Earlier this spring, InnoCentive Founder Alph Bingham and President and CEO Dwayne Spradlin released a groundbreaking book on open innovation, The Open Innovation Marketplace. We caught up with both of them this week to talk about how things were going with the book.
Congratulations on the success of your book. It’s been in the market for a few months now - how is it being received?
Dwayne: Thanks – we’re pretty excited about it. I think it’s being received well. I’ve been very intrigued to meet people at conferences and business meetings who say they’ve read it. It seems to be introducing a whole new language around the use of Challenges in innovating, and helping organizations understand how open innovation can impact them, how it can fit into what they do.
Alph: I'd say it's been well received although it is just now thoroughly penetrating the distribution chain. Readers seem to appreciate the intersection of experience and theory on how these open innovation systems work.
Who are you finding are the biggest readers of the book?
Alph: Individuals charged with delivering innovation on behalf of their organizations, whether corporate, government or not-for-profit. We also hear of faculty and students who have made use of the book either in classes or independently. We also find that our biggest readers seem to be e-book users. Or maybe that's just a broad wave of the future I haven't climbed aboard yet. I still like pages I can bend and twist and scribble on.
Dwayne: It’s hard to gauge, but if you look at Amazon.com, it’s doing very well in product management. Most of the people I’ve talked to in person are in the innovation management function or are very focused on supporting organizations in their innovation needs
What do you think is resonating most with readers?
Dwayne: The takeaway is that Challenges represent a unique opportunity to organize untapped talent pools to work on really important problems – the power of the Challenge to fundamentally change what they can do. The economics of open innovation, or Challenge Driven Innovation, which is how we implement open innovation, are attractive, but the idea that we can crack difficult problems with new approaches is really hitting a chord. The notion that this methodology can fit within the broader framework of their organization to help them innovate is very attractive.
In addition, people love the stories. The story about how NASA used open innovation to predict solar flares and better protect astronauts, for example, brings these concepts to life on a really personal level.
Alph: I have to agree with Dwayne, that the stories are frequently remembered and commented upon. Although a few stories are sprinkled in the text, punctuating each chapter with a mini case study has helped to secure the principles discussed in the chapter in a way that no concluding paragraph could have accomplished. That said, I do hope that upon reflection some of the underlying arguments are being embraced as each organization needs to write its own story.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned through this process?
Alph: That it's doable and even fun... at times. Less time on drafts and more time on review and final edits. Especially with a coauthor, there is a major integration process that takes time and thought.
Dwayne: As a first time author, I will say that the idea of writing a book was very intimidating – how do you start? What voice do you use? The thrill at the end of the process was that it’s the power of the message that’s important. Everything else was just organizing the message into succinct form. Now that I understand this, the process is no longer intimidating.
If you had it to do over, what would you do differently?
Dwayne: The book contains two parts – the first is about Challenge Driven Innovation and the second is about the Challenge Driven Enterprise. If we had it to do all over again, we might have split it into two separate books. If we had done this, the first part would have provided more examples and instruction for innovation organizations in the early and implementation stages, and in the second we would have provided more stories about creating new world ecosystems. We would have addressed topics such as how to think about a virtual company and how a company can engage with rich partnerships in all of its functions. We would have given examples about how companies have reimagined themselves from the ground floor. A second book would have afforded time for more examples and deeper discussion, but in the end, we’re happy with the direction we chose.
Alph: I'd have also asked more questions up front about clarifying issues like tone, voice and tense. It would have reduced some of the editing process unrelated to content.
Will you be writing other books in the future?
Dwayne: Yes – We have 2 books on the agenda. The first is already underway and will be a collection of stories about Solvers and their solutions, and provide concrete examples of how being involved in this process can impact lives everywhere. We hope to have this book ready by the end of this year.
Alph: Having seen the success of e-books, we are looking at making the text even more e-friendly with tagging and other searchable approaches. This would allow great stories to sync with principles and organizational objectives.
Dwayne: The book after that, which will probably be published in late 2012, will be about what we’ve learned about successfully engaging large communities – how do you motivate and inspire them? This will be more of a deep discussion into what we’ve learned through organizing a global community and the kind of impact it can have.
Thanks Alph and Dwayne - we’ll be looking forward to hearing more about the Open Innovation Marketplace and about your upcoming books.
Alph: My pleasure.