Front End Innovation: The Creative Conspiracy

Leigh Thompson in “Creative Conspiracy: The New Rules of Breakthrough Collaboration” (Harvard University Press 2013), discusses that when collaboration is conscious, planned, and shared with others, excitement builds and a conspiracy develops. She states, “Creative collaboration is the ability of teams and their leaders to organize, motivate, and combine talent to generate new and useful ideas. Teams that conspire to commit creative and innovative acts are engaged in a creative conspiracy.” These stakeholders are crucial in the development of breakthrough innovation.

Working at the Front End of Innovation, iP2Biz, has noted that often an “adhoc” internal team of relevant participants, in conjunction with an external partner, provide an anonymous view of relevant external technology. This is an exceptionally effective manner in sorting through, iterating, and perhaps rejecting a potential innovative idea. This is the real world creative conspiracy.

When the creative process kicks in via a combination of targeted analysis and discussion, highlighted with various points of view, the result is a “straw man” project. This project develops with an action plan for further analysis if potential is seen, and invariably the project picks up tentative “sponsors” (or executives within the corporation) who believe there is potential for breakthrough innovation (subject to specified future analysis).  The seeds of the Creative Conspiracy have now formed around the straw man project.

If further analysis does not support the project or even an enhanced version of the original straw man project, participants drop out.  However, in the rare cases the project is supported and enthusiasm grows, the supporters of the idea buy into the conspiracy. In essence, they align to support the straw man project and push for its success because each participant believes there is some value. This conspiratorial team begins intensive planning. How to win management support? How to gain a budget?

Leigh Thompson states this is integral to the innovative culture of a corporation as the creative conspiracy fosters because, “the teams that can meet the creative challenges posed to them are the hallmark of the most successful organizations.” iP2Biz agrees, but perhaps success at the Front End of Innovation is defined by the creation of a loyal “sponsorship” team willing to commit, time, energy and reputation to the Innovation.



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