The Frustration of Open Innovation

I recently held a workshop in which a couple of the participants – all from the same company – had some struggles finding out why they should embrace open innovation.

This skepticism was not driven by satisfaction with their current innovation processes and culture . On the contrary, this seemed to be seriously flawed creating lots of frustration within their organization.

So you should think they would be open to changes in their approach. They were not and I think their main reason for being skeptical came as they understood that open innovation requires a lot of hard work while also bringing the uncertainty that usually follows changes.

Even more importantly, they could see this will not happen if they do not have full support from their executives to go open. They do not have this. The executives did talk about going open, but they had not yet managed to truly embrace this new paradigm shift.

No wonder innovation-driven employees in a company with a flawed process and culture and no clear leadership on how to deal with this become frustrated.

So they rightfully asked the question why should they embrace open innovation. I used the traditional arguments that if done right open innovation provides access to larger pool of resources, faster speed to market and higher innovation productivity. It took a while but the participants eventually bought fully into the idea that you need to go open in order to win the innovation game.

It helped that the other companies at the workshop did not have this skepticism. On they contrary, they fully believed in the concept although they – as any other company – had their struggles getting this right.

This made me think that open innovation – with all the change and uncertainty it brings – can be extremely frustrating to innovation leaders and other employees. Especially if they are led by executives who are not fully capable of leading in tough times.

How can companies as well as individual deal with this frustration? I will think further about this and it would be great hearing your input…

  • Yahir Delzo

    Again with a theorical explanation of Open Innovation, it’s right when you try to explain Open Innovation Flow people show frustrated or skeptical; but, I think that when you start to follow an innovation process, at least one or two times you will follow a open innovation process.

  • Deanna

    Your thoughts support the need for a creative mindset and the ability to adapt to disruptive occasions.

  • Zulfiqar Deo

    I think if see what Vijay Govindarajan recently highlighted in his book about innovation management you will see some of the reasons why companies have this concern.

    There is a particular momentum and herd behaviour we all follow. This momentum may change direction but it does take time for all the new skills and expertise to be understood and effectively incorporated in the how the company is trying to be.

    This is evident from your comments and certified by common experience across industry.

    In my own experience I worked closely with Industry, with my University and with a case company to identify why strategy implementation and strategy execution are differing notions. is the journal with my article.

    In terms of open innovation and my experience. I found all of Stefan’s comments about the advantages of open innovation to be accurate. The time to market was lower, the robustness of the end result was greater, the skills and expertise at my disposal were higher. The case company solution remained confidential as per their request and the theory generated added to business strategic thought.

    The advantage I had was I was working on my own and hence no concerns of working within the confines set by anyone else or being restricted by depending in other peoples decision making.

    I hope this shows how open innovation works in practice and can be used for commercial gain and knowledge creation at the same time in a way its a win win solution for all parties concerned.