Skip to content

Inviting Interdisciplinary Innovation Collaboration

Fresh Perspectives

Looking outside one’s specific field can create inspiration, help problem solving and fuel creativity, and thereby support the innovation process. In the blog, “Why Interdisciplinary Collaboration Is Important,” Collaboratory outlines some of the ways that an interdisciplinary approach to scientific study, including innovation and other fields, may give the team an opportunity for growth and development.

  1. Interdisciplinary Collaboration Opens Your Mind to New Possibilities: When you bring together experts from across disciplines and fields, you can get something unique: a whole new way of thinking about an issue that no one person has ever considered before.
  2. A Cross-Functional Team Can Give You a More Holistic View of Your Research: One of the biggest challenges in any research project is being able to see the big picture. Many have found that one of the most effective ways to improve their ability to see that is to work with a cross-functional team.
  3. Working With People from Different Backgrounds Exposes You to New Skills and Perspectives: It can be helpful to learn new skills and perspectives from people with different backgrounds than you. Working with individuals who have different experiences and knowledge bases than yours can also help you see things in a new light.
  4. Your Research Team Will Work Better with Interdisciplinary Teams: An interdisciplinary team is made up of people from different fields who work together on one project. This allows them to collaborate early in the process, when there are still many questions about what the best approach might be for collecting data and analyzing results.
  5. Interdisciplinary Collaboration Encourages Creativity and Innovation: By working across disciplines and collaborating with experts in different fields of study, you will be exposed to new ideas and different ways of thinking that can help you take a fresh look at your work.
  6. Interdisciplinary Collaboration Can Take You Out of Your Comfort Zone: You learn what it’s like to work with people who have different backgrounds, different perspectives and different ways of doing things. Working across disciplines expands your network, making you a more well-rounded professional; it helps you develop new skills; and it makes you better as a researcher.

The Power of Partnerships

An interdisciplinary approach to innovation has similarities to exploring partnerships and open innovation initiatives outside the company’s internal systems. External partnerships and collaboration can fuel the innovation process and take research into new directions. In “External Partnerships Fuel Innovation,” All Things Innovation’s Seth Adler discussed this topic with Eric Agdeppa, R&D Director, Innovation, BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company). Agdeppa presented a session at FEI in partnership with Cummins that was centered on how do you look outside of your four walls of your industry to de-risk innovation.

In “Balancing the Innovation Partnership,” All Things Innovation looked at the delicate balancing act that startup and corporate partnerships entail. Certainly, there are challenges and opportunities from both perspectives. But it can ultimately maximize innovation success for both partners.

Pushing the Boundaries

Interdisciplinary collaboration, which involves individuals from different disciplines working together, can significantly support the innovation process in several ways, as detailed by ChatGPT:

  1. Diverse Perspectives: Interdisciplinary teams bring together individuals with different backgrounds, expertise, and perspectives. This diversity fosters a rich pool of ideas and approaches, leading to more innovative solutions.
  2. Holistic Problem Solving: Complex problems often require a holistic understanding. Interdisciplinary collaboration enables teams to consider problems from multiple angles, addressing various aspects of a challenge and promoting comprehensive solutions.
  3. Cross-Pollination of Ideas: Collaboration across disciplines facilitates the cross-pollination of ideas. Concepts, methods, and insights from one field can inspire creative solutions in another, leading to novel approaches that may not emerge within a single discipline.
  4. Innovative Synthesis: Interdisciplinary collaboration encourages the synthesis of knowledge from different domains. This blending of ideas can result in innovative solutions that draw on the strengths of each discipline, creating a more robust and effective outcome.
  5. Increased Creativity: Exposure to different ways of thinking and problem-solving enhances creativity. Interdisciplinary collaboration stimulates a creative environment where team members can challenge assumptions, explore unconventional ideas, and push the boundaries of innovation.
  6. Effective Communication: Collaborating across disciplines requires effective communication. Teams must translate complex concepts into understandable terms for individuals outside their field. This skill promotes clearer communication, which is essential for successful innovation.
  7. Accelerated Learning: Interdisciplinary collaboration provides opportunities for continuous learning. Team members can share their expertise, learn from each other, and acquire new skills, leading to a more adaptable and knowledgeable team.
  8. Enhanced Problem Identification: Different disciplines may identify and understand problems in unique ways. Interdisciplinary collaboration helps in uncovering hidden challenges and gaining a more nuanced understanding of the issues at hand, contributing to effective problem-solving.
  9. Reduced Tunnel Vision: Working solely within one discipline can lead to tunnel vision, limiting the exploration of alternative solutions. Interdisciplinary collaboration widens the perspective, reducing the risk of overlooking valuable ideas and insights.
  10. Innovation Ecosystem Development: Interdisciplinary collaboration contributes to the development of innovation ecosystems. By fostering relationships between individuals and organizations from various disciplines, a collaborative network emerges, supporting continuous innovation and knowledge exchange.

Staying (Inter) Disciplined

Embracing interdisciplinary collaboration can be a key driver for successful and sustainable innovation. Interdisciplinary collaboration supports the innovation process by bringing together diverse perspectives, pushing the boundaries of research and development and perhaps creating a fresh vision and different approaches that can support the project. One way to constantly innovate is to be open to looking outside your own field of study. You never know when inspiration will strike.

Video courtesy of Fast Company


  • Matt Kramer

    Matthew Kramer is the Digital Editor for All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has over 20 years of experience working in publishing and media companies, on a variety of business-to-business publications, websites and trade shows.

    View all posts

Related Content

A bunch of bees on honeycomb.
interdisciplinary collaboration

Cultivating a Collective Intelligence Mindset

In today’s modern age of innovation, cooperation and collaboration are key approaches to take in solving complex problems. Cross-collaboration and i…

Red warning light, signaling hazard.
innovation culture

Moving Past Innovation Roadblocks

With the pace of change accelerating, fostering innovation in corporate enterprises can be a challenging task—a task that is very much dependent on…

Futuristic city at night with data points of light rising from the bottom.
innovation strategy

Mapping Out the Data-Innovation Journey

This year, in our latest Innovation Perspectives Report, the editors of All Things Innovation brought together a cross-section of innovation, insights…

Bulletin board with post it notes. One in center says Make Things Happen.
managing innovation

Managing Productive Innovation

Conservatively, I estimate that I’ve attended 20,000-plus meetings throughout my career. I’ll admit, many of them should have been replaced with email…

A blueprint with a pencil and ruler.
innovation culture

Innovation Principles, 7/7

Once adequate competency, support, and size of a new team are secured, clear direction based on a purposeful vision, alignment with a winning game pla…

coin operated binoculars and open blue sky
analytics for innovation

The Road to FEI24: Analytics for Innovation

Anu Sundaram, Vice President, Business Analytics, Rue Gilt Groupe, is planning an interactive analytics session for FEI 2024, taking place this June….

A smiling little robot

The Road to FEI24: Brunch with the Bots

Samantha Johnson, Founder & CEO at Tatum Robotics, will take part in FEI 2024 in several ways, including participating in the keynote sessions, “Bru…

laboratory beaker with dropper
artificial intelligence

Transform New Product Development with AI

While AI is certainly touted as being able to create rapid data-driven insights, there are advantages in the new product development process that can…

mountain climbers trekking
artificial intelligence

Discovering the Innovation-Led Growth Journey

Advances in artificial intelligence are powering AI-driven innovation. As machines become smarter and tech developments are rapidly progressing, there…

football chalk game plan
innovation principles

Innovation Principles, 6/7

Development strategy (i.e., Game Plan) is a set of choices within applicable constraints and trade-offs that defines our development approach and posi…

innovative entrepreneurship

The Benefits of Innovative Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship and innovation are closely linked concepts but also distinct and separate stages in business. Defining both is helpful from both an o…


Navigating the Nascent Stage of Innovation

There might be more inherent uncertainty in a nascent industry or early startup venture, with many questions and challenges unanswered, bringing compl…

artificial intelligence

Gaining an Innovation Edge with Automation

With the focus on how artificial intelligence, as well as digital transformation efforts, can help streamline operations, it’s worth another look at…


Creating the Right Innovation Partnership

Corporations often face many challenges when it comes to developing innovation in a fast, evolving market. They can face barriers such as inertia, the…

innovation culture

Bringing Sales and Innovation Together

Just how can innovation and sales work together to find success? Too often, companies find themselves stuck in their respective departments and the si…

innovation culture

Winning the Innovation Strategy Game

We know that having a creative mindset can fuel innovation, and that fostering a culture of innovation is also important to get the job done. Yet ther…

innovation leadership

Taking Next Steps with Innovation Talent

As we head into the new year, taking the next steps with innovation talent remains an important question to explore. With the competitive landscape in…

corporate innovation

PIE: Get Your Slice of Success

How can someone really stand out and succeed as a corporate innovator, get the most exciting projects, or secure a promotion? This is a question I enc…

consultant mindset

Keeping Your Innovation Career Resilient

With the rise of technology, such as AI, impacting workers and workplaces, it’s safe to say the future of work is evolving—in innovation and in ma…

open innovation

Embracing Open Innovation

Open innovation is a growing tactic for today’s globalized enterprises. Rather than focusing just on closed loop systems and internal sources, such…


Balancing the Innovation Partnership

Startup and corporate partnerships are a delicate balancing act but one that can maximize innovation success for both partners. Certainly, there are c…

digital transformation

Unlocking Business Growth Through Innovation

The business world is changing quickly for innovators and there is a growing and ever-present imperative to keep up. Business model transformations an…

digital transformation

Living in A Digital Transformation World

Digital transformation (DX) has been a hot topic in the innovation space for some time, but the term can be easily misunderstood as well. As we accele…

innovation culture

Sustaining the Self-Disruption Journey

The adage “disrupt or be disrupted” may not necessarily always mean the same thing to the same companies. Even the original architects of disrupti…

disruptive innovation

Playing the Game of Disruption

At FEI, Angelina Carvajal, Strategy & Innovation Partner, Sr. Dir. (Optum Advisory), UnitedHealth Group, had a chance to share her thoughts on disrupt…

innovation mindset

Creating the Happiness Mindset for Innovation

With 2023 often being labeled the year of uncertainty, it comes as no surprise that consumers, and the innovation community, has had its fair share of…

breakthrough innovation

Breaking Through Challenges to Problem Solve

While it’s important to learn from best practices from large and innovative enterprises, it’s also valuable to hear from the startup community. At…

Innovation Resources
open innovation

External Partnerships Fuel Innovation

As part of the continuing series of conversations at FEI with All Things Innovation’s Seth Adler, next on tap is Eric Agdeppa, R&D Director, Innovat…

innovation process

Opening the Doors of Innovation Perception

Seth Adler of All Things Innovation caught up with Cory Sorice, SVP and Chief Innovation Officer, Masonite International, during this year’s FEI con…

innovation theater

Beyond Innovation Theater

At FEI, All Things Innovation conducted a special roundtable, bringing cross industry, cross disciplinarians together to talk about transformation and…

chief financial officer

The Finance Factor in Innovation

The finance function in an organization often gets tabbed as a bottom line-oriented, conservative department that more often than not stifles innovati…

innovation team

Setting the Strategic Direction

A chief strategy officer (CSO) is increasingly becoming a more relevant element to a research and development team in an organization. An innovation t…

innovation talent

Managing the Marketing of Innovation

Even some of the best new innovations might fail if there’s no effective marketing behind the product or service. With an emphasis on cross-collabor…

objectives and key results

Playing Moneyball for the Win

In the popular baseball movie “Moneyball,” the character Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill) highlights the “epic failure” of MLB leadership in managin…

innovation culture

Putting Together Your Innovation Team

As the community’s recent Innovation Spend & Trends Report indicated, innovation teams are not working in a bubble, or at least not as much as they…


Sizing Up Your Innovation’s Impact

If your company has successfully developed an innovative product or service, you might be at the stage of the process known as scalability. Perhaps yo…


Leading with Product Innovation

At its core, in the consumer packaged goods world, an innovative product can make an impact in the marketplace and stand out with a focus on newness….

human resources

Managing Talent to Drive Innovation

With the economy producing mixed signals, and companies often in a state of flux, managing innovation talent has never been a more challenging and imp…


Balancing Innovation with Ambidexterity

Innovators have long been tasked with being a flexible part of an ambidextrous team, as part of an organizational cog that can easily pivot and manage…

disruptive technology

Defining Disruptive Innovation

Disruptive innovation is often a phrase used to make a splash in the business world. Some may debate that the label has been applied carelessly at tim…

business innovation

Growing a Culture for Business Innovation

Whether it entails a large jump or a small step, the innovation pipeline for a business keeps it moving forward through a competitive landscape. Busin…

innovation culture

Tapping Into the Innovation Talent Pipeline

In the last few years, the pandemic and a range of other economic factors have influenced the talent recruitment, development and retention practices…

innovation culture

Ignite a Culture of Innovation

From the successes to the failures, from the breakthroughs to the breaking points, the innovation community knows all too well that fostering a cultur…

business innovation

Innovation During A Downturn

Whether you believe the USA is headed toward or already in a recession, there are signs of a slowing or reversal of economic activity. Of the 15 metri…


Innovating Through the Metaverse

The Metaverse is a shifting, undefined topic, which is currently the center of much speculation and hype. However, at its center, the concept of the M…

corporate venturing

Perspectives On Corporate Venturing

The Rolling Stones might have famously sung, “Start Me Up,” back in the 1980s, and Microsoft later tapped the tune for its Windows 95 marketing ca…

human resources

Fostering Innovation

When you start to talk that way and lead that way, people do feel more psychologically safe to support change and support innovation that’s happenin…

innovation culture

Innovation Reality

When working remotely, the main challenge is bringing people into an office when they live across the country or around the world. The AES Corporation…

corporate venturing

Innovation Ventures

The movement for startups and corporate venturing is becoming more and more of a trend in organizations according to Chris Varley, Principal of Goodye…

innovation leadership

Control The Sails

Although the world was affected heavily with change in the last few years, not much in the business world has changed as far as topics and issues go….

innovation leadership

Innovation Culture

Innovation starts with the employees of an organization. As we know, the people that work for a business are some of its greatest assets. In today’s…


Interaction Innovation

We are at a time in history of incredible change and technological innovations, such as the rise of machine intelligence, and companies who keep doing…

data and analytics

Measurable Innovation

Each company has their own KPIs that are important to their specific business in place to progress and be successful. Are people at the forefront of i…


Certain Uncertainty

Life is uncertain in every way. It’s always interesting to meet new people and try new things. On the other hand, attackers may sometimes appear out o…

innovation culture

Rolling Innovation

If you’ve done it once, you can do it again. Make sure to keep doing it, it’s rolling innovation. Amber Case sits down with us to discuss how impo…

innovation culture

Innovation Intelligence

It seems that innovation is one of the biggest buzzwords in business now. To sustain growth and be competitive in the marketplace, companies in every…

innovation culture

Innovation As Constant Change

The key strategy to a successful business is to know when they are being innovative or are just transforming their status quo according to market tren…