A few weeks ago, I added a couple posts dealing with innovation clusters. One was motivated by a speech given by Lilly's CEO John Lechleiter. In it, he was promoting the idea of our goverment to keep funding the development of innovation clusters as these seem to provide vibrancy and innovation to a given industry.
As a reminder, clusters are geographic concentrations of interconnected firms, and supporting or coordinating organizations.
At the end of last week, I saw a nice post on the Innovate on Purpose blog dealing with what I've termed "internal innovation clusters"and the author terms the "network effect". In his post, the author - Jeffrey Phillips - asserts that innovation is more successful when there is a critical mass or network effect in an industry or market - that sounds like a cluster to me. He says we ought to apply that same thinking to innovators in a firm.
The "lone innovator" is a myth according to him. Rather, companies need to create a critical mass of innovators who are networking with each other and sharing ideas and concepts - both within and outside the firm. He also questions the common methodology employed by many firms of kicking off one or two small, isolated innovation efforts while the rest of the firm "stays focused" on the business. This makes innovation difficult as there are no other innovators in the firm to interact with or compare notes with. Additionally, there is no "internal competition" for the best ideas and no "synergistic" effects created by multiple teams innovating.
He argues that the creation of multiple innovation teams within an organization that exchange information with each other, and with other firms and markets, will create more and better innovation. That sounds like an "internal innovation cluster" to me.
Posted by Bruce Lehr October 11th 2010.