A Guide to Innovation Value Webs
As we head towards The 3rd Digital Revolution, the rules of business are being rewritten. Technology is transforming how we operate in the corporate world, with every business becoming digitally-led. As a result, the most forward-thinking companies are constantly on the lookout for new ways of working that will enable them to stay one step ahead of the competition.
One way to do this is to develop a business model that breaks down the boundaries of traditional corporate communication. We call this practice “Innovation Value Webs” and here, I will explain the principles of deploying it in the workplace.
What is an Innovation Value Web?
An Innovation Value Web is a model that facilitates open innovation; both internally within an organisation and externally across its ecosystem, incorporating customers, suppliers and even competitors. It provides a new view of “how things get done” moving from simple collaboration to active cooperation.
“The configuration of networks your company has with its customers, suppliers and competitors will affect your competitive advantage”, Andrew Schipilov, Network Advantage
While collaboration requires a team to work together on a single goal, cooperation is about individuals performing together while working on personal goals, achieving more overall. The new relationships and interactions that result are highly dynamic, encouraging new insights, diversity of opinion and creativity.
Why do we need them?
Continuing economic uncertainty is making it increasingly difficult for organisations to drive value. This is especially true for large scale enterprises – their sheer size tends to increase inertia and reduce business agility.
As an organisation with 86,000 employees, this is a challenge we have faced ourselves. One of the initiatives we introduced internally to address it was the launch of our Scientific Community. This particular Value Web has 110 members, representing a rich mix of skills, backgrounds and bright minds. The members work to anticipate the upcoming technology disruptions and the impact that these will have; and this ensures that innovation remains at the core of our business strategy.
How do you deploy them?
Value Webs require total trust and transparency between peers. This goes beyond basic communication, with individuals being encouraged to break down organisational siloes and share their ideas, knowledge and skills more readily with others. This collaboration also makes it easier for firms to work with each other and extend their own offerings, opening up new revenue streams.
‘Intrapreneurship’ can also help drive successful Value Webs as it helps large corporates to replicate aspects of the start-up culture – including idea generations, confidence, risk-taking and humility. This dynamism helps organisations to transform their operational models. For instance, we’re seeing flatter structures, giving employees greater opportunities to align themselves with the tasks that interest them most. Firms are also becoming leaner and more agile as a result, delivering services faster with fewer resources.
Technology is transforming how businesses operate, forcing them to find new ways to get things done. Those enterprise scale firms that embrace the practices of Innovation Value Webs will drive up their productivity, and ultimately, increase their competitive advantage.
 Greve, H., Rowley, T. and Shipilov, A.: Network advantage, how to unlock value from your alliances and partnerships. Jossey-Bass (2014)