How Creative Collaboration Leads to Innovation.
It might seem incredible that students, professionals, parents and singles will offer up their homes for free in order to help out and meet wayward travelers. But one can only look at the numbers – five million ‘couchsurfs’ in dozens of countries around the world and see that couchsurfing.org’s idea of creative collaboration works. It’s an idea, marketing technique and philosophy that is becoming ever more relevant for creative businesses as well.
Saneel Radia, Berlin School of Creative Leadership graduate who gave a seminar to current students in New York, says creative collaboration is a necessary tool for innovation. As head of Innovation for BBH New York, his word carries some weight.
Creative Collaboration comes in different forms. Through crowd-sourcing, a company or innovator still maintains most of the control. By getting input from the outside or funding for an idea, the collaboration helps make a product better or more innovative. Kickstart and Groupon are examples of businesses that require a certain number of people to participate in order to make the deal or product a reality. But other than their resources and ideas, those outside of the company have little control over the end product. Co-creation, however, gives the majority of control to the masses outside of the company. One example is LEGO Cusoo, a LEGO branch that allows customers or users to develop their own LEGO idea, submit it online and if it gets 10,000 supporters, LEGO will review the idea as a potential product. The customer then receives a fraction of the royalties. Wikipedia and Wordpress are also examples of co-creation.
Saneel argues that co-creation is not only a good idea to engage customers but is becoming increasingly important for the public, which is growing used to the idea of being a part of a production rather than just being the recipient of a product. For creative industries, advertising in particular, he says digital product creation will likely be the agencies’ first foray into co-creation.
The idea of creative collaboration can be put to use in many facets of a business. Referencing the book, Innovator’s Dilemma, Saneel says companies often concentrate on becoming faster and more efficient with their own product, but rarely look outside the company for possible answers to unforeseen threats. When, in reality, learning how to collaborate with people outside your own organization can often lead to innovations that are ahead of the curve. Another movement gaining steam is collaborative consumption - the idea that many people can share one product (like Zipcar) or use technology to swap ideas and items. By embracing the idea of sharing rather than protectively guarding every secret, companies can benefit from the wealth of information people are willing to share for free as well as create ads or products that capitalize on this trend that is growing exponentially every year.
The point is: for companies, agencies or other creative businesses to not fear the idea of looking outside their own organizations for answers or engaging the public in a new campaign or product because of the threat of copies or devaluing intellectual property. Often what seem like threats can become opportunities if looked at with the eyes of a creative collaborator, rather than just with the eyes of a creator.
Click here for Saneel's BBH Labs
Check out Saneel's book recommendation on Collaborative Consumption