The End of Open Innovation

InnovationManagement introduces the new Open Innovation Blog. Read on to find out more about Stefan Lindegaard’s views about the beginning of the end of the open innovation era. Stefan is an author, speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor focused on the topics of open innovation.

I had an interesting session in Sao Paulo, Brazil recently when a group of about 40 people listened to my talk based on my book, The Open Innovation Revolution.

Brazil is definitely an interesting place and I appreciate getting the opportunity to develop new perspectives on my global understanding of innovation.

A question got us into a discussion on how companies should engage with open innovation activities. On this, I really try to emphasize that companies should not engage with open innovation until their internal innovation processes work well. Make order in your own house before you bring in the guests.

I have given this advice for almost two years now. I still think it holds true. However, the discussion got me to reflect upon that we are getting nearer to the beginning of the end of the open innovation era. It will still take several years, but as I think more about this I realize that I pick up more and more signs that we no longer need to focus that much on open innovation itself.

One key sign is that companies other than just the open innovation pioneer, Procter & Gamble have reached a level of innovation maturity in which they no longer distinguish that much between their internal and external driven innovation activities. This just melts together and it is simply just called innovation. Not open innovation, co-creation or other fancy words, just innovation. It does, however, have a key external element to it.

Granted, the large huge majority of companies have not yet reached this maturity. Most are not even close. However, we are reaching a tipping point in which the buzz of open innovation will decline and it will do so fast.

This is actually a good thing as this is a sign that open innovation is now accepted as a valid business strategy and that companies focus on actually making this happen rather than just implementing lots of crowd-sourcing initiatives and then justify this as open innovation strategies.

But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning as open innovation becomes more reality than hype.

Let me re-phrase a great Churchill quote: This is not the end of open innovation. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning as open innovation becomes more reality than hype.

So what will come next? Open innovation will no longer be viewed upon as the most important thing in the innovation community. It is still very important, but it needs to be put into a perspective in which two other elements: fast and global, are just as important. I recently shared some early thoughts on this in a blog post titled Fast, Open and Global – The Future of Innovation.

It would be great to hear your perspectives so please drop a comment…

By Stefan Lindegaard

About Stefan Lindegaard

Stefan LindegaardStefan 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. He facilitates peer-to-peer network groups for corporate innovation directors and managers and he is the founder and facilitator of the 15inno by Stefan Lindegaard group on LinkedIn, which counts more than 1100 global corporate innovation leaders and many others interested in innovation. Stefan Lindegaard believes open innovation requires a global perspective and he has given talks and worked with companies on open innovation in Europe, the U.S. and Asia. His blog is a globally recognized destination on open innovation. You can read further at http://www.15inno.com.
  • Yahir Delzo

    Good new perspective of Open Innovation, I believed that Open Innovation could be a new way to create more innovation, but is “the end of the begining”. Perhaps in Latin America this “end” is still so far to starting.

  • Heinz Essmann

    I agree 100% with your perspective that the concept of Open Innovation is becoming a commonly accepted part of the overall innovation package. But it will always be true that innovation will be incomplete without some form of openness.

    It is sad that some may perceive it as the end of Open Innovation purely because the hype no longer exists. Thank you for the interesting post.

  • Fern

    When so many SMEs are simply still realising that innovation is critical to survival – and wondering how to be innovative – opening up the innovation process is often beyond their grasp. I agree, your points are very valid, in fact by recognising that so many facets of innovating require openness may reduce confusion rather than exaggerated it: That supporting both internal and external innovation activity is effective in growing innovation ability. I look forward to reading your book.

  • http://openopine.wordpress.com Ben

    It could be argued we are seeing a similar trend in other areas, such as social responsibility. A few years back, Michael Porter (of 5 forces fame) made an eloquent argument (along with Mark Kramer) for CSR as a competitive advantage (http://hbr.org/2006/12/strategy-and-society/ar/1). The thing is, once a strategy is recognized as delivering a real advantage, people cease to recognize it as CSR and just call it good business (see cost savings from energy efficiency investments). It’s no longer socially responsible investing when you are beating the market; it’s a winning trading strategy. Business has a way of making up names for emerging trends until they prove themselves, then just absorbing them into the catch-all category of “good management practices” once they do.

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