An Openly Innovative Attitude.

As a “newbie” to the innovation sector, I have to admit I had some help from the jargon buster. I’ve also come to understand that open innovation is no longer a novelty concept, rather a part of the culture at the heart of many companies, including Carlsberg, Argos, and Oxfam.

This openness is helping them challenge conservative approaches and move on culturally. In our 10 year history, we have seen Open Innovation go from experimental to mainstream.

However, even 100%Open doesn’t believe it’s the right answer to every question, just a sensible part of a portfolio of innovation methodologies.

There are more traditional methods to develop a company’s USPs through R&D,  through being the first to market as well as ensuring established IP protection.

Opening innovation up

On the other hand – we have Open Innovation – this helps organisations, large and small to assume a more collaborative and outward-looking approach.

There have been numerous contributing factors to the rise of open innovation and the decline of a more ‘closed-off’ innovation approach.

  1. It’s simpler and easier to get around, there is also a growing number of educated people, so there is more insight beyond the traditional research centers of large companies.
  2. There is unarguably an increased level of venture capital activity.
  3. Steadily greater licensing opportunities brings new opportunities outside the realm of organisations’ internal operations.
  4. People are increasingly reaping the benefits of sharing information, co-creating and building value networks, like InnovateUK.
  5. Particularly after the financial crisis of 2008, people have woken up to the interdependence of our economies. During our project with Unilever our team realised that in today’s marketplace, a company can no longer rely on its own capabilities – in order to successfully compete effectively, it needs to collaborate in a network with suppliers, customers and, yes, even competitors.

Upon reflection, even more, organisations including EE, have embraced the ethos: “not all the smart people work for us”. Although there has been resistance, many are starting to look at new ways to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their innovation process, therefore, developing a new mindset.

Logically it makes sense that opening up, and breaking the barriers to ideation leads to a higher quality of insight and innovation. Firms are able to effectively modernise, and strengthen brand identification through collaborations, therefore opening up new avenues and markets and creating a dialogue with customers.

During my first Union meet-up, I was able to meet a range of innovation professionals who are open to learning from others outside of their internal teams, as well as provide help for peers in other organisations who have innovation problems they’d like to solve. It was incredible to see such generosity.

I predict there’ll be no slow-down of the adoption of openness across the many industries. Bring it on!


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