Nigel Spencer, Research and Business Development Manager at the British Library writes:
Do you have access to all the skills, knowledge, experience and perspectives needed to develop innovative products and services within your own organisation?
No matter how large that organisation is, it is highly unlikely that you do. If you seek input from other businesses, often in different sectors, customers, and others you are much more likely to identify innovative ideas and solutions and to build the type of partnerships which will help you turn those ideas into sustainable products and services. This simple premise is the basis of open innovation.
Stefan Lindegaard 15inno says that people should view open innovation as ‘a philosophy or a mindset that they should embrace within their organization. This mindset should enable their organization to work with external input to the innovation process just as naturally as it does with internal input’.
So,you should not look at open innovation as a rigid business or innovation model. It is a shorthand that describes a diverse range of engagement and collabration activity with differing levels of formality and structure. Examples of these include crowdsourcing, online competitions, online jams and more closely facilitated relationships. There are many examples of global corporations that have applied open innovation methods. These include ‘Orange’, Procter & Gamble, Boots, Lego and Virgin Atlantic but the growth in social media and online open innovation platforms like Innocentive, mean that anyone can find a way of applying open innovation principles.
However, if you are looking to embrace the world of open innovation, or even dip your toe in the water, a number of perceived and genuine barriers and challenges may make you hesitate. Some of these are:
- How to make the contacts needed with external organisations and people and develop long-term mutually beneficial relationships. This a particular concern if the businesses are of differing sizes.
- How to overcome the internal organisational cultures which may be uncomfortable with the kind of openness, transparency and perceived loss of direct control which are involved in applying these ideas.
- How to protect ideas and creative outputs when these are being shared and an uncertainty as to how intellectual property fits into an open innovation environment.
On 29 November 2011 the BL is hosting a half-day conference which looks at these challenges head on. It is called ‘Open Innovation: The Challenges & Solutions’.
More information and booking on the event: http://goo.gl/Hl3G5. The event is part of an EU-funded Interreg IVB NEW project called The Open Innovation Project.