Sustainable innovation requires structured methods. But it also requires collaboration and information sharing among colleagues. Innovation is a team sport - groups produce better results than the lone genius. So how do you create a more favorable context for collaboration and sharing in your business unit?
Reputation is what matters. The degree to which a technical worker will share information with a colleague depends on that colleague's reputation for returning the favor. The rule of reciprocity states that people give back to those in the form they have received from others. It is a social rule taught by every human society to its members - you give back to those who have given to you. But the key is: to make the first move. You have to be seen as someone who gives and shares information with others, and has a reputation for returning the favor when others give to you.
Asking for help may be the most powerful yet underutilized resource available for innovators. Researchers Francis Flynn and Vanessa Bohns found that people grossly underestimate the rate that others are willing to help when asked. As a result, we more often fail to ask for help when the likelihood was very high the other person would have said ‘yes.’ Consider this study they conducted at Columbia University: