Open Innovation: An Event or System?

Posted by Michael Franklin on Sep 23, 2016 10:24:18 AM

Open innovation has its history in point solutions – one specific issue was placed to a crowd and one specific solution was sought. This framework certainly still has validity today, but as methodologies have improved and tech platforms developed, open innovation for some has moved beyond this singular event. Instead it can represent a system; a repeatable framework that has intrinsic importance to the innovation methodology of an organisation. So how does open innovation move from unique and occasional events to perennial and habitual systems?

Before diving into exploring this question, there are of course those organisations whereby the one-off, point solution use of crowdsourcing is the most applicable. Whether due to a narrower innovation pipeline, smaller budgets or more precise strategic goals, a three-month Challenge programme accessing the InnoCentive global crowd can deliver the desired technical breakthrough that internal increments maybe couldn’t.

However where true lasting value is frequently found is not just in the technical solution from the Challenge, but also the organisational impacts and learnings that occur during the open innovation process. This cultural training begins with the InnoCentive Challenge Driven InnovationTM (CDI) workshop: our PhD-educated Challenge Experts spend a day with clients not only exploring their issues, but also helping to build the principals that are required to take full advantage of crowdsourcing and develop the internal processes that accompany its implementation. This could be breaking down the ‘Not Invented Here’ paradigm, looking at how to prioritise problems, how to reposition them so they are accessible to the global crowd. It could be understanding our CDI methodology that not only stresses the technical aspects that make a great Challenge, but also the organisational changes that help ensure success – strategic support, proper funding, implementation plan, internal expertise and others. The actual implementation of a Challenge then puts these foundations into practice and again, our CDI methodology assists throughout the Challenge process to ensure not only the delivery of solutions, but the development of organisational innovation capabilities.

Taking these capabilities further, the diversification of open innovation is the next step in moving from an event-based approach, to an embedded system. Of course problems can be posed to the global crowd through the InnoCentive Challenge Center, but there also is the option of crowdsourcing internally. Utilising your company’s greatest asset and asking your own employees to comment, suggest, brainstorm, vote and collaborate on innovations. The InnoCentive@Work platform gives this capability; the SaaS combines with our CDI expertise to ensure the correct questions are asked to illicit the best possible answers. The extensive analytics and reporting tools then provide a detailed insight to guide innovation strategies and help develop a portfolio of solutions.  

As previously written about, the ‘open’ mind-set is not just limited to the innovation space and it can relate to a plethora of parts. Building an organisational culture could also occur through taking advantage of and promoting; open data, open source, open science and others. The recognition of external expertise and the active interaction with those beyond the confines of the company all plays a part in moving towards a system of open innovation, rather than just using it as a one off.

All of these aspects need definitive action if they are to not only occur, but also be successful in their implementation. A lasting desire to see success – not stumble after one trial. A lasting desire to see the development of accompanying systems that allow outcomes from open innovation activities to be fully utilised. This may require large initial effort and capital to establish these processes, but when the multiple methodologies are combined with the complimentary culture, the end systems can become engrained, enhanced and elevate outcomes.  

With fifteen years’ experience of assisting companies making this transition, InnoCentive can provide support the entire way. If you want to take the first step on this process, or expand your current open innovation activities, get in touch here.

Topics: Innovation Insights

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