Smart companies keep enemies closer

by | May 28, 2012

Think about some of the world’s biggest companies that have successfully diversified into areas unrelated to their original field of expertise. Apple, Virgin, Google and Sony are just some of the brands that successfully made the leap into completely different categories. It is interesting to note all the different fields Virgin has an interest in, particularly in the UK: Communications (including being a service provider for cable TV, the Internet and mobile phones), personal finance and even transport (Virgin Trains). What is the secret to the success of these companies successfully diversifying?

Photo: JamesZ_Flickr.

Photo: JamesZ_Flickr.

An interesting post at Fast Company’s blog may have the answer. Nick Keppel-Palmer’s article, In Innovation Today, The Smartest Companies Collaborate with Enemies, finds that credibility is more important capability and it’s easier for a trusted and well-known name to move into finance (like Virgin did) than it is for a bank to become trusted and adored.

A smarter way of conducting business is that these brands will “see themselves not as citadels that need defending but as causes that need joining. The most important, most effective, most impactful brands are those that have put petty competition behind them and embraced collaboration as an operating principle--it is their core DNA.”

This point of view reflects what the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, Peter Voser, said to IBM as part of the technology group’s in-depth CEO study.

In the past, some businesses had guarded their information and data without building connections to other organizations to benefit both parties. This is quite an old-fashioned way of thinking, according to Voser.

Forging strategic partnerships is a part of Shell’s core ideals. It’s a “win/win for both parties” when innovation rises out of these partnerships.

Read more about these smart companies here.

Jeffrey Tobias

About Jeffrey Tobias

Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well-known startups.

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Managing Director, The Strategy Group

Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well known startups. Jeffrey’s corporate background includes leading global innovation strategy at Cisco, working with large corporates such as Adobe, Westpac, Telstra, Woolworths, and Perpetual.

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