Supply chain issues, the rise of new technologies, inflation and political unrest all contribute to an ever-evolving landscape where companies must innovate and collaborate to stay ahead of the curve. As a result, organisations are leaning on business consultants and firms to provide expert guidance and solutions to ensure their organisations can navigate these global challenges.

This article delves into the significance of collaboration and innovation in business and how enhancing your knowledge and skills can see you thrive in this dynamic environment.

Innovation in business examples

When you think of innovation, what comes to mind? Countless examples of business innovations have significantly impacted industries and how we do business. Here are a few standouts that have shaped our society in more recent times.

  • Online shopping. The introduction of online shopping transformed the retail industry by allowing consumers to shop from home at any time of the day or night.
  • Subscription-based streaming services. Companies like Netflix and Spotify paved the way for a new era in on-demand entertainment and changed how we consume media.
  • Social media. Facebook revolutionised how we connect and engage with each other, and other platforms followed suit with microblogging, sponsored content, paid ads, visual content sharing and professional networking.
  • Mobile payment systems. To meet a growing trend towards a cashless society, mobile payment systems like Apple Pay and Google Wallet have made it easier and more convenient for consumers to purchase goods and services.
  • Artificial intelligence. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has opened doors for businesses of all sizes to automate, analyse and improve their products and services.
  • The sharing economy. Companies like Airbnb and Uber have challenged traditional business models by introducing new ways to travel.

How does collaboration drive business innovation?

Brett Wiskar is a respected innovation commentator, keynote speaker and the Chief Future Officer at Wiley. He explains that collaboration and innovation play a vital role in business success through the business concept known as ‘explore and exploit’.

Based on this model, Wiskar says companies exploit by “taking its resources, human capital, systems, intellectual property and customer data and using it to make money”. But he advises that the exploit strategy on its own may not suffice.

“Businesses that focus solely on the ‘exploit’ component of this model position themselves to become obsolete at some point. So what we have to do as business strategists is actively engage in the ‘explore’ component.”

During both the explore and exploit phases, collaboration and innovation are interwoven. Innovation can emerge during the exploit phase by improving and enhancing existing products and services – this is par for the course in business. Innovation in the explore phase pushes familiar boundaries to examine new concepts and ideas across different markets, products and business models, which calls for more skill diversity.

For innovation to succeed, there needs to be a culture of collaboration within workplaces. After all, it wasn’t a single mastermind who first landed a man on the moon, invented a game-changing iPhone or created a supercharged Tesla. It was a team of people who shared their skills, knowledge and thirst for change.

How to foster a culture of collaboration and innovation

Fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation starts by building diverse teams and leading by example to show people that it’s okay to try and fail.

“It’s important to celebrate that people tried,” says Wiskar. “Celebrate what you learned. Because if you knew the outcome, it wouldn’t be innovation. It would be an initiative.”

One of the most valuable systems you can implement is ‘intrapreneurship’. This concept gives employees the freedom and resources to think outside the square, contribute ideas and take calculated risks when developing new products and services that may benefit the organisation.

Incorporating innovation-friendly policies like Google’s 80/20 approach — giving employees 20 per cent of their work time to pursue passion projects — can inspire creativity and lead the way for change. This long-standing policy has led to the launch and success of Gmail and Google Maps, among other products.

Embracing these strategies can cultivate a collaborative and innovative workplace that nourishes creativity and benefits the company and its employees.

Roadblocks to innovation

Innovation can be a daunting process for business owners and management teams. And like any form of change, some obstacles can slow progress and growth.

Common roadblocks to innovation include:

  • Siloed thinking. When departments and teams operate in silos, they can fail to communicate effectively and share skills, which can stifle the exchange of ideas and hinder innovation.
  • Unrealistic expectations. There is no certainty when it comes to innovation, so embracing the process and loosening the reins on expectations around timelines, costs and outcomes is essential.
  • Fear of failure. The risk of failure can be a significant barrier to innovation. It’s important to understand that failure is a natural part of the innovation process, and failing can provide the insight you need to succeed moving forward.
  • Resistance to change. It’s human nature for some employees to resist change, so how you manage innovation projects is important. Structure teams with intent, communicate passionately, explore design thinking, set challenging and achievable targets and fast-track conflict resolution if resistance arrives at your door.
  • Short-term thinking. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is innovation success. Innovation can take time, so adopting a longer-term perspective is best.

Embrace the future, and don’t wait to innovate

The future of business is shrouded in uncertainty thanks to inflation, rising interest rates, supply chain disruptions and other global factors. These challenges have created an environment where companies and professionals must be agile and adaptable to stay ahead of the game.

“How we do business could change dramatically over the next decade,” says Wiskar. “Anybody sitting on a business that they think will remain the same is in trouble.”

Wiskar advises that to enact change and adopt an innovation mindset, employers and senior employees need to “consider studying an MBA focused on innovation and collaboration as a skill set”. He says it’s about giving people a strong understanding of how to future-proof their tomorrows. “Because the market conditions of 2019 aren’t coming back.”

So, which MBA is best?

James Cook University offers an online Master of Business Administration Global that gives students a data-driven global business perspective, focusing on business innovation and technology management.

Victoria University also offers the Master of Business Administration (MBA) to help students better understand managing innovation and entrepreneurship.

But which one should you study?

The primary difference between each course comes down to the units that are offered. While JCU ‘s MBA  program delves more deeply into analytics and corporate strategy, VU’s MBA program tackles behaviour and strategic management. Choosing between the two will come down to your interests and objectives for completing the course.

Enrol in an online MBA today

The days of siloed departments and isolated decision-making are a thing of the past, and innovation is here to stay. To invest in your future and stay ahead of the curve, consider speaking with a student enrolment advisor about studying innovation as part of an MBA program.

Speak to a Student Enrolment Advisor

Whether you’re ready to enrol, or just have a quick question, simply fill out the enquiry form below to speak directly to the university’s enrolment team. They will be able to guide you through:

Course eligibility and recognition of prior learning

Course structure and what you will study

Next intakes and how to apply

Fees and time commitments