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Innovation Networks: Looking for Ideas Outside the Company

Innovation Networks - Copyright of the Wharton School of the University of PennsylvaniaFuture competitive advantage will depend on “innovation networks” — individuals and organizations outside a company that can help it solve problems and find new ideas for creating growth, according to Larry Huston, managing partner of consulting firm 4INNO.

A senior fellow at Wharton’s Mack Center for Technological Innovation, Huston was vice president of knowledge and innovation for many years at Procter & Gamble, where he was the architect of its Connect + Develop program, an approach that helped extend the company’s innovation process to include 1.5 million people outside of P&G.

Huston spoke with Knowledge@Wharton about how innovation networks function, the ways they can be nurtured, their potential downsides and the impact they will have on how firms bring products to market.


Huston’s edited transcript of the conversation.