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Humans inherently connect to each other in an indigenous context, generate knowledge, and develop a product to be disseminated by way of commerce.  Traditionally, Global Innovation practice has seen assembling of people with vital capabilities and essential knowledge via co-location. 

Co-location is the gathering of Innovation specialists into a handful of Innovation centers, domestically and in prime markets.  The innovative products and/or services created by them are then dispersed to markets throughout the globe.

However, as the array of knowledge required for Global Innovation becomes extensive and diverse, co-location has become inadequate.  Today’s dynamic and shrinking world necessitates taking an expanded approach to Innovation Management.

Most of the organizations have not been able to sufficiently internationalize their Innovation Strategies to make use of the multifaceted knowledge scattered world-wide; knowledge necessary for present-day products and services.

Cause of failure is the generally accepted but perceived trade-offs listed below.  The challenge is to surmount these trade-offs, which research has shown is possible. 

  1. Approval vs. Disapproval
  2. Autonomy vs. Control
  3. Capability vs. Motivation
  4. Attraction vs. Interest
  5. Achievement vs. Potential 


Most companies leverage their international networks just to engage in mundane tasks, and are unable to make use of opportunities for Global Innovation to gain Competitive Advantage.

Let us go into some detail of these tradeoffs. 

Approval vs. Disapproval

When pitched generally, the idea of taking Innovation to the global level is agreed to by everyone across the organization.  When the task is directed towards a specific entity or specifics of it are assigned, Disapproval ensues.

Autonomy vs. Control

This is the trade-off between granting local autonomy vs. losing centralized control over the Innovation process.  Reason for such interpretation is the inability to consider knowledge and power separately. 

Capability vs. Motivation

A singularity exists where companies with elevated Innovation Capability exhaust their enthusiasm for Global Innovation.

Attraction vs. Interest

Taking Innovation to the global scale often necessitates partnerships.  Such partnerships typically present the predicament that the more desirable the probable partner appears, the less those feelings are reciprocated. 

Achievement vs. Potential

There is a trade-off between the over-emphasis on historical achievements vs. the potential for future achievements, as over-reliance on what has worked in the past will hinder Creativity required for a new environment.

Effective Global Innovation of products and services has the hallmark of unrestricted reciprocity of unstated knowledge between people scattered around the world.  Such an evolution can be achieved by optimizing 3 diverse aspects of Innovation, generally simultaneously.

The 3-prong approach to Global Innovation Strategy that overcomes the Global Innovation trade-off of Knowledge Complexity vs. Global Dispersion comprises of:

  1. Compact & Agile Innovation Footprint
  2. Capabilities & Structures for Communication
  3. Internal & External Collaboration

Universal principles of Global Innovation Strategy keep evolving for making each of these attributes work, based on the experience of numerous entities.

Let us delve a little deeper into the 3 principles.

Compact & Agile Innovation Footprint

This relates to the quantity of tangible sites in an Innovation network.  Only that number of physical sites should be included in an Innovation network which are able to add exclusive and discerned knowledge. 

Capabilities & Structures for Communication

This aspect has to do with overcoming the challenge of distance, time, and culture when taking Innovation to the global level.

Communication is a momentous challenge when there is distance, time, and culture difference.   Developing a culture of open knowledge-sharing is vital for taking Innovation to a global scale.

Internal & External Collaboration

This aspect looks at collaboration protocols for co-located sites versus globally dispersed collaboration.

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To be competitive and sustain growth, we need to constantly develop new products, services, processes, technologies, and business models.  In other words, we need to constantly innovate.

Ironically, the more we grow, the harder it becomes to innovate.  Large organizations tend to be far better executors than they are innovators.  To effectively manage the Innovation process, we need to master both the art and science of Innovation.  Only then can we leverage Innovation as a Competitive Advantage, instead of viewing Innovation as a potential disruptive threat.

Learn about our Innovation Management Best Practice Frameworks here.

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