Fire up Innovation! Why Community Dynamics Should Spring to Mind

Peter Drucker once said “The enterprise that does not innovate ages and declines. And in a period of rapid change such as the present the decline will be fast”. These words are truer than ever. Without innovation a company will not be able to stand out from its competitors in the long run and will gradually fall into oblivion.

But what do we mean by innovation?

Innovation emerges from the use and combination of information held by individuals, hence the constant and growingimportance given to knowledge management in companies.

The Oslo Manual jointly developed by the OECD and Eurostat provides a framework for the concept of innovation and defines it as follows:

Innovation refers to a new or improved product or process (or combination of both) that differs significantly from a unit’s previous products or processes and has been made available to potential users (product) or implemented by the unit́ (process).

What are the different types of innovation?

The concept of innovation is much broader than is usually understood by the mere word “innovation”. It is not only limited to “product” innovation, which is usually the first idea that comes to mind when talking about innovation, but can also define the improvement of a production process. The Oslo Manual stipulates 4 main types of innovation:

  • Product innovation: creation of a new product or service
  • Process innovation: creation or improvement of a new production or distribution method
  • Marketing innovation: a change in a marketing method (design, packaging, product pricing, etc.)
  • Organisational innovation: implementation of a new organisational method involving a change in working methods.

How can Collaboration Impact Innovation?

Innovation can of course emerge from a single individual, but several individuals together form a much greater creative potential. Most organisations are looking to harness both internal and external collaborative dynamics. Depending on their objective, some will turn to concepts such as “open innovation” to benefit from the knowledge of a larger group, while others will turn to communities of practice (whether piloted or not) in order to capitalise on the knowledge of a smaller group. In either case, the idea is to tap into the potential of collective intelligence and to drive collaborative innovation in order to remain competitive in a constantly changing market.

Setting up a collaborative area: please see our article in a published in a previous newsletter:

Adapt your community to the type of innovation you are looking for require

Just as there are different types of innovation, there are also different degrees of innovation. Innovation does not only refer to radical innovations like the invention of the rocket. Here, the Oslo manual defines 2 degrees of innovation:

  • Radical innovation: refers to the creation of something completely new
  • Incremental innovation: improving the existing

Depending on the objective that the organisation is seeking to achieve, it may, for example, set up different types of controlled communities, including for example a strategic exploration or an operational exploitation community. [1].

Differences among piloted communities [2]
COP exploration strategiesCOP operational exploitation
ObjectivesDevelopment of strategic and innovative knowledgeProcess optimisation implemented on the basis of an exchange of best practices
GovernanceStrategic objectives defined jointly by the sponsor and the manager
Operational objectives determined by the manager. Low level of sponsor interaction
SteeringActive support from the hierarchy via the sponsor
The manager checks quality levels among members and coordinates their meetings

Which are the key stages for implementing piloted communities?

At MindForest, thanks to our many years of experience, we have developed our own methodology for implementing piloted communities, which we have sequenced into 3 main stages. These steps attribute a structure to the approach that organisations can undertake, whilst maintaining awareness of the importance of allowing these communities to retain a certain level of autonomy in order to reach their full potential.

Stages Main objectives
Planning a Community of Practice
Provide the COP with a clear structure:
• Dynamics of community functioning
• Reporting structure
• Leadership & governance
• Collaborative area
Running a COP

Create collaborative routines and maintain momentum
Encouraging a COP to evolve
Adjust functional processes and encourage communities to evolve

Do you want to set up a piloted community within your company?

MindForest uses its expertise to help you manage innovation so that it becomes a competitive asset for the development of your organisation. Contact us today at

[1] Bootz, L’évolution du manager : un pilote de communauté de pratique entre l’expert et l’intrapreneur (2013)
[2] Bootz, L’évolution du manager : un pilote de communauté de pratique entre l’expert et l’intrapreneur (2013)