The Collaboration Curve: Continuous Learning for Continuous Improvement

“Collaboration curves hold the potential to mobilize larger and more diverse groups of participants to innovate and create new value” 
~ John Hagel III, Harvard Business Review

We have all heard of the experience curve and the effects it has on reducing costs and time while increasing accuracy in product and service development- it’s logical.  However, the inherent flaw in the experience curve model for business is that once you reach a certain level of expertise the costs, time and accuracy continue to improve only marginally until a new innovation is introduced.  And it is with the collaboration curve that the innovation increases.

“We’re seeing the emergence of a new kind of learning curve as we scale connectivity and learning , rather than scaling efficiency”

The more participants you have working on a design or project and the more interactions between those participants in a carefully designed collaborative environment, the more the rate of performance improvement goes up.  Essentially, because with continued collaboration comes continuous ideas that translate into continuous innovation.  It eradicates the lull in performance improvement that occurs in the experince curve model.

Take Apple for example.  They are experienceing a seemingly never ending cycle of expansion through the applications for their devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod etc.)  The reason of course is that they crowdsource.  Apple doesn’t think of the hundreds of application ideas and advertise them, they merely offer the platform and software neccessary for their users to develop apps based on their own ideas – and because of it the App Store is massive and Apple continues to gain revenue, reputation and offer continuously evolving product.

So I urge you to consider how you are applying the Collaboration Curve learning cycle in your organization?