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7 Things You Need to Build an Innovation Community

Innovation communities come in all sizes and shapes. They exist in organizations, for -profits and non-profits, at the regional, national and international level and they cut across all industry domains. SopE is an example of an international, biomedical innovation community. Creating, launching and sustaining an innovation community is another story. Here are the 7 elements of successful innovation communities.


VISION/MISSION: Innovation means different things to different people, so it's important to define what innovation looks like. In the case of SoPE, our vision is to create the largerst medical entrepreneurship network in the world to accomplish our mission-helping members get their ideas to patients and markets.

STRATEGY: Figure out how you are going to achieve your visions and meet your objectives. Decide on a model that can be tested, and ,like any startup , experiment, monitor the results and tweek what needs to be fixed

LEADERSHIP: Innovation communities consist of multiple members, but can't be led by committee. There has to be a passionate champion who can recruit associates, strategic allies and others who will follow

STRUCTURE: Choose an organizational structure that meets the needs of the community, not vice versa. Form follows function and there are lots of ways to skin the cat
PROCESS: Bureaucracy, red tape and cumbersome procedure will strangle innovation. You will have to balance the need for management controls with the need to maintain the joy and flexibility of enterpreneurial organizations
CULTURE: Perhaps the hardest of all. Culture is about "how we do things around here". It's created by everything from the working environment, to the people you hire, to the clothes they wear to how they talk and do their work
METRICS: After all, you get what you measure so be careful what you measure. Define your outcomes associated with innovation and however many levels are appropriate and hold people accountable to those benchmarks


Creating an innovation community, whether at your company, your hospital, your practice, your univeristy or your non-profit only happens if you create an environment and create the structures and processes to make them successful. As someone noted, failure to innovate is not about not having an innovative culture, it's about not having leadership to make it happen.

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