Does Collaboration = Innovation?

Many businesses are talking about improving their collaborative environments and providing better tools for their employees, in an effort to instill a culture of open communication that will drive innovation. This particularly true of companies adopting remote work policies and hiring talented individuals who are unwilling to relocate.

Yet according to a news story published by NBC in July of 2017  titled “Why Are Big Companies Calling Their Remote Workers Back to the Office?“, there are big companies that include Bank of America, Aetna, IBM, and Yahoo that are reversing their remote work programs and calling employees back into the office – even though many managers admit this approach has increased productivity.  One of the reasons cited in the article point to a need to reunite people in order to drive better innovation.

This to me is an indicator that while collaboration among remote workers can help increase productivity, the levels of interaction that initiate and drive creativity and innovation are falling short. It also begs the question –  which the companies in this article and more not noted, are struggling to answer. That questions: what is the goal of your collaborative environment, and is it suitable for all business units? Do you have a culture where innovation and change are welcome or is it one built on rigidity and closed to the possibility that everyone is capable of new ideas?

In My View

First, what does innovation mean to you and your business? Is it the creation of new ideas about products, services or ways-of-working and how do you build and support an innovative culture? When you think about innovation, are you thinking about improvement or invention? Innovation comes from within, we see something, we have an idea, and try to bring it to fruition. In many cases, this happens randomly – an idea or thought pops into your head. So what is the best way to promote innovation? Yes, collaboration is a big part of this, but as a friend of mine, Tom Koulopoulos, points out in his book titled “The Innovation Zone“, that “innovation is a process of change with measurable value. It causes fundamental changes in a business and processes, not just a product or service.”

Does collaboration = innovation? What do you think?

Bob Larrivee is a recognized expert in the application of advanced technologies and process improvement to solve business problems and enhance business operations. In his career, Bob has led many projects and authored hundreds of eBooks, Industry Reports, Blogs, Articles, and Infographics. In addition, he has served as host and guest Subject Matter Expert on a wide variety of webinars, Podcasts, Virtual Events, and lectured at in-person seminars and conferences around the globe.

Bob can be reached at and




Leave a Reply