recently enabled by the Internet.

It is a cruel irony that the machines that we looked forward to in the 1950s and 60s to save us from drudgery and provide an easy life have taken over the routine jobs and pushed many of us into more complex service-based roles, especially in the West. In order to maintain progress towards our rising life expectations, we must constantly hone our skills and deliver the fruits of higher order thinking at work to keep our place in the system.

This peculiarly human contribution to the world which we strive for is called innovation. It is usually a collaborative pursuit and it can be learned by individuals and organisations. In order for innovation to occur, the individual and the organisation must both play their roles. Although the innovative idea probably came from one person, some form of interdisciplinary collaboration will be required to execute it and to where it is taken up and used.

Businesses can become innovative by emphasising the tentative nature of daily operations, running production facilities as if they are complex, interconnected scientific experiments. The aim being to optimise the entire production process on a continuing basis. More info about the techniques of action research can be found here and about the Toyota Production system can be found here.