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It's not (Only)what you know....

Innovation is a multi-player game. The image of the lone hero innovator is a myth. Even celebrated soloists like Thomas Edison or James Watt had their army of assistants working behind the scenes. Alexander Bell wouldn’t have been able to bring the telephone to the world without being able to demonstrate the device by having Mr Watson on the other end of the line when he famously told him to come in from the next room….

Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you about the networks they needed to bring their ideas to life; creating a valuable solution isn’t a simple lightbulb moment but a complicated journey drawing in resources, ideas, time and energy, (not to mention money), most of it coming from other people. Deconstruct any successful start-up and you soon have a cast of characters on stage, taking their bows as the audience recognise the shared creativity which has made the performance possible.

And once we get beyond the initial pilot, the hard work really begins. The journey to scale is a tough one, takes time and has to negotiate some uncertain conditions on the way. The evidence is very clear, it’s a team effort and it needs plenty of external help.

‘Complementary assets’ is the technical term for the answer to the question of ‘who else and what else do you need to scale your innovation?’. The key point about them is that they lie beyond what you can bring to the party. By their nature they represent resources you need to find and work with; the trick is in assembling suitable partnerships to deliver them.

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