In a recent episode of the Innovation Talks podcast, I shared some takeaways from the recent Innov8rs Conference in Amsterdam, which had open innovation as its central theme.
The concept of open innovation is straightforward: companies should move away from locking down internal information and, instead, make innovation a collaborative effort that includes voices and talents outside of the organization.
One of the more interesting discussions at Innov8rs centered around challenges companies face in realizing the promise of open innovation since professor and researcher Henry Chesbrough introduced the concept with his book, “Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting From Technology.” One of the biggest challenges is not having the right innovation culture.
Organizations that buy into open innovation embrace sharing company insights—and in many cases, intellectual property—with others to create a shared repository of knowledge that everyone can use to scale innovation. This collaboration network can include partners, consultants, academia, startups and others. The aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats” definitely applies, as everyone is interested in the information each party shares.
Open innovation represented a drastic shift in how companies approached innovation, which had always been a very closed, safely-guarded process. Even today, many companies are hesitant to share proprietary information with others for fear of having a great idea stolen. But for enterprises that want to engage in open innovation, innovation culture’s a common challenge.
Implementing an InnovationOps philosophy—which helps companies innovate at scale by bringing together their people and processes with innovation jobs to be done—can prepare companies to participate in open innovation with less friction because the innovation culture necessary for both to succeed are similar. Let’s explore those similarities.
Prioritization of overarching goals
The premise of open innovation is that a significant number of collaborators from different sectors pool insight from which everyone can benefit. While each participant should be able to extract what they need from the collaboration, keeping the overarching goal at the center is necessary for open innovation to succeed.
This is also an anchor of a successful InnovationOps approach. Every decision and action is made with a single question in mind: Does this align with the company’s mission and goals? As a result, regardless of what specific product or project they’re working on, everyone is essentially operating as a team, pushing each other in the same direction.
As a result, companies in tune with InnovationOps philosophies enter an open innovation arrangement ready to contribute in a way that benefits everyone—not just themselves.
A premium on collaborative innovation
Open innovation requires a mindset that appreciates the value of a wide range of perspectives and recognizes that the ROI in information sharing is far greater than building a fortress around great ideas. Companies that adhere to an InnovationOps philosophy value collaborative innovation. They understand the importance that everyone in their network can bring and listen to new ideas with an open mind instead of starting from a place of skepticism.
When an organization has laid the groundwork for InnovationOps, they recognize that innovative insight can come from just about anyone, and innovation jobs can be completed by those who haven’t traditionally done them. InnovationOps culture recognizes talent isn’t limited to title or role but can emerge from unexpected places.
It’s also important to consider that companies that adopt InnovationOps are great open innovation patterns because they have exceptional insight to offer. These organizations have worked diligently to remove common barriers to collaboration, like information silos and can quickly access and collate information from every corner of the organizations. They can share critical insights with partners that will be valuable to all participants.
Risk and failure are crucial to innovation culture
Let’s be clear—no one wants to fail. But organizations that adopt an InnovationOps approach understand that suitable risk can yield unprecedented results. And with that comes the occasional misstep; it’s part of doing business. So they encourage teams to take big swings when it makes sense and explore innovation areas outside their wheelhouse when the potential reward makes sense. And if the initiative falls flat, they view it as an opportunity to learn, evaluate and incorporate lessons learned to improve future iterations.
This mindset translates well for successful open innovation because distributing traditionally protected assets like IP requires weighing the risk of sharing against the benefit against the benefits that can occur. Companies who’ve adopted an InnovationOps policy understand that open innovation goes against traditional innovative beliefs but are willing to try something new—even if it feels uncomfortable—to gain unique insight that can lead them to the “next big thing.”
Open innovation holds so much promise for companies that are willing to adjust traditional innovation thinking. By taking on an InnovationOps approach, your innovation culture will be in line for successful outside collaboration.
To learn more about InnovationOps, head here.