Recombinant Innovation: It’s all about the networks

Recombinant innovation links and leverages assets to define new solutions. A classic example: the iPhone, a combination of existing technologies. Apple’s genius came in designing and guiding complex supplier networks to produce components and assemble the iPhone. 

Why do firms find recombinant innovation so challenging? 

3 reasons stand out. 

First, existing organizational routines and culture create barriers and discourage fast cycle experiments. In extreme cases, innovating teams can trigger an immune response from existing corporate power centers. 

Second, companies are insufficiently supple. Recombinant innovation requires support for innovating teams: more flexible reporting routines and different rewards. 

Third, most companies do not have a disciplined, lean, and replicable approach to collaboration. Recombinant innovation requires the capability to form and manage multiple complex networks. 

Our work in #strategicdoing fits here. It provides a simple, rigorous protocol for forming collaborations quickly and guiding them flexibly toward measurable outcomes. You can think of it as an operating system for recombinant innovation. 

If your company does not have established protocols to guide collaborations and manage multiple networks, start here.