A journalist recently asked me how companies should get started with open innovation. I replied as below:
First ask this question: Why do we want open innovation? Many people believe open innovation is the Holy Grail and they just jump aboard without asking why open innovation is relevant to them.
An answer to the why question should show an understanding of how open innovation can be an important part of the general innovation strategy which in turn needs to be highly aligned with the overall corporate strategy. Many companies mess up here. They simply do not have an innovation strategy.
The benefit of having an innovation strategy is that it sets a direction for your efforts. This also allows you to better define open innovation in the terms of the company. Innovation – and even more so – open innovation can be defined in so many different ways. Companies need to find their own definitions like Procter & Gamble, General Mills and other companies have done it.
Once the why and the definition are in place, it becomes easier to work out a strategy and implement it. Next, you should not forget the people issue. A paradigm shift like this requires that people change their mindset and obtain new skills.
The key things here are the ability to view innovation in more holistic terms and to become better networkers. In the future, a strong innovation culture equals a strong networking culture. Thus leaders need to develop a networking strategy and train their people on this.
Let me know what you think.
Stefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation.