Creating collaborative partnerships

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Creating collaborative partnerships

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Chris Khang

Most companies recognize the importance of collaboration but tend to focus only on internal collaboration and teamwork. However, amazing and innovative ideas may sometimes come from the outside. Business leaders around the globe are realizing that taking a “go it alone” approach does not always bring success and can in fact hamper innovation. To win in today’s fast-changing and inevitably competitive world, it is highly important to look outside the company’s walls and build relationships with external partners.

Even established companies with years of experience can benefit from finding trusted partners to develop innovative ideas. Large companies with long histories can become entrenched in their own ways of doing business, making it difficult to find new solutions or see breakthrough ideas. To overcome these challenges, the most successful companies are collaborating with individuals and SMEs. In such cases, large companies are using their own strengths in production, logistics and marketing in conjunction with the strengths of their partners such as passion and an entrepreneurial spirit to improve efficiency, quality and speed.

While Korean companies certainly have a strong history of creating innovative ideas and products, there is a growing need to engage outside partners in more meaningful ways and recognize the value of collaboration in order to compete in global markets. As more Korean companies attempt to become global companies, it is critical for leaders to realize that innovative ideas can come from anywhere and that reaching out to partners in local markets will help them meet specific market needs. It is through such relationships that Korean firms will be able to drive innovation and create products and services that are able to compete globally.

“Open innovation” can deliver significant value, allowing corporations to increase their rate of innovation, differentiate themselves in the marketplace and achieve cost and efficiency savings.

For instance, GE has developed a close partnership with Quirky, a social product development company that brings new product ideas to life through its online collaborative platform with more than 860,000 community members worldwide. Through the partnership, GE will open its most promising patents and new technologies to the Quirky community for the development of new consumer products; and a co-branded product development initiative to build a full line of app-enabled connected devices for the home.

Combining GE’s technology and scale with Quirky’s collaborative process and speed, we were able to develop a range of connected devices for the home, including Aros - a smart window air conditioner that connects to users’ smartphones for control and monitoring of energy consumption. We wouldn’t have been able to develop such an innovative product and bring the product into the U.S. market in just three months on our own.

So, what is the secret for building solid relationships that will be mutually beneficial? Like all relationships, the foundation for collaborative partnerships must be based on trust. Lack of trust is the single biggest reason that companies hesitate to form partnerships for collaboration. Despite global recognition of the power of partnerships, concerns over protecting intellectual property, fear of talent poaching and an overall lack of trust continues to be obstacles for effective collaboration. As the most successful partnerships rely on dispersed decision making, all relevant information should be shared openly with partners.

Furthermore, business leaders need to be open to new ideas from unexpected sources and develop positive relationships that are mutually rewarding.

As all partnerships are ultimately about human relationships, successful collaboration is reinforced by leaders who understand the culture and the emotional component of working with others.

Collaborative partnerships between large companies, SMEs, academics, individuals and the government can help address the world’s toughest challenges. Leaders that realize the importance of collaboration and open innovation are putting their organizations in a position where they can best compete in an increasingly complex and changing environment.

By Chris Khang, president and CEO of GE Korea



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