How Effective is Open Innovation?

This month we’ve been thinking about how the popularity of all the tools in our toolkits has varied over the years, and why we think that is.

For example, this month’s tool in the spotlight is 100%Open Innovation Metrics. It is curious that this particular tool has seen very little light over the past 14 years, yet is becoming one of our most popular. Many organisations now have the opportunity to look back  at their open innovation programmes with an appraising eye. With some evidence behind them, they are weighing up the effectiveness of being open. Does it result in faster innovation, more profit or higher scientific value? And if it does, is it worth it? Is the money committed to running competitions, managing partnerships and venturing well spent? The three word business case for open innovation is Better Faster Cheaper, and we have helped  organisations to put this to the test in recent projects. The first thing we examine is benchmarking. How is their OI doing compared to their other innovation programmes? How are they doing compared to others? We’ve found that what has changed over the past decades as open innovation has been growing up is the amount of published academic data.

There is now a treasure trove of approaches and case studies to be explored. For one of our clients, we were interested in how important the different components of open innovation are compared to each other. Should they invest in network-building, platform design or training? Is sponsor engagement or incentive more important?  I want to share an amazing fact (Gawde and Prakash, 2016) – that organisation culture is the most important determining factor of open innovation success. Culture is five times more important than the platform used and even more important than the target audience and the consequences of the programme!

Lastly, when using a more scientific approach to open innovation, it turns out that organisations need to set up various sets of metrics (lagging, mid-term and leading indicators) to understand and chart their progress. Open innovation is rapidly becoming more science than art which, in business, is a good thing. However, even the best practice OI process and structure is less likely to succeed without an open corporate mind. How open is your organisation?

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