My intervention as a guest lecturer to the Executive MBA of the Audencia School of management was the occasion to reflect on cross-innovation together with a group of 20 international students attending this master course. I am used to face an audience of creative professionals, artists, researcher and local administrators, so for this session I had to modify usual pitch.
Cross-sectoral innovation is a specific kind of open innovation. In the analysed cases, it is about bringing people, products and processes typical of the world of arts and culture in new arenas, such as non-cultural enterprises and organisations, to improve their competitiveness, sustainability and their innovation processes. This means that different players get involved in the co-construction of a collaborative project, in a defined period of time and in a defined space.
Cross-innovation requires certain conditions to happen, e.g. geographical proximity and an intense cooperation. This cooperation is mainly built by match-making the competences of an artist or a creative professional with the needs and challenges of the recipient organisation.
Putting it simple
“As an employer or as an entrepreneur, have you ever went back home after a working day with the feeling that something in your organization is going wrong or that you have something to improve? It may be that your managers do not go along among each other, or may be your organisation is growing fast and you hired so many new people that the values of your company have been watered down. Another reason is that the globalisation and the digital shift reduced the profits of traditional economy, proposing a production model of delocalization of the production to enjoy the low costs of resources in developing countries.
For this reason for a European corporation (or company) it is mandatory to compete on the bases of quality and added value of its products and services rather than on the prices.
Cross-innovation allows to modify the value-chain of the outputs of an organization, to generate up-to-market solutions that can justify a higher price for the consumer.
Another reason resides in the inner role of culture and creativity in the society and in the evolution of the role of the artists in our society: in fact creative professionals can use their skills as a quasi-economic asset to be sold as innovation competence to the wider economy. This enables the engagement of the staff working for a company, to make easier the identification with the values of the employer, and to facilitate the participation in an open innovation process.
Cross-sectoral innovation is the diffusion of knowledge (spillover) with a steered method. Knowledge can be transferred in any case between different sectors whenever there is a condition of proximity, nevertheless when the process is managed, we can accelerate and coordinate the diffusion of it. It can also benefit the modernisation of the public administration.
The students were introduced to 3 practical examples of cross-innovation:
-An artistic intervention in an organisation, such as what Conexiones improbables does in Spain
-A cross-innovation platform made by inter-disciplinary group of students, such as Demola in Finland
-A creativity marathon, such as Museomix on arts, research and science, in France
The international students worked then in teams with raw domestic materials to build a sculpture representing 1 common point for the people composing every team, in order to reflect to a team-led creative process. The ingredients were found in a shoe-box on the desk, under the tagline “think out of the box”.