Optimising Your Return on Open Innovation

David recently did a live interview on Twitter Spaces with one of our platform partners, HeroX. They came forward with a few questions to guide the conversation, and the consequent hour was full of fascinating insights and quotable snippets. Adam Olsen, who hosts and produces the Innovation Heroes interviews, describes his motivation behind starting the series:

“It’s time to open up the airways, share strategies, engage partners, and leverage the power of crowd intelligence to expedite solutions to the pressing problems facing every level of organisation, individuals, and the world. The key word here is OPEN. We’re bringing our partners in innovation, organisations who have run their own crowdsourcing projects, innovator powerhouses, and remote work legends into the spotlight.  There is a global network ready to contribute time, energy and intelligence to just about any challenge that comes their way. All we need to do is provide the opportunity.”

As HeroX have noted in their blog post reflecting on the interview, there are five main points that came across during the Twitter Space:

1 – Open Innovation metrics are possible.

Principle number one is to measure the benefits and the costs from both perspectives in your open innovation partnership. Then you can have a successful Jam, work through that list, and make sure both sides agree on what you’re going to get out of it as well as what you’re going to put into it. This proves that you’ve got a set of things to measure: we also have an open innovation metrics tool that contains a list and a formula for tangible data collection. It isn’t about just grabbing as much IP as you can and running for the hills, it’s about creating long-term, stable relationships based on mutual benefits and respect.

2 – Key impediments are now mostly cultural.

There exists a kind of natural innovation antibody in some organisations, which assist in the resisting of external ideas regardless of whether they are objectively good or bad. To get through this initial blocker, it is important to encourage the idea of ‘proudly invented elsewhere’; instead of an alien, threatening thing, external ideas become helpful. They are time savers, money savers, quality-of-life improvers, and are easier to welcome and accept. This lends to the fact that company culture is 5x more important than e.g. platform design when determining the success of open innovation. If it is treated as such, and respected in this manner, your approach to OI design thinking will radically change, absolutely for the better.

3 – Open Innovation gets you ahead of the competition.

As the notion of innovation itself rapidly evolves, open innovation becomes more and more valuable. Every company is expected to innovate 24/7 and it is impossible to keep up, regardless of whether you’re a smaller or larger organisation. Innovation just for the sake of innovation will disadvantage you, but carefully crafted employment of open innovation will keep you nourished in the long term, as well as preventatively ready for whatever sort of curveballs the market/your sector has in store.

4 – The key is to find your ‘Challenge Holder’.

As the saying goes, you’re as strong as your weakest link. Find that weak link and you’ll find your challenge holder. This does not mean that the weak link is a person, however; it means that the challenge holder is someone or a group of people in your organisation that represent a burning requirement. It may not be obvious, it may not be a universal problem, but it is a specific must-have (not a vague nice-to-have).

5 – Open procurement is about moving from supply ‘chains’ to supply ‘nets’.

Chains seem to be antithetical to the ethos of open innovation. A chain implies hierarchy, inequality, and competition for the sake of personal benefit. A net, on the other hand, implies a healthy space for competition and collaboration as the notion of one being better than another does not come from a pre-formed, inflexible structure. It also implies multiple points of contact so, for example, there are multiple buying points contracted to you within any given supply net. Open procurement is therefore a more stable way to run a business, and gives more opportunity to new/different/more innovative avenues.

Feel free to listen to the whole interview here, and tune into future episodes of Innovation Heroes on Twitter Spaces, hosted by HeroX. As always, if you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to leave a comment or send us an email to hello@100open.com.

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