Kevan Hall, CEO of Global Integration shares his experiences having recently attended a business trip to Silicon Valley.
On my recent visit to Silicon Valley I was struck by the paradox of new technology companies who were operating globally, born comfortable with technology, yet trying to bring everyone together on a common campus or being uncomfortable with remote working.
As I start work on my next book I have been looking at this paradox in relation to R&D. On the one hand we have the undoubted critical mass, serendipity and connectedness that comes from co-location or physical clusters. On the other the fact that we need to access increasingly distributed global knowledge and expertise about our customers, markets and technologies. The challenges of globalization.
Most organizations still do most of their high value R&D in their home markets. The increasing number of distributed R&D centres are often engaged in localisation or lower value projects.
But what is the chance that over time these important home locations will always be in the right places to incubate innovation – will they be located in growth markets, with access to the best skills and proximity to the most important sources of learning.
It seems that the logic of distributed innovation is compelling, if only we can make the process of creativity, communication and collaboration work better across distance.
There may be areas where being remote can be a positive advantage. For example, despite the myth of brainstorming, it has long been clear that a group of individuals working separately will come up with more ideas than a team of the same people,working collectively. We also know that communicating through technology (when facilitated properly) can break down some of the barriers of culture and hierarchy and encourage different forms of collaboration and openness. Idea generation then may be actively improved by organizing it remotely.
More to come in this subject as our research continues. Please let us know if you have any experiences of distributed global innovation.