Encouraging Business for a Culture of Open Innovation

Most companies want to, and intend to innovate, but fail to keep up with their intentions. Although, the range of activities in today’s world are plenty, what people miss is ‘noticing it’. As Pieter Theil famously remarked, ‘Business innovation predominantly occurs behind the scenes and not in newspapers or once it’s on television. “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters”. Open innovation has several challenges and roadblocks so encouraging business for open innovation is about handling multiple ‘demons’ at the same time in a long drawn battle. Quite unlike a one-day-little-skirmish. We didn’t want to fire a rhetoric by challenging the existing cultural roadblocks.

Building the team – There is one aspect where you hire the best and the brightest set of people. You need those people who are ethical, who are ambitious and bold. And then, there is this other entire aspect of hiring the smartest and brightest set of fresh and young candidates. Administrative bureaucracy and the ideas of the ‘old-guard’ are death traps in this world of innovation, lest of all – Open Innovation! This is important in order to improve internal collaboration and bring in a wave of new technologies and viewpoints to solve a problem. This approach is using people to drive around processes, knowledge, governance and technology towards open innovation. To realise just how critical this aspect of team is,

Technology Scouting – To get a glimpse into the power and the impact of Open Innovation, reach out to new partners and technologies in the area’s and topics your company has already identified. Build your capabilities in-house, bring in the experts who can help you not just with ideation but with actually identifying your problem area and bringing in front you the list of people, organisations and technologies who can solve your problem! The advantage with bringing in experts you can already preempt IP strategy and frameworks for development. Technology Scouting leverages the concept of business ecosystems via technology systems to solve needs. A more open field but cautiously looking to make intellectual property useful and transform relationships.

Define Innovation – Innovation is a rather abstract term. It means several things to several people and this might be a big cause for innovation to fail. Innovation has several dimensions, forms and aspects to it. Perhaps a company is only looking for incremental innovation on their product. Another is perhaps thinking of radical process innovation. Still a third might be keen on exploration while a fourth is all about service and management innovation! This is a very important point we believe needs to be addressed since, the ROI needs to be measured. How are you going to define ROI? Will it be engagement? Will it be number of ideas generated? Will it be based on research output? Where has a company made headlines in the media on innovation?

The above indicators are only a glimpse into the war zone being entered by a company. At every aspect and level there will be people who will resist a move change. The devil, people think, lies in change and not in status quo. Younger employees will be given lesser responsibilities or wings clipped. Inferior hires to ensure a person’s personal growth than the company. Risk aversion, Not Invented Here syndrome, “Only experts understand” mindset and IP trolls will put back Technology Scouting. Leadership and lack of will to truly innovate will result in an ambiguous innovation strategy, framework and further abuse of the term!