Most innovation professionals are familiar with the benefits and the power of open innovation: the ability to find quality ideas at a lower cost and get them to market faster (just to name a few). However, experienced executives who are used to the old form of closed research & development practices are suspicious of the idea that the next big breakthrough at your company can be found elsewhere. They’re also nervous about gathering ideas in a public forum where the competitors also might be able to find them. But the time has come for a shift in perspective. The arm’s race for intellect is over and the way that companies are distinguishing themselves is not on their intellectual capital, but on their ability to implement intelligently and efficiently.
When it comes to implementation there are three things that companies ought to be thinking about in order to maintain a competitive advantage:
Sometimes innovation makes executives nervous, because it seems more like a combination of luck and art. But process makes innovation repeatable, even predictable. But the process needs to maximize multiple inputs, allow for evaluation and vetting that assists selection, and fast tracks ideas for implementation and testing so that ideas without legs fail quickly and successful ideas begin to generate returns.
Get feedback from multiple inputs. Let the crowd share and vote on ideas, ask for feedback from a diverse group of people as you refine it, find new ways to prioritize. With transparent idea management systems, this is even more scalable.
If you know that a specific person or department is difficult to deal with, you may be tempted to work around them. You may approve for a portion of the marketing budget to be used for a new process without involving the head of marketing. However, that is a recipe for disaster. By involving everyone from the beginning, you can reach compromises, avoid hard feelings, and avoid attempts to sabotage the implementation of a new idea. But you can also find new champions in unlikely places by opening up the innovation process, the idea author might want to steward their idea, people who followed the idea might want to pledge their time to it. Find ways to leverage the crowd as it evolves.
By Rob Hoehn
Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.