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Author's profile photo Gerd Ehrhardt

How Leaders Can Ride on Top of the Waves of Innovation

In an age of hyper-scalable businesses, staying abreast of innovation is crucial to the sustainability of every organization. However, as we have seen through the decade of digital transformation, many giants have had challenges to do that, at times because the innovation was exceptionally “true” (e.g., cloud and big data), but at other times because they did not pay heed to the rising watershed from existing ideas (e.g., social, smartphone, and the consequent rise of mobility).

Considered one of the best books on the topic of why most companies miss out on new waves of innovation, “The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business” by Clayton M. Christensen is one of my favorite business books. It talks about changing technology, its role, and its importance to organizational success. Being heavily involved in the transformation and successful migration of an organization to the cloud, I like to summarize what I could learn about the answer to the question, “What can a leader do to pioneer game-changing solutions through leading collaboration networks?” Here are my three answers:


Networking is crucial, creating a reliable ecosystem for your company. This is best achieved by focusing on building relationships based on mutual collaboration with units of the leader’s company, its customers, its partners, and supporting startups. The benefits of such collaboration networks are limitless. Based on shared values, these netorks not only breed co-creation but also create different cultures of collaboration that support pooling of diversified knowledge, experiences, and insights, allowing all the partners to leverage opportunities (and realize new innovations) well beyond the network. With the right collaboration network, a thought leader is able to challenge and improve state-of-the-art implementations, and design and help shape future generations of products, solutions, and services of its organization.


To remain abreast of innovation, a leader must leverage collaboration to identify, realize, or find newer horizons. She/he must become a thought leader and drive entrepreneurial spirit and engineering excellence in her/his network. The idea is to explore unconventional ideas and develop inspiring proofs of concepts to push the state-of-the-art in science and to apply fields to gain foresight into future trends. This requires indentifying strengths, inputs, and possible data that collaborating partners bring (or can bring) to the table.


Leaders have access to business critical data, one that speaks about the trends in market, the changing consumer demands, and business intelligence from their competitors. As a thought leader, you also have access to data from collaborating partners, and hence can reinforce organic innovation by letting a transparent exchange of external and internal ideas from leading partners and top startups within your own collaboration network, and one’s they are part of. This is possible if leaders start directing and influencing the focus of their collaboration networks on disruptive technologies and new domains.

What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts on the matter.

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