Professor William Fischer on the risks and advantages of co-innovation: “Benchmarking innovation practices,” interviewed by Paul Hunter.

Companies pursuing a strategy of co-innovation can mess up in two ways: changing too little or changing too much.

IMD Professor Howard Yu and IMD Senior Research Fellow Jean-Louis Barsoux


Shifting industry boundaries mean that change is happening faster and coming at us from all directions. It is becoming harder to keep up by innovating alone.

According to Caroline Firstbrook, managing director for strategy at Accenture in EMEA and Latin America, “Technology has become so specialized now that nobody can afford to do everything at the highest level and you have to partner with a specialist.”

Businesses are increasingly looking to suppliers, vendors, lead users, consumers, partner organizations, university labs and independent inventors for new ideas and insights. But pursuing a strategy of co-innovation is harder than it sounds. Companies must find the sweet spot between reticence and recklessness.

As Barbara Kux, a board member of Total and Henkel, puts it:

“The future of competitiveness is no longer about one company against another; it’s much more about one network against another network. The company that is able to form and establish the best network with the best partners will be the winner in the future.”