Shifting from traditional creativity to network and community innovation for SMEs

Market demand and technological developments are changing for most of the traditional SME's, who now see an increased need to innovate and become more creative than before.

Effective creativity and innovation incorporation, resulting in increased competitiveness, involves intervention programmes with supporting measures,rather than relying solely on natural progression. Mostly, measures associated with the process of creativity and innovation in organisations do not follow cause-and-effect rationale, reflecting non-linear behaviour. As a consequence, these measures limit the opportunities .

Network Analsis and learning environments such as communities can help transition from the traditional single technnological innovation to a broader learning perspective which would allow for multilple and more radical innovations. Another aspect is that this approach in time provides a shift from single-idea originators (owners of SME) to a wider ranger of innovators in the SME or in the network.

The questions that arises are:

  • how can SME's be more competitive by increasing their innovative capabilities through their networks?
  • How can they shift from traditional single-idea originators to networked innovators without losing their competitive advantages?

The answer to these questions is not easy, but there are some guidelines that can be used as part of the New Projects methodology. The most important things to consider when trying to make this shift is to think about:

  • How is the social network connectivity from each of the employees, and which are the boundary spanners that have greater innovative capabilities? What do the networks look like and what do the communities look like?
  • How is the social network fit with the technological need?
  • What are the strategic capabilities of the SME/organization to perform a leadership change inside the company?
  • What resources are available in time and money to perform this shift, and create New Projects though stage-gate processes?
  • What community or peer decision processes can be taken to define what opportunity or what creative / innovation project can be lead by the company?
  • What are the mid- and long term implications of networked innovation?

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