Open Innovation Bears Fruit (Bars) for General Mills

In Jeff Bellairs’ role overseeing open-innovation efforts at General Mills, he has learned that when you start an open-innovation program, it's critically important to expect, address and embrace significant culture change within your organization in order to establish a successful program.

By anticipating common obstacles and navigating around them, you can promote open-innovation acceptance and success. The following steps helped Bellairs and his team to build the General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network and have helped them to evolve and adapt the program.

Not surprisingly, because it involves cultural change, your open innovation initiative must have the full support of the person in the corner office. Also, the cultural changes required by the open innovation program should be built upon the existing culture, not something totally new that employees are likely to reject. Finally, think of your open innovation group as a resource for your business unit managers. Open innovation executives are not there to launch their own new products, but to engage and support the various leaders in the business units and get them committed to tapping open innovation as one way to meet their business needs.

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