Six must-haves in the quest for open innovation success

We’ve seen how open innovation is stepping in to tear down more traditional corporate walls and to give you access to new sources of possibilities: the ideas, insights, opinions and visions of clients, partners, consumers and scientific and academic communities. We’ve also seen how your employees are still your most valuable innovation source, as a diverse community, often from different countries, cultures, backgrounds and businesses.

Open innovation offers a new way to create value, to extend reach and capacity for new ideas, technologies and different perspectives on challenges, broadening your view. Overall, to deliver better and quicker results and strengthen brand awareness for your organisation, remember to:

1. Engage external communities to access different points of view, using an efficient software platform
2. Link and share content with external social networks for maximum reach
3. Maximise adoption and usage with a sophisticated but simple user interface
4. Activate your brand and communicate your values with a fully brandable programme
5. Manage your external community to ensure valuable participation
6. Integrate externally generated content with your internal community for evaluation and implementation.

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s co-founder/ pdc@exago.com

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FROM THE START:
Open innovation and the fight for your audience

Never forget your most valuable innovation asset

When targeting participants for your open innovation programme, consider suppliers, customers and universities. But don’t forget your most valuable asset: your employees are themselves a community of stakeholders, often from different countries, cultures, backgrounds and businesses. They are your most important open innovation source.

In this sense, after laying out goals, challenges and workflow designs to engage your external contributors using a software platform, your innovation initiative provider should also help you to integrate the generated content with your internal community. This means you invite your people to screen and evaluate the best contributions given by those external participants, adopting the software platform for their own purposes.

They will help you deal with and efficiently assess expected high volumes of information – and to decide which contributions a final jury should analyse to find the competition’s winner. By doing this, you gather and leverage your organisation’s collective intelligence, aligning it with initiative’s goals.

True, your teams may have their own orthodoxies. But remember they can identify, better than anyone else can, both ‘false positives’ (ideas that seem auspicious but wouldn´t work in your organisation) and ‘false negatives’ (ideas seemingly outside your scope but carrying unexpected value).

This approach also makes sure that you don’t get stuck in bureaucratic monsters, when having to analyse all inputs received. It lets you focus on the process’s later stages, promoting transparency, winning sponsorship and accelerating decision-making and implementation within your organisation.

All in all, while embarking upon your open innovation quest, be sure to capture equally high external and internal levels of engagement. The entire initiative and evaluation process, in particular, must be efficient, and the balance between your external and internal collective intelligence is key to get it successfully done.

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s co-founder/ pdc@exago.com

READ MORE:
Six must-haves in the quest for open innovation success

FROM THE START:
Open innovation and the fight for your audience

Where in the world is the audience for your open innovation programme?

As we’ve seen, you’ll have to create audience-centric content to capture your open innovation audience. But, you should consider to locate suitable community places, as well as aligning your communication messages with your targets, places, channels and value pools. Your communication plan needs to include key timing, targets, formats and messages – to meet programme objectives.

To guarantee your programme’s success, you have to both identify where you can find your stakeholders online, in social networks and other forums, and communicate assertively in these places.

This type of solution and systematic approach ensures the maximum relevant participation. By activating integration with the main social networks – such as Facebook and Twitter – directly from the platform, participants can use their own logins to register their presence and share all content extensively across these media.

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s co-founder/ pdc@exago.com

REA MORE:
Never forget your most valuable innovation asset

FROM THE START:
Open innovation and the fight for your audience

How to conquer your audience

Giving you easy access to new sources of innovation, open innovation practices allow you to ask different questions of different communities. As we’ve seen, many companies are embracing these initiatives. More will do the same soon.

So, how can you capture a big enough audience? How can you make sure it is the right audience for your challenge? And, how can you keep participants engaged until you achieve real outcomes?

The solution is to craft your initiatives carefully. You need to maximise your target community’s contribution, taking into account relevance, incentives, communication and good process governance, as I explain next.

1. Find relevance
Many companies have launched ‘suggestion box’ websites, where hundreds, even thousands, of customers can leave their insights. This may seem an easy way to get free ideas. But beware.

How will you decide which ones to implement? Most ideas may prove utterly irrelevant to your business and you’ll strongly affect your returns if you fail to find significance.

Therefore, you have to align your open innovation challenges with your strategic business needs and priorities. To make your efforts worthwhile, you and your leadership team have to define clear timelines and goals, both tangible (projects, ideas and so on) and intangible (culture, positioning, collaboration behaviours and more).

You must not only establish specific and relevant purposes beforehand but also engage those who identify with your cause. Contributors need to share an intellectual and emotional commitment. They have to believe they’ll have an impact on the ability to provide value and have a stake in the value produced.

You should also ponder on Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), pre-establishing a disclaimer/ agreement for idea ownership. IPRs are designed usually to exclude others from using your ideas. So you have to learn how to reconcile the need to assure idea ownership with the need to attract insights from beyond your company’s boundaries. Legal counselling is also advisable.

READ MORE:
Fighting for your audience? Take on the right incentives

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s co-founder/ pdc@exago.com

FROM THE START:
Open innovation and the fight for your audience

Innovation beyond closed corporate walls

‘What is clear to us, and indeed many businesses across all industry sectors, is that, no matter how much we spend on internal research and development, or support our core academic networks, we can never have in place the expertise to cover all of our interests.’ These words appear on Tata Steel’s website, referring to its open innovation challenge launched in 2015.

Many other corporations, such as Apple, Philips, Nokia, Swarovski, BASF and Procter & Gamble, have deployed open innovation initiatives. Here are some more good examples:

// The Samsung Accelerator gives entrepreneurs direct access to the company’s data, decision makers and distribution channels – financing promising ventures.

// The customisation project Lego Design byME allowed fans to design and order their own Lego models.

// Talento com Fibra (Talent with Fibre), a 2012–2013 initiative Exago developed with a client in the telecom industry, challenged graduate students from the best Portuguese universities. In 2012, 275 participants registered, presenting 80 proposals. A year later, 471 students delivered 151 projects. The company’s internal community could then choose 16 finalists whose ideas entered the last selection stage.

// The Suppliers’ Forum is a platform implemented by an Exago health sector client. More than 40 relevant suppliers from different industries can now contribute to improving practices, processes and products, creating value in the group’s supply chain.

From talent spotting through to technology scouting and the development of special connections with main stakeholders, the benefits of open innovation are many, no matter the type of industry or how big or small your organisation.

Still, such programmes have been too often a source of frustrations for managers, leaderships and participants: when they miss their target, when facilitators lack the capacity to manage large and complex volumes of information, as participation grows, and when the ideas presented fail to match the company’s reality and, therefore, are of no consequence.

Time and money are wasted. The programme implodes. Worse, lack of efficiency and relevance and other collateral damage undermine efforts.

Open innovation initiatives, indeed, are not automatic and self-running procedures. They are borne out of strategic thinking and perfected by practice in integrating ideas and skills and reaching good levels of engagement and meaningfulness, as well as carrying out the work involved in converting promises into results.

READ MORE:
How to conquer your audience

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s co-founder/ pdc@exago.com

FROM THE START:
Open innovation and the fight for your audience