Are you an Innovation Ostrich or Bear?

Let’s not kid ourselves, the UK business environment is tough and won’t get much easier this year as uncertainty lingers and Brexit bites. In times of stress, we have noticed that large organisations line up into two camps, the Innovation Ostriches and the Innovation Bears. The first group, the Ostriches, conserve resources, put innovation off and wait for better times. The second, the Bears, go exploring. It’s not easy to be an Innovation Bear in an organisation at the moment as money’s tight, markets are unpredictable, and pretty much everything is a risk. So how do you do it? And why bother?

This is 100%Open’s third recession in our 12 year history – indeed, we spun out of Nesta in the largest downturn since WW1. What has preserved us through these times is the business model for Open Innovation itself. This strategy gets you more creative innovation, at a faster & cheaper rate than doing it yourself – highly relevant in today’s conditions. In addition, SMEs are becoming ever keener to cooperate. Innovation Bears already know this and many organisations are switching to a greater proportion of open innovation in the mix. It is these that will be likely to survive and prosper as the world gets back on its feet – they have a head start, after all.


  1. Crises are an opportunity to improve. Especially a systemic crisis like the current Corona pandemic offers a great starting point for this because it affects all structures across countries and sectors. Corona is forcing a change, a rethinking of the world. It is therefore fatal not to invest in (sustainable) innovations in this situation.
    Of course, entrepreneurs are right to complain about liquidity shortages due to falling sales. But especially when the money and other resources for R&D are not there, it seems sensible to test other ways instead of putting oneself in the victim role. If bankruptcy seems inevitable anyway, why not say goodbye to old habits and open up? Open up, for example, to stakeholders to see if they have an idea for a new approach?
    Suppliers in particular have a strong self-interest in helping their customers in order to protect their own sales markets, and employees usually don’t want to lose their jobs either.
    What sounds so logical and understandable is often difficult to implement.One reason for this is that effective stakeholder management is necessary but not available. But even more important for an open innovation approach, and therefore often the reason for its failure or rejection, is that the corporate culture must support this change. For this purpose, scientifically based methods are available that have proven themselves in practice in order to recognise what type of corporate culture we are dealing with and to identify which characteristics can contribute to a change.
    After all, what is it to be an Ostrich or a Bear?

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