Here are three fundamental questions that must be answered before embarking on a journey toward open innovation:
1. What will open innovation do to your business model?
- In an open innovation world, you may end up working with anyone — even competitors. How will this impact your business model and alter your competitive landscape? This is perhaps less a concern for small businesses; however, if you have aspirations of growing your small business into a larger one, you should keep this question in mind.
2. How will your organization change to accommodate open innovation?
- What kind of collaborations do you want to engage in? What common vision and mission will you share with partners? Systems, processes, values, and culture across the company will need to be transformed. People who have spent their careers being internally focused now must focus externally as well. Change is resisted in many organizations, no matter their size. But if your small business is a family owned organization that has been around for generations, you may find resistance to change to be particularly strong.
3. Do you and your organization really understand open innovation and what it takes?
- Silos can exist even in small businesses, meaning that even a small company may have problems with innovating internally, let alone doing so with outside partners. Leaders need to understand the impact of this movement — its opportunities and threats — and learn to adopt a style that optimizes trust, motivation, and performance. And they need to help their entire team understand the whys and wherefores of open innovation. This may be simpler in a small organization since it probably won’t entail educating hundreds of individuals.
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