Distance Does Not Mean Disruption But It Does Mean Dissemination Discipline
In one of the most detailed analysis pertaining to capabilities for engaging disparate groups in the focused effort of innovation creation and validation, Creating Ideas for Innovation – Effects of Organizational Distance on Knowledge Creation Processes” lays down the ground work for not only understanding that ( among other things ) the number of patents generated in a 12 months period can directly indicate how ideation output, in terms of “value” is inter-related with organizational focus and also in the way particular participants in the design and innovation process hold their distances from each other and the work they are focusing on. More, that whereas more radical innovations are furthered by weak ties, incremental innovations instead seem to benefit from stronger communication ties regardless inter and intra the organization in terms of the distance and organizational structure needed to see design and innovation through to its end goal: usage. Unseen communication between seemingly separate groups, individuals, and organisms are in fact not nearly as separate as one might think, and the numbers speak for themselves.
One possible way of making sense of these somewhat surprising observations is that there may be a need for stronger integration mechanisms that can help colleagues from different departments to overcome initial issues related to cognitive distance and something that we are surely seeing in these days of incredibly increased video conferencing activities.
In the end, what type of innovation is aimed for and which knowledge creation processes are most central for the corresponding ideation needs means increased success for the firm. Apples and trains only go together when it’s time to have pie in the dining car but not in apples to apples comparisons for when to you innovation where.