A new hands-on tool for managing cross-industry innovation

Bart Devoldere, Post-doctoral Research Associate at Vlerick Business School

dr. Bart Devoldere, post-doctoral research associate at Vlerick Business School, is specialized in business model design. His work on cross-industry innovation is based on in-depth case study research and is jointly developed with Marion Debruyne, Mathias Boënne, Dimitry Lameire, and Hanne Blockx.

Tool developed in collaboration with Flanders DC

A cross-industry mind-set and innovation is here to stay

Today and tomorrow, the secret of business success in the financial services industry (like most other industries) is in the development of the most innovative and creative ideas. In this type of economy, inspiration is a vital criterion for survival. And why would the best inspiration for new ideas be confined within your own, limited industry borders?

Moreover, disrupting and by nature cross-industry shifts like digital transformation and various technological breakthroughs (e.g., Blockchain, Internet of Things, Mobile Internet) take place. It implies that many new, entrepreneurial businesses but also existing giants from other industries knock on the financial services door with fresh and compelling business ideas to disrupt the financial services status quo.

Finally, more and more large corporations together with innovative start-ups, joined by knowledge institutions and policy makers engage in developing solutions for so-called “Grand Challenges” on learning, energy, health, food, poverty, etc., that are again by-nature demanding for cross-industry cooperation.

How to organize for cross-industry innovation?

So, we better organize appropriately for cross-industry innovation. Therefore, we developed a tool to help individuals and organizations starting, managing, and delivering on this demanding type of innovation. We focus on the most important activities that every cross-industry innovator should perform extremely well.

4 iterative activities that are core to cross-industry innovation:

1. Framing a challenge to attract and retain different partners across industries.
2. Connecting with the right cross-industry partners to tackle the challenge.
3. Cross-pollinating across partners by exchanging and creating knowledge and ideas for solving the challenge.
4. Creating together with cross-industry partners tangible output that answers the challenge.

Next to these inspiration and innovation building activities and evenly important, a cross-industry innovator should especially pay attention to safeguarding a healthy innovation process with good partners, sharp focus, and high energy. Dedicated tips and tools are provided for this as well.

Why a tool for cross-industry innovation?

Flanders DC recently engaged Vlerick Business School for an in-depth case study research on what makes cross-industry innovation relevant and successful. Those learnings are now also translated into a new, practical online tool, that can be consulted both in Dutch and English.

In combination with the detailed academic report on cross-industry innovation, we developed this free practitioner-oriented and actionable tool describing the cross-industry innovation process and its various (content and management) steps in much detail. By creating a low-threshold tool, Flanders DC wishes to encourage this form of innovation among entrepreneurs and managers.

For every step in the process we outline ways for getting started, hands-on tips and tools, and a vivid description of the experiences of cross-industry innovators when applying.
Given the many different aspects and directions to go during a cross-industry innovation project while engaging with often complex matters and a diverse set of people, the tool makes it less tough to identify and focus on the most pressing and valuable activities in the process while actually getting things started and done. As such, the tool should decrease the inherently higher risk of failure related to cross-industry innovation.

Most importantly…get started

So, if you are an organization active or potentially active in the financial services industry and interested in pursuing or dealing with strategic innovation, detailing future scenarios with like-minded or totally unusual partners, or exploring ways for having more societal impact, check out our new tool to get started on cross-industry innovation. It is worth the effort.

& Rankings

Equis Association of MBAs AACSB Financial Times