There are two types of open innovation to consider. Inbound innovation is about sourcing and acquiring expertise from outside the organization, and researching the external environment for new information to identify, select, utilize and internalize ideas. The second type of outbound innovation is the intended commercialization of internally developed ideas to the open market. This might be through selective revealing of a product to journalists and reviewers or selectively selling the technology or service to customers with a view to getting feedback.
The process of open innovation involves actively seeking out inputs from outside sources such as customers, suppliers, universities and start-ups in order to create new products or services. As the Internet has grown and leveled the playing field, this approach has become increasingly popular among organizations looking to leverage the resources of their networks for competitive advantage.
Adapting To A Crisis
As the coronavirus pandemic intensified, it increased pressure on companies and constricted supply chains. Open innovation became an important avenue for companies looking for new partnerships to foster creative solutions for their specific issues. Whether or not you are in a crisis, open innovation remains a legitimate option. Certainly, in a time of crisis open innovation stepped up with a sense of urgency to transform ways of thinking and ways of doing business.
Companies are turning to this open innovation process but like any system there are pitfalls and potential. As the authors note in “Why Now is the Time for Open Innovation,” from the Harvard Business Review, companies that partner must put aside their differences and work together for the benefit of all. The authors write, “Making it work, however, requires that companies: momentarily put aside traditional concerns over IP to focus on other approaches to creating value; leverage their partners’ motivations effectively to maintain a productive working relationship; embrace new partners; and commit to the projects they pursue through open innovation to reap their benefits.”
Build A Culture Of Innovation
All Things Innovation recently looked at tactics and strategies in how to “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 culture of innovation on your team is a key part of a winning formula. In this sense, it’s not just what you create but how you create it.
Building a culture and community of innovation is no easy task, yet it’s important to give your team a sense of innovation and a mission that permeates the entire process, as well as the organization as a whole. Through this atmosphere of innovation, true collaboration can take place, with risk taking encouraged, without fear of failure. Empowering your employees is also key to the process. One must embrace a culture of upskilling and adaptation, and take ownership of the innovation process. Take on challenges and encourage creativity. Reward both success and failure. Create a healthy environment that is filled with curiosity. Enhance an atmosphere where team members are willing to challenge, dissent and question one another and the status quo.
Engage With the Community
So how can one create and encourage a community of open innovation? As noted by ChatGPT, there needs to be a lot of engagement and communication for the parties involved. Whatever type of platform is used, gaining feedback and input on the project is invaluable.
- Create a platform for open collaboration: Establish an online community where people can share ideas, discuss solutions and build on each other’s work. This could be a forum, blog or even a social media group.
- Foster transparency: Make sure that everyone knows what is happening in the community by providing regular updates and progress reports. Encourage members to openly contribute their ideas and opinions while also recognizing those who take initiative and make valuable contributions.
- Reward contributors: Show appreciation for active participation by offering rewards such as recognition, prizes or discounts for products developed through the process of open innovation initiatives.
- Engage with stakeholders: Reach out to potential customers, partners and industry experts to get feedback on your projects so you can continuously improve them over time based on user input and data analysis insights from different perspectives outside of the team itself.
- Promote creativity: Give members space to think freely without any predetermined boundaries or restrictions – this will help foster creative thinking that leads to innovative solutions rather than relying solely on traditional methods of problem-solving.
Often overlooked or seen as a drawback, collaboration, in times of crisis or otherwise, is the hero of the open innovation story. Open innovation is often a more decentralized and participatory way of doing business, a method that many traditional companies often find uncomfortable because they might not have total control of the process or can’t anticipate unforeseen circumstances that may arise.
Yet there is great potential for value creation with open innovation. Opportunities abound for those that realize that a two-sided open partnership can motivate both teams to create new avenues of growth and spark creative ideas. As the Harvard Business Review authors assert, “It allows for many more ways to create value, be it through new partners with complementary skills or by unlocking hidden potential in long-lasting relationships. In a crisis, open innovation can help organizations find new ways to solve pressing problems and at the same time build a positive reputation. Most importantly it can serve as a foundation for future collaboration.”
Video courtesy of World Economic Forum