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Following the Digital Thread: Creating a Smart Part and Managing Its Life Cycle

  • Video | Runtime: 0:06:37

  • Read Time: 1 min 

In Part 2 of our eight-part video series, we explore how technology affects product and component design. The digital thread not only streamlines product design via the ability to digitally scan an existing part or design a new one using computer-aided design (CAD) software, it can also accelerate the development process by affording previously unattainable levels of transparency and input.

Five Principles for Organizing Collective Intelligence

A featured excerpt from Big Mind: How Collective Intelligence Can Change Our World. Geoff Mulgan’s new book provides a guide to managing and optimizing collective intelligence. The five fundamental principles Mulgan outlines in this excerpt offer a nuanced answer to the question: “What is it, at the micro and macro levels, that allows collective intelligence to flower?”

The Unique Challenges of Cross-Boundary Collaboration

  • Interview
  • Read Time: 8 min 

Technology has made business more globally connected than ever before. This is especially true for innovation projects, where diverse experts bring their specialized knowledge to play. But there’s a hitch: Many of today’s team projects have built-in hurdles because of differing communication styles, cultures, and professional norms. Leading this kind of “extreme teaming,” which often involves complicated hierarchies of power, demands both curiosity and humility.

How Office Seating Arrangements Can Boost the Bottom Line

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 4 min 

Investopedia CEO David Siegel doesn’t micromanage — except when it comes to employee seating arrangements. He personally recommends where each new employee should sit with an eye toward improving collaboration between departments. And his entire executive team sits together — no offices, cubicles, or preferential seating. He argues that this approach to team building and breaking down silos has been critical to his company’s success.


Developing Successful Strategic Partnerships With Universities

Collaborations between companies and universities are critical drivers of the innovation economy. As many corporations look to open innovation to augment their internal R&D efforts, universities have become essential partners. However, companies often struggle to establish and run university partnerships effectively.

We Must Rescue ‘Win-Win’ From Its Buzzword Status

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 6 min 

Companies tend to compete not as individual entities, but as members of networks — which makes collaboration a strategic necessity, not merely a tactical choice. But while many executives say they want win-win solutions, in reality, they usually seek victories that don’t excessively annoy their counterparts. In other words, “win/no-lose” is a more accurate description.

Why Your Company Needs More Collaboration

What distinguishes companies that have built advanced digital capabilities? The ability to collaborate. Research finds that a focus on collaboration — both with and without technology, both within organizations and with external partners and stakeholders — is central to how digitally advanced companies create business value and establish competitive advantage over less advanced rivals.

Five Rules for Managing Large, Complex Projects

Large-scale, long-term projects are notoriously difficult to manage. But recent research on megaprojects — defined as projects costing more than $1 billion — reveals five lessons that can help executives manage any big, complex project more effectively.


Cultivating a Culture of Cross-Functional Teaming and Learning at CarMax

The days when buying a used car meant “kicking the tires” and wading through a hard sales pitch are gone. With customer expectations evolving in a rapidly changing digital environment, digital dealership CarMax’s product development teams are “all about developing customer-facing and associate-enabling technologies,” says CIO Shamim Mohammad — but the focus is on the teamwork, not the tech.

How to Catalyze Innovation in Your Organization

The authors’ research suggests that, rather than leaving the development of innovation to serendipity, executives should create collaborative contexts where innovation is likely to emerge from unpredictable pockets of creativity within an organization. By understanding and tapping the power of employee networks, executives can stimulate the creation of these kinds of collaborative environments.


The Customer-Inventor Revolution

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 3 min 

For over 30 years, MIT Sloan’s Eric von Hippel has investigated the ways general users of products and services have improved them through tinkering and invention. “The Age of the Consumer-Innovator,” which he co-authored for MIT Sloan Management Review in 2011, was an important marker in explaining how user communities were changing product development. It laid the groundwork for von Hippel’s current research, which looks at the way some of today’s innovation is given away as a “free good.”

Executive Assistants for Everyone

Smartphones and cloud technology work in tandem to provide a prized perk to managers lower on the corporate ladder: The ability to pass repetitive, tedious scheduling tasks off to someone (or in this case, something) else. As digital agents become ubiquitous, their input will greatly enhance collaboration.

Navigating the Leadership Challenges of Innovation Ecosystems

Certain kinds of product or process creations involve not just one player but many to ensure success. Organizations working toward this kind of innovation need to think about the project’s innovation ecosystem, which includes identifying co-innovators, structuring project leadership, and potentially modifying how success is defined. “All these things need to be negotiated within the coalition” notes Ron Adner of the Tuck School of Business — a process that’s often under-appreciated or ignored.

Sharing Supply Chain Data in the Digital Era

Effectively managing and coordinating supply chains will increasingly require new approaches to data transparency and collaboration. Supply chains in coming years will become even more “networked” than they are today — with significant portions of strategic assets and core capabilities externally sourced and coordinated. Already, progressive companies are developing novel solutions to the dilemma of data transparency by using data “cleanrooms” and digital marketplaces.

The Art of Managing Complex Collaborations

The only way to move forward on society’s biggest challenges may be through consortiums. But it’s not easy to assemble such groups or to keep them together. The experiences of The Biomarkers Consortium, a nine-year-old public-private partnership in the health industry, presents five lessons in managing these kinds of complex collaborations. These lessons are useful for anyone trying to build consensus to address broad societal challenges among multiple stakeholders with both common and divergent interests.

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