Peer-to-peer innovation and New Product Development in action
An article from Idea Time team member Alejandro Perez Ibiricu
Bringing people together from different companies has multiple benefits for everyone who participates. People learn from each other, get the opportunity to help others and put their new insights into practice in their own businesses.
Earlier this month our Managing Director, Jo North, facilitated an innovation event for a number of Yorkshire manufacturing businesses to experience how knowledge and experience exchange between different types of companies can help them grow and develop new products.
The event was the first in a series of events that will be held with the businesses over the next few weeks. This industry collaboration programme is being run and led by PAPI, which stands for ‘Product and Process Innovation’. PAPI, an ERDF funded project, helps small businesses in York, North Yorkshire, East Riding and Leeds City Region develop innovative new products by providing grants for equipment. The PAPI team is at the University of York.
Have you heard of coopetition?
Coopetition is when companies, who may sometimes be competitors, collaborate for mutual benefit, building on the concept that “a rising tide lifts all boats”. In the case of new product development, coopetition can help businesses improve process efficiencies, resolve supply chain challenges, learn about new technologies and generate ideas.
Jo designed an event specifically to provide the opportunity for the participating Yorkshire manufacturing businesses to come together with the specific, shared aim of exploring these challenges and opportunities together.
Getting to know you…
Jo worked her magic by helping everyone get to know each other and feel comfortable collaborating very quickly with her “speed dating” icebreaker, which was purposeful and fun!
This activity made the session more interactive and interesting for everyone.
The speed dating questions that got everyone started were:
- Something personal that you both have in common
- A big, hairy, audacious business goal each that you can share
- A shared, specific aspiration for participating in this project
- Something you can contribute to the project to help with the group’s aspirations
- The top three most important factors in your company’s success so far
- Your number one way of having the most fun ever
At the end of the speed dating session, the whole group collaborated to create an ‘answer profile’ for each delegate based on the responses they had collected about each other.
Into the nitty gritty
Each company gave a 5-minute presentation on their business – their core activities, differentiators, successes, challenges and opportunities. Delegates in the audience engaged in active listening and collected questions and insights from each presentation.
The participating companies were all in manufacturing, but from different sectors:
- Packaging market (Logistics)
- Construction hardware
Jo’s business experience, independence and facilitation skills meant that the businesses were able to open up quickly and identify the key themes and challenges that they all have in common.
Lee Taylor, from LDT Design inspired delegates with a presentation packed with relevant NPD case studies and top tips for successful NPD. His 6 top tips are:
- Choose the correct design partner so they can understand your business.
- Product team/ Project definition: define your team with specifications (this step is very important to avoid scope-creep and substantial delays).
- Project planning: break the project into different stages.
- Business resource: make sure that everything is in place.
- Project management/risk management: analyze the project and plan everything.
- Portfolio Strategy: have a pipeline for the short, medium and long term.
Then Professor Peter Ball, Chair of Operations Management, Director of Business & Community Engagement at York Management School shared industry collaboration examples from the aerospace, brewing and food and drink sectors based on his previous extensive and insightful research.
Get together and think!
The final session of the day created space for delegates to work together in small groups to explore how to tackle their shared challenges, learn from each other and get the most from the site visits, which will be the next phase of the programme.
Some of the themes included:
- Learning from each other’s manufacturing processes.
- Understanding different measures of success.
- Dealing with legacy technology and supplies as new items are introduced.
- Building collaborative design and production teams.
The delegates were awesome! They all participated brilliantly, shared knowledge generously and fully engaged with their peers from other companies.
The site visits are planned for next month, so I will be back then with an update!
Are you inspired to collaborate?
Would you like to run a collaboration awayday for your business, customers, suppliers or other companies in your sector? If so, download your free DIY Awayday Toolkit here. It’s packed with tips, tools and techniques that will help you to achieve a really successful event.
If you’d like any specific advice or tips, Jo would love to hear from you direct. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.