Ways to diversify innovation communities

In a recent posting about the influence of ‘diversity in innovation communities’, I tried to elaborate on the role of this key element in the success of getting innovation results in a community. My conclusion, which was supported by a recent project I did with such a community, says that:

– Diversity is needed to create an innovation environment in the community

– Diversity leads mostly to increases interest and activity, opening up more opportunities for innovation to occur

The background details are in the full article, but one of the things that is not so much pointed out there is that of the three key elements for the creation of innovation community: context, sharing and diversity the first two are really to support the collaboration in the community of practice. The latter is the ingredient that allows the innovation to occur.

Diversity can come from many places, in the case described it was people from the same practice but different geographical regions (even continents) which caused the sense of diversity. A near-future plan here to further stimulate innovation for this element is to introduce social diversity, or having people from different work or experience backgrounds and jobs into the community. Unfortunately, due to the business value of innovation most communities of that kind are not going to be opened to a wide, uncontrolled audience – innovation and new ideas represent an incredible value… would this be possible then there would be a third way of stimulating diversity, namely the organizational diversity (for instance, customers or partners).

So, three ways to introduce diversity in innovation communities

  • geographical diversity (e.g. The Asia Office with The European Office)
  • social diversity (e.g. bringing sales people into a business development community)
  • organizational diversity (e.g. brining customers into the innovation community)

As soon as the innovation community is gearing up for radical innovation, the latter might be the key component for the transition….but as always: diversity is good in innovation communities, but control the ‘patches’!

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