One unique strategy comes from GE’s energy business, which ran a crowdsourcing campaign that resulted in 70,000 ideas. The company made the unusual decision to appoint a community innovation manager, who has been working with community participants to keep them engaged and to find alternate uses for some of the promising ideas that didn’t make the short list of 23 ideas that were selected for funding and further development.
The company has also demonstrated a surprisingly open approach to nurturing ideas, even if they cannot make them part of GE’s business, Chesbrough says. “Since they have such a strong position there, it’s really in their long-term interest to have a very fertile growing set of ideas taking root upstream, because they will have a first look even though they cannot actually control what happens to them. Because they see them earlier than anybody else, they’ll have the ability to take action, and they see that as a real benefit,” he explains.
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