What advice should we give to a company that wants to embrace open innovation, but is not yet ready because of their own culture and mindset? I got to think about this after an interaction with a company that wants to open up and even wants to incorporate openness into their values.
One problem is that the company is very successful by relying on their own internal resources, which are very impressive in terms of technologies, people and processes.
Another problem is that even though the executives really seem to believe in innovation – as in the kind that is very related to R&D – they seem to lack an understanding of and a true desire to embrace open innovation and perhaps also of innovation in a more holistic way (more business functions).
This problem even spills into the organization where the employees – somewhat rightfully – believe that they can get things done by themselves and that do they not need to change their mindset of being internally focused in order to succeed. As a result many employees are skeptics who are not sure of the value in open innovation.
Diversity and speed to market are some of the usual arguments for open innovation and they do of course see value in this, but they want something more specific. They want examples of companies that have embraced open innovation and gotten kick-ass success out of it. And they would very much like to see those examples in industries that are related to their own.
Such examples are still hard to find as most companies have limited (1-4 years) experience with open innovation. They are still building those cases. However, they continue to invest and they even increase their investment while getting more and more executive attention. This is an argument I often use for open innovation.
Back to the main question… What should they do? Let’s have a discussion on this. I can provide a few starters:
- Educate the executives and pay close attention to progress by following talk versus action.
- Educate the employees and seed small projects that can turn into quick wins.
- Identify a few close partners among customers and suppliers. Set a direction through a challenge, goal or scenario. It needs to balance on something that provides focus and direction and yet provides room for new ways of finding a solution. Work with the partners to further expand the innovation ecosystem for this challenge and make sure to be inclusive rather than exclusive when you look at the partners
What will you add?
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