I was trained as a sensory psychologist and after a couple of academic positions lucked onto a career in R&D. I have spent most of the last 15 years working in sensory research and human factors in the medical device industry (SOLA International and Carl Zeiss Vision). I heard about InnoCentive when I was managing a product development area and we were looking to improve the product innovation process. In particular, I was impressed with the ideas Charles Leadbeater was promoting about new models for collaborative innovation in the future.
With this in mind, I believe the model set out by InnoCentive, combined with the ever increasing connectedness of the planet, is a major step in the right direction. It is clear to me that collaborative innovation and other forms of networking with customers are going to be the basis of some great innovations as we move forward.
I’m also excited to see many newer companies starting life with collaborative innovation built into the fabric of their organization. I currently work for Image-Line Software, an innovative Belgian company that makes music/audio production, DJ & web development software. Their business and product development model is how I think the smart, flexible, companies will organize themselves in an increasingly capricious marketplace. That is, they have a globally distributed workforce, many of whom work via the net from home, and tightly integrated customer relationships through social media networking and their own forums. Watching the to-and-fro of ideas between customers and the software developers on their forums and social media sites is to experience collaborative innovation in action every day.
I think the big challenge is for traditional and established companies to take on these values open innovation, as the processes usually fall under layers of confidentiality and trade secret provisions. I have noticed that it is particularly difficult for the IP department, who squirm at the thought of opening up the R&D process and the complexities of IP ownership. That’s where I see InnoCentive providing a valuable mediation role between the great mass of customers/thinkers and the internal R&D processes. But I digress, I am just passionate about the opportunities in this area and would love to see more of this type of collaboration.
Interestingly, my work background had little to do with the challenge I solved. It was more about keeping an eye on the challenges and then one day a problem appears that makes your heart race, you have an answer! There are millions of answers out there just waiting for a problem, all companies need to do is pose the challenge.
PS: If you want to know what I am doing in the bio pic, recording the sound of Bees, you can hear and download the recording from another wonderful collaborative site (Freesound) here…