challenges. Innovation success rates are single digit percentages in most industries. And it turns out that the obstacles to success relate to the dif?culties most people and teams have collaborating! To make it past the starting gate, an idea must be championed effectively. In small organisations, and most especially start-ups, an idea may only need the ‘owner’. However, in big organisations, the original owner’s love of the idea may not be suf?cient. Ideas often require executive sponsorship to thrive in the cut-throat environments of multinationals. The competition is even ?ercer inside than out! So what makes a good champion? The key ingredients are of course things like smarts, passion and grit. But again, the champion with the emotional and social intelligence that makes for excellent collaboration will win every time. A collaborative champion is more likely to build the broad coalitions of support needed for ultimate success. In other words, a great champion attracts other champions. It’s viral. Steve Jobs at Apple says “To turn really interesting ideas and ?edgling technologies into a company that can continue to innovate for years, requires a lot of disciplines!” I say you have to be multi-disciplined. The idea that bene?ts from being touched and developed by many diverse disciplinary perspectives will win over others less fortunate. To build a better mouse trap, don’t hire a bunch of mechanical engineers. Hire one of those, a few other types of engineers, a marketer,… and most especially a mouse! Learning to communicate is always the challenge, but the key is to engage as many and as rich a diversity mix as possible. Again, the natural collaborators have the advantage! One also has to be multi-disciplined in terms of the innovation process. The idea that has a solid business case at the point of a “go-no-go” decision is more likely to succeed. A delayed decision, or a delay in development, will often have disastrous consequences. Over many different projects and industries analysed within the MIT Innovation Lab, we’ve observed that a delay of six months will, on average, double the development cost and reduce the eventual market success by half. Further, the discipline to kill a project that is already underway is also needed. The cost of proceeding to market with the wrong offering can far outweigh the costs of damaged egos, or even a major hit on the stock market. Tough minded, disciplined decision-making is required end-to-end. Here too, collaborators will have the edge over non-collaborators. We certainly don’t need decisions by committees, but the collaborator will be more likely to hold all the key facts than the non-collaborator. Another discipline that’s required is to look in the mirror occasionally. Get a friendly customer to hold one up for you, and have a good, hard look. Is your offering getting a little gray, or frayed around the edges? Is it time for a refresh? Have you become a one trick pony? Is it time to add something new and exciting to your portfolio of offerings? Do you have a portfolio? Even multinationals with extensive product portfolios have “gone bust” in part by becoming too tied to a particular niche. Stand too close to something like the Internet when it’s about to implode, and you might lose, big time! Ask Nortel. Oh, sorry, they’re not around to ask anymore. Again, the individual or company that has lots of relationships, and solid ones, will be better able to ask for mirroring, better able to really listen to and understand the feedback, and also better able to engage in partnering to help move from their niche into other valuable realms. Advantage, collaborators! A healthy organisation needs a range of offerings, and constant investment in keeping the offerings fresh. But not at the expense of focus. A discordant portfolio is the worst of all worlds. If you have a great idea for something that doesn’t ?t your Only great ideas should be nurtured and raised up through the innovation process 25 A healthy organisation needs a range of offerings, and constant investment in keeping the offerings fresh.