Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Are you networked for successful innovation?

MIT Sloan Management Review recently published "Are you networked for successful innovation?" by Professor Polly Rizova of Boston University.

Based on in-depth study of six projects in the R&D lab of a Fortune 500 corporation, Rizova summarizes four key factors behind successful innovation:
  1. Strong corporate support
  2. Open communication without formal reporting
  3. A "technical star" who is central in the technical-advice network
  4. A “managerial star” who is central in the organizational-advice network
Interestingly, Rizova also looked at information-sharing networks and friendship networks, and found these much less relevant than the factors listed above.

Rizova acknowledges that these four factors alone are not enough--they must reinforce each other in order to work. She goes on to discuss the complementary values of the technical-advice and organizational-advice networks, and how people's actual roles in these networks can help inform their explictly prescribed roles in the organization.

This article is a must-read for leaders of R&D units.

It's also a great SNA case study for those wondering exactly which social networks are relevant to their organizational goals. This is one of the hottest questions going in the ONA community of practice (which spawned from the SNA Jump Start conference). For a good follow-up case study, see also David Krackhardt's HBR classic about technical-advice and trust networks.

Thanks to Francesca Grippa for alerting me to this article.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 License and is copyrighted (c) 2006 by Connective Associates except where otherwise noted.

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