The 4 C’s of Innovation- What Are They?


By connecting, collaborating, creating and communicating can help you to innovate

Innovation or creating new ideas is an essential activity and is the life blood for any company, organisation or person if they are to be successful in creating new services and products or sharing knowledge to increase their profits, share-price or contribution to society.  Innovation can be seen as something that does, rather than something that is.  For something to improve there has to be change,  people have to change how they make decisions or choices and make them fast through real time collaboration.  When this happens innovation has taken place.  However, collaboration is just one aspect of this process and is part of an overall cycle that I call the 4C’s .

So how can we support and nurture Innovation?  Over the last 2o years I have worked in a manufacturing and project based environment both as an end user and as a consultant.  Looking back over that time and reflecting on what I have learnt and experienced, there are four key activities that come to light in making changes, creating opportunities, moving forward, being innovative.  They are what I call the 4C’s:

  • Connecting – you have to be able to connect to people, to other organisations and businesses to innovate both inside and outside your “business social network”
  • Collaborating – by connecting you need a forum, a place to collaborate, real time collaboration tools – whether it is at the water fountain, in a meeting, workshop or online
  • Creating – through collaborating you start to create ideas and more importantly co-create these ideas, so that there is alignment, understanding and a consensuswith the people around you
  • Communicating – having great ideas need to be shared and communicated realtime through your business social network, so that you can connect with your “audiences” to gain feedback, comments and insight in order to improve and implement your ideas.

By reconnecting, the cycle is repeated again and continues in a viral way creating new opportunities for businesses, organisations and people within your “business social network”.

For many of you who work in highly regulated industries such as the Life Sciences, Financial Services, Health and Safety, Power Generation or Construction for example, being innovative can be very challenging.  Having worked in a few of these sectors mainly within the Life Sciences and Construction industry, there is a considerable amount of regulation that has to be legally adhered to.   However, you do have what I call the “Work Prevention Departments” (WPD).  They would tell you why you could not do something, or you have do do X,Y and Z before you could do A but it would have to be done in the most bureaucratic or non added value way possible.  In my experience, responding to issues or new compliance requirements was resolved by putting more procedures, forms, paperwork andchecks in place.  It was like layering band aids on top of one another such that the whole process becomes so complex and difficult to complete – a sure recipe to stifling if not killing innovation.  The result is that you become a compliance organisation rather than a creative organisation.

For the Life Sciences, especially now where product pipelines are very dry at this time, innovation is key to new drug discovery and 2nd generation of existing products.   Yet this innovation is monitored under a  microscope by highly regulated government organisations all over the world, including their own compliance departments.  Compounded with proposed changes here in the UK such as Value Based Pricing (VBP).  This looks at the outcomes/performance of a drug and is priced accordingly.  If this is priced incorrectly, what is the incentive for pharmaceutical companies to innovate and develop new medicines?  Within the construction industry off-site construction has many advantages and has developed new innovative solutions that address cost, time and importantly sustainability issues.  Yet there is still a hesitation to embracing this type of innovative construction.

What is the issue?  One of the main reasons I believe is the risk associated in taking new, different or bold decisions.  “No one ever got sacked for choosing IBM” was a remark that I have heard several times.  Innovation can struggle to exist, let alone thrive if the leadership, trust and empowerment of people is not part of the core values of an organisation.  By collectively connecting, collaborating, creating and communicating new ideas helps to share problems and reduce this risk, rather than leaving it just up to the leadership team.  Who after all, are sometimes so far removed from the “coal face” is part of the reason why they don’t make those decisions.  Waiting and seeing what happens is too late.  Someone else will take that lead position by acting on that great idea.

By taking this 4 C approach will help your innovation processes so you become a creative organisation, whilst still operating compliantly. 



Leave a comment
  • Kennyj

    Hi, is there a particular model that you have developed or use that builds the innovation management into an organisations strategic framework and operationalises through product methodology?

    December 5, 2018, 2:27 pm Link

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