Making Connections Work

Tuesday, 08 November 2011 06:30
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A couple of weeks ago, Jeff Stouffer, a friend and business colleague of mine shared with me a very compelling article published by MIT Sloan. It resonated with me as it nicely articulated and validated a key dynamic that I've experienced in practice.

Curious to learn more? Read on, dear friends....Making Connections WorkElite open innovation practitioners leverage skilled idea connectors who deftly manage their internal expert network to meaningfully influence open innovation outcomes.

MIT Sloan published in its Fall Review, an article entitled, "Creating Employee Networks". In this piece, researchers describe the need for corporate "idea connectors" to intimately understand and exploit their internal expert and decision making networks. This, not the formal organizational chart is what often determines which opportunities are pursued (or not). The authors discuss a discipline that they refer to as ONA (Organizational Network Analysis), a systematic approach for studying and understanding resource flows and social relationships within organizations. An idea connector's ability to know how to successfully navigate an idea within an internal network versus simply "offloading it" to an evaluator (who may or may not have the time, interest or involvement needed to advance the opportunity) can represent the difference between success and failure. As an "idea scout" whose market finds feed corporate open innovation explorations, and someone with a financial stake in the outcomes, I have a deep interest in ensuring my customers' success. In staffing the corporate "technical gatekeeper" role, R&D management needs to assign the right persons with the proper interpersonal skills and organizational network knowledge and intelligence in order to ensure the greatest return on their investment. 

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