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Millennials, Entrepreneurs, and the Push and Pull of the Crowd—an Interview with Lorin Coles (Part One)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Friday, January 19, 2018

During a recent interview for the Q4 2017 Strategic Alliance Magazine, I spoke with Lorin Coles, CSAP, CEO and managing director of Alliancesphere, an alliance management and collaboration consulting business, on the topics of innovation, out-of-the-box thinking, and creativity in business partnering (see “Giving Birth to Innovation: The Brainchild of Out-of-the-Box Thinking Magazine”). Coles had many insightful and inspiring ideas on the topic, and due to limited space, some of these ideas didn’t make it into the magazine. Following is Part One of a two-part blog post based on additional materials from the interview.

The Cusp of Change
Coles: Today, it’s the most exciting time I’ve ever seen. Building the solutions and go-to-market has evolved because there are so many different routes to market to create that customer experience. So much has to do with digital technology—a lot of it is the leading edge. Also, crossing from the innovators to early adopters—we definitely have worked in many companies along that lifecycle. The market is at the point where they know how critical partnering, collaboration, and ecosystems are. Companies are all trying to figure out how to partner with tech companies in cross-industry partnering with three, four, five multiple companies at once to create a partnership.

The Influence of Gen X
The depth and breadth of partnering is so different, and I think we’re going to see a big change in the market: Clearly, the workplace is changing with millennials. They are moving up in the management structure, changing the makeup, and understand tech and partnering. People in their 40’s are now becoming leaders of companies. That group understands more intuitively. Another factor has to do with operating in a global landscape, where some cultures are more inherently collaborative. Also, the role of women in leadership—they are more open to collaboration. Finally, the Cloud—because of mobility and the Cloud and what is possible, tech is not sitting in the basement anymore. Uber, airbnb, artificial intelligence—all of these next-generation ideas are absolutely going to create business opportunities and a better world. 

Entrepreneurial Innovation
In 1999, I got involved with an organization in Atlanta—The American Israeli Chamber of Commerce. The Coca-Cola Company was looking to build joint, adjacent business models and innovation practices. We started working with the chief innovation officer across the brands, and we put together a trip to Israel. There were three core things Coca-Cola was trying to innovate around:

  • brands or products
  • capabilities: anything up and down that valley chain, such as technology, processes, ingredients, or science
  • packaging: an important part of fast-moving consumer goods companies

Before we went, we looked at four areas of innovation: Water, energy, ingredients, and the supply chain. I went to Coca-Cola before heading to Israel and gathered the problems and consumer and business challenges in those four areas.

Learn more about the story of Coca-Cola, Israel, and innovation in Part Two of this blog sharing more of ASAP Media’s conversation on out-of-the-box thinking with Lorin Coles, CSAP, CEO of Alliancesphere. 

Tags:  alliances  Alliancesphere  collaboration  critical partnering  ecosystems  Entrepreneurial Innovation  Gen X  lifecycle  Lorin Coles  Millennials  Strategic Alliance Magazine  supply chain 

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