Overcoming Barriers in Implementing Open Innovation

Many companies today pilot open innovation (OI) and crowdsourcing, but only few are making it a permanent practice. A consortium of six German SMEs finds that OI can radically improve the productivity of technical problem solving, but demands strong internal promoters and dedicated processes to overcome resistance and barriers.

This article identifies 11 different barriers types which may emerge in the course of crowdsourcing for technical problem solving: (1) workflow rigidity; (2) NIH (not-invented-here) syndrome; (3) lack of internal commitment; (4) bottom-up management; (5) insufficient resources; (6) allocating wrong task to pilot; (7) insufficient top management support; (b8) unrealistic expectation; (9) legal barriers; (10) organizational / administrative barriers; (11) and communication barriers.

Researchers at RWTH Aachen University have learned that engaging with powerful minds outside the organization demands powerful support roles within the firm. But there is not one single OI champion. Innovation processes are complex and involve different persons, departments and disciplines. Hence, only a multi-personal role model is effective in providing conditions to overcome inertia in complex innovation projects. Their research shows that a troika of three promoters can help an organization best to overcome the internal forces that hinder open innovation.

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