HBR: Which Kind of Collaboration Is Right for You?

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Public article by by Gary P. Pisano and Roberto Verganti
The new leaders in innovation will be those who figure out the best way to
leverage a network of outsiders.

In an era when great ideas can sprout from any corner of the world and IT has dramatically reduced the
cost of accessing them, it’s now conventional wisdom that virtually no company should innovate on its
own. The good news is that potential partners and ways to collaborate with them have both expanded
enormously in number. The bad news is that greater choice has made the perennial management
challenge of selecting the best options much more difficult. Should you open up and share your intellectual
property with the community? Should you nurture collaborative relationships with a few carefully
selected partners? Should you harness the “wisdom of crowds”? The fervor around open models of
collaboration such as crowdsourcing notwithstanding, there is no best approach to leveraging the power of
outsiders. Different modes of collaboration involve different strategic trade-offs. Companies that choose the
wrong mode risk falling behind in the relentless race to develop new technologies, designs, products, and

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