Harnessing The Power of Innovation Through Collaboration, with Saul Kaplan, Episode #3

Innovation is not simply making tweaks to an existing thing, it’s changing the fundamental structure of that thing to provide greater value to the end user. That’s how my guest, Saul Kaplan thinks of innovation, and one of the main ways he encourages corporations to harness the power of innovation is through collaboration. In this conversation, Saul and I talk about what collaboration really is, how we can be sure we’re open to the voices of others in a truly collaborative effort, and what the leaders of corporations need to do these days to make the most of the disruptions that are sure to come in their industry.

Through innovation and collaboration we change the way we deliver value and solve problems.

There are many examples these days of companies that have disrupted their industry by providing a new solution to an age-old problem. Take Uber and Lyft for example. Their “ride-sharing” approach has revolutionized the transportation industry, creating greater experiences and value for passengers and drivers alike. Saul Kaplan says these are companies that have truly innovated, transforming an entire industry. His desire is to see more and more companies not just adapting to disruptions but getting out ahead of them, causing them, for the sake of providing tremendous benefit to society as a whole. In this conversation Saul and I talk about how that can happen, so be sure you take the time to listen.

Too many people like to say they are collaborating when they’re really just using people to further their own agenda.

When I asked Saul Kaplan how he defines collaboration he quickly pointed out that true collaboration is not what most people think it is. He says many people think they are collaborating simply because they’ve asked someone else to help them accomplish what they have already determined should be done. But true collaboration starts with openness to new ideas and solutions from the beginning. It enables more perspectives to inform the approach to answering problems and brings new, creative, often disruptive solutions as a result. Saul has such a clear way of thinking about these things and the work he’s doing with the team at The Business Innovation Factory is truly groundbreaking. I hope you take the time to listen to this conversation and learn from Saul’s years of experience.

Collaboration is the secret to transforming things instead of just tweaking them.

True innovation changes the fundamental nature of addressing problems rather than simply taking a different viewpoint or making minor modifications. Saul Kaplan says that innovation through collaboration is the way forward and those who take the time to unlearn the old models of doing business that are steeped in the industrial era and relearn how to foster collaboration. Leaders who can do so are the ones who will transform and empower society. That’s a huge way of thinking – and it’s part of what makes Paul’s approach to business so exciting. I invite you to take the time to listen as Saul and I discuss the power of collaboration to truly innovate across disciplines and industries, on this episode of Masters of Leadership.

Business leaders: Get ready to change business models many times over the course of your career.

One of the most obvious examples of what the future holds for businesses is the way Netflix has revolutionized the distribution and consumption of video entertainment. Their “movies by mail” business model brought Blockbuster and its retail-store model to its knees. But the innovations of the Netflix team didn’t stop there. They stayed ahead of the curve by foreseeing the next consumption pattern for video entertainment – streaming – and pioneered a scalable model that has dictated the path the industry will take for the near future. That’s two business models the company has developed within the past 15 years or so. It’s an example of the way business leaders need to be thinking as technology and collaboration open the door to greater ways of delivering the answers to consumer problems. Saul Kaplan joins me on this episode to talk about the way collaboration spawns innovation, so don’t miss it.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:25] What does collaboration mean to Saul Kaplan?
  • [4:13] The things it takes to unleash collaboration across industries and disciplines.
  • [6:50] Saul’s most successful collaborations and what made them so effective.
  • [9:42] A lesson-learned in collaboration: the role of a true catalyst.
  • [13:52] How corporations can make collaboration a daily behavior and measure its ROI.
  • [19:00] Examples of corporate leaders who have gotten out of the old models.
  • [25:03] Techniques Saul recommends to encourage inclusiveness and transparency.
  • [28:20] Tips for those who want to master collaboration: learning out loud.
  • [32:58] How to best connect with Saul personally.

Resources & People Mentioned

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