MARCH 2008 EFFECTIVE EXECUTIVE17
Collaborating for InnovationFrom Concept to Zone Practice
The core premise of the future is collaboration. This does notmean that organizations dont compete. This is inevitable.What it does mean is that the shift in orientation becomesone of sharing and leveraging one another for mutualsuccess. In national and global terms, it is described ascreating the common good from which all benefit.
Value-chain thinking is very old. Al-though useful in defining the linearinterrelationships of functions, it doesnot provide a robust framework for aninnovation strategy that capitalizes onthe strengths of interdependent net-works of business units. This is theheart of a new visionthe art of col-laborative advantage.1
The knowledge economy offersorganizations and society anunprecedented opportunity for
creating the future. This is a bountifulclimate in which ideas will be valued,but only as they are applied to ad-vance society. The answers lie in aneffective innovation strategy, rede-fined according to the flow of knowl-
edge ideas to prosperity. Themandate is quite clear; but the role ofexecutive managers and financial ac-countants is yet to be defined. Whatwill be the legacy left in ten, twenty orfifty years?
The world is experiencing unprec-edented change in applications ofknowledge in every dimension of de-velopment, growth, revitalization andorganization. The demands and op-portunities of an interdependent glo-bal economy have implications forprivate and public decision making byenterprises and communities,whether local, national, regional orglobal. Most nations have launchedmajor initiatives to harness their in-herent capability within a trans-na-
tional context. All has been done inthe name of international competi-tiveness-economies have been trans-formed, communities revitalized,emerging territories supported and in-dustrialized nations repositioned. Wehave much to learn from one another.
The foundation for a new eco-nomic world order has been laidonebased upon knowledge, innovationand international collaboration. This isa new landscape where managerialrules have significantly changedbuthow, when and to what end?
The role of the management ac-countant has evolved substantiallyover the past decade. More significantchanges lie ahead. Responsibilitieshave already shifted from monitoringthe financial accounting process tothe overall management processes ofthe firm. Once the emphasis shiftsfrom managing the tangible to the in-tangible assets, their advice and coun-sel will be needed more than ever. Notonly are the language and conceptstransforming, but the basic principlesof the profession may also be chal-lenged. This can be seen as a realthreat. Progressive managers will, in-stead, see it as an opportunity to shapethe very foundations upon which thefuture will evolve. What was managedpreviously will be viewed as myopicin contrast to the multi-variableeconomy of tomorrow.
The RationaleManagement responsibilities will in-creasingly be viewed as facilitatingthe learning process which includesexternal stakeholders (e.g., suppliers,distributors, alliance partners, cus-tomers and even competitors). Howthese relationships are managed isfar more a matter of collaborative skillthan competitive advantage with
1 Internal Digital Equipment Corporationsmemorandum (1991), reprinted in Schein, Edet al DEC is Dead(2003).
MARCH 2008 EFFECTIVE EXECUTIVE18
Debra M Amidon is Founder and CEO of ENTOVATION International, Ltd.
(Wilmington, Massachusetts) a global innovation research and consulting
network linking 90 countries throughout the world. Convening the 1 st
conference on Managing Knowledge Assets into the 21st Century and
writing about intellectual capital in 1987, she is considered one of the original
architects and social entrepreneurs of the knowledge economy.
Her Network includes the internationally recognized ENTOVATION 100 of
Global Leadership with 160 members from 62 countries. Her own specialties
include knowledge management, e-learning networks, customer innovation, and
enterprise transformation. Shes been featured in notable biographical publications
such as The International Book of Honor and the Woman of the Decade.
She has presented extensively in as many as 35 nations throughout the
North and South America, Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, Australia and
South Africa and the Middle East. Her interviews have appeared in global
media, such as Ottawa Citizen, Innovacion, Singapore Business Times,
Effective Executive, CORDIS the EU Press, and the Arab News.
Debra was featured along with ten Nobel Laureates in the Festival of
Thinkers held in Abu Dhabi hosted by the Crowned Prince, and
subsequent presentations in Dubai and Bahrain. Her certification program
has been instructed through the Ministries of Egypt and courses downlinked
throughout Saudi Arabia. She is a founding member of the Arab Knowledge
Economy Association (AKEA).
In India, her articles have been published in many ICFAI publications,
including an interview for Effective Executive. This month, her training
program on Knowledge Innovation was sponsored by MindTree Consulting
and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
In addition, her counsel has been sought by Fortune 50 and world-
ranked sustainable companies as well as other diverse organizations.
Her background spans Higher Education Administration (as the 1 st
female associate dean at Babson College); state government (as the
Assistant Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts); and 12 years of industrial management (in the Office of
the President of Digital Equipment Corporation) where she established the
which most are so familiar. There areways to optimize results rather thanleave destiny to serendipity.
The focus on values, valuation andvaluing will gain prominence as execu-tives search for what, how and when tomeasure performance. Only when wehave a common language across bor-dersfunctions, industries, and coun-tries alikecan we begin to explore theprospects for collective prosperity.Given the identified trends estab-lished, emerging and over the hori-zonwe get a glimpse of the funda-mentals of the future. Implementationwill varycompany-to-company, in-dustry-to-industrybut coming to acommon understanding, our mutualmission could enable better utilizationof resources, financial, technical andhuman.
Knowledge of the emerging com-munity of innovation practice, weunderstand can let various practitio-ners throughout the value-systemcontribute. How they are engaged in ashared vision and common missiondetermines how they will be able toleverage their complementary compe-tencies. Rather than competing for re-sources and spheres of influence, in-dividuals, groups, organizations andnations can realize what they have togain through collaborative versuscompetitive strategy.
Frame for Progress 3LawsThe dawn of the new millennium hasbeen met with great enthusiasm andan equivalent commitment to change,or as we prefer to call it, innovation
(i.e., the capacity to preserve the bestof the old and realign the rest to takeadvantage of future opportunity). In-dividuals and organizations from ev-ery function, sector and corner of theglobe are envisioning a new economicworld orderone based upon intel-lectual and not financial capital. Ofcourse, knowledge has always beenan essential element in the advance-ment of civilization, but todaysemerging economy proposes thatknowledge be managed explicitly.
Certainly there are numerous fac-ets to understand with this complexevolution; but there are three primaryunderlying themes that are fundamen-tal to the new infrastructure needed tocreate prosperity in this new economy.These 3 Laws of Knowledge Dynamicscan be labeled as in Exhibit I: Evolu-
1st industrial-strength management systems research organization in the
She has authored many seminal books published in many languages,
such as Innovation Strategy for the Knowledge Economy: The KenAwakening (1997) and The Innovation SuperHighway (2003) which has been
called the breakthrough innovation book of the decade and selected by the
European Union KnowledgeBoard as the book of the month.
When she visited Beijing in 1998, her books were translated into
Chinese. This fall, she will release a three-volume co-edited trilogy,
Knowledge Economics: Principles, Practices and Policies published by Tartu
University Press (Estonia) featuring 27 authors from 14 countries.
Debra holds degrees from Boston University, Columbia University and
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she was an Alfred P Sloan
Debra has been referred by her peers as Drucker operationalized and
the Deming for innovation management. Her ENTOVATION Network is
intended to create collaborative advantage to provide a foundation for
economic sustainability, stakeholder innovation and world peace.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; URL: www.entovation.com
Collaborating for Innovation