In an article on my site, entitled Creating an Innovative Culture I spoke about how some companies sabotage their innovation effects by not encouraging networking amongÂ department and suppliers and customers. The reasons for encouraging a networking culture are numerous and obvious. No only for innovation and creativity but for simply maintaining business health. The idea of the lone ranger or isolated genius coming up with sparks of insight and creativity is no longer true. As a matter of fact, it never was true.
Innovation comes about when groups of people, from divergent backgrounds,Â come together to share and leverage their diverse experiences, disciplines, abilities and view points. This can only happen if you encourage networking within your organization. This happen only if it is done by design. And then supported and modeled by company leadership.
Another key motivation for setting up networking initiatives, other than innovation,Â is based on the simple fact that a business actually exists in the knowledge, relationships and minds of its employees. Distributing this knowledge is always a challenge, but replicating that information and knowledge through networking allows your business to weather losses of employees which inevitably occur. But leveraging a company’s collective knowledge, experience and relationship via either virtual or face-to-face networksÂ is vital to it ability to innovate.
Additionally, there is a lot of value that can be obtained through sources external to the company. Harnessing this the power and potential of this new knowledge and experience demands a strong networking culture. And a strong networking culture must be supported from the top.
You need to provide creative environments or events that encourage people to extend or develop their networks. People need to talk and discuss problems, issues, or ideas with people they have not yet met. These are events or situations where people regularly collaborate on new ideas.
You need to provide formal events that cause people to interact with people they would not normally interact with. Later review who has made connections and allow these new acquaintances to work on projects together. This effort can pay off handsomely with big ideas. These type of events also allow the seeds of new networks to be planted. You then are allowed them to blossom with the informal networks events. Encouraging these types of activity and put programs into place that increases the number of networks and their size will help you insure innovation increases in your organization.