Looking to Boost Innovation? Partner with a Startup.

Learning & Innovation Technology & Operations
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This article presents a four-step process for managing collaborative projects through the example of a three-way project for building an online tool for assessing equipment risks in a large Norwegian hospital. The authors recommend: 1) Identifying the most valuable problem to solve; 2) making potential partners aware of the problem; 3) matching with partners who are a good cultural fit, and willing to put in the work; and 4) contracting for success. The ability to identify and work with partners is a powerful source of competitive advantage, particularly when it comes to creating new growth products, solutions, and business models. Finding the right partner can supercharge your company’s innovation. Sopra Steria, an IT consultancy specializing in digital transformation based in Paris, estimated that their efforts through Sopra Steria Scale-up, an ecosystem-based innovation initiative (headed by one of the authors of this article, Tobias Studer Anderrson), produced three times the innovation they developed internally one year. But how do you identify who to partner with? And how do you get these new partnerships to work? We have been studying how firms work in ecosystems, including with both familiar and uncommon partners, to co-create new value. This experience helped us identify some best practices, particularly around how to identify uncommon partners, how to prepare them to work together, and how to make the collaboration last. Sopra Steria’s recent project in equipment risk assessment for Norway’s Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital (SRH) is one of several dozens of examples that we have studied that showcase some of these practices. SRH had been a client of Sipra Steria for many years when it asked Sopra Steria to help streamline its security assessment of new medical equipment — scanners, testing platforms, automatic lung ventilators, and such. When this kind of equipment arrives at the hospital, its security advisors need to assess the risks associated with using it, including cybersecurity, compliance with privacy regulations (GDPR), and the equipment’s compatibility with the existing IT infrastructure. Normally, each individual assessment takes around 100 hours and is an unstructured manual process. Sopra Steria did not have the capabilities internally to carry out this assignment on its own — and agreed with SRH that a third party should be recruited to work with Sopra Steria and SRH. Here’s how Sopra Steria Scale-up set about creating the three-way partnership: Step 1: Identify the most valuable problem to solve. Successful ecosystem partnerships are based on deep understanding of the customer or partner problem to be solved, rather than just an assumption or after-the-fact rationalization for an ecosystem. SRH determined that security assessment was an area where it was wasting valuable resources. Given the high healthcare standards in Norway and an expected wave of new medical equipment arriving to the hospitals, SRH determined that no off-the-shelf risk assessment tools were a good fit. Responding to the customer’s need, Sopra Steria initiated a design exercise to understand SRH’s real needs. SRH broke down the process of its own risk assessment into a sequence of 40 different activities and highlighted pain points that it wanted solving. The two organizations then identified the top pain points that could unlock the most value, if solved. As a result, they determined that SRH needed a process tool to reduce assessment time as well as to enable collaboration across different hospitals. Always relying on known partners can provide suboptimal results, because these partners will only provide you with known capabilities. While relying on known capabilities is comforting, it will narrow your search space and prevent you from identifying non-obvious solutions. When you add what we call uncommon partners, they bring the capabilities that you did not know you needed. The problem is uncommon partners might not know that you need them. So if you want your ecosystem to have a mix of common and uncommon partners, you need to have the uncommon partners find you. For example, Sopra Steria did not have the internal capabilities to solve SRH’s problem itself. To identify a partner that did have these capabilities, it created an event called the Sopra Steria Scale-up Challenge, which brought 30 start-ups together. Read from source….

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