The Open Institute

We are excited to be involved in the new Open Institute in London – an ambitious infrastructure that seeks to offer new opportunities for open education, enterprise, and everyday life for its citizens. We were interviewed by the Institute about all things open innovation and open business recently and the video and overview is below (and originally published on the OI London blog here last week). If you want to find out more about the Institute then join their forthcoming event The Future of Open on 6th July.

Last Thursday, we spoke with Roland Harwood of 100%Open about what the field of Open Innovation is looking like from the business perspective, as well as the role that an Open Institute could play in enabling more Open innovation across businesses and other sectors. Below is a snapshot of key insights from the full interview.

What is Open Innovation?
So far, the field of Open Innovation has tended to be dominated by engineers and technologists – very driven by technological solutions around the sharing of data. But it’s equally about about shifting established rules and rewiring the culture, skills and mindsets, and fundamentally, about organisations starting to admit that they might not necessarily already have all the answers within their own walls. According to Roland, we are taught that as businesses, we need to create value internally. Increasingly, however, businesses have been benefiting from starting to seek answers to their challenges from outside their own boundaries. One of the primary ways in which Open Innovation is made manifest is in the way organisations are leveraging external partners to solve problems. Proctor and Gamble, for instance, have become incredibly agile at identifying which problems to solve internally and those which are best solved by going through their networks of universities, customers and suppliers – half of the new product ideas and services to come from outside its own walls. Similarly, Mozilla, producer of Firefox browser is radically open in the way it operates. With a small core team, it has tens of thousands of people, if not more, within its network of collaborators working to develop new products. They webcast all board meetings, and delegate decisions about the future of the product or business to people who aren’t on the payroll.

We’re also seeing a shift towards greater transparency. The cost of covering up data is becoming more expensive, and ‘Open’ is becoming a default rather than maintaining secrecy and risking a leak with potential repercussions: that forces us to be more responsible citizens and organisations, as in theory, anyone will be able to check how we’ve been spending our time or money.

Roland’s take on what an Open Institute could do
Innovation in the 21st century isn’t necessarily about inventing new solutions, but about being a good detective, and finding existing solutions wherever they may be, which requires building new relationships across sectors and expertise. Businesses tend to be well-networked in their own domains of expertise, sectors, or geographies, but not as good at connecting to others. An institute could cement some of that cross-cutting networks in a positive way, making invisible networks visible or providing co-working spaces with a difference – through spaces allowing big companies to mix with the small, charities with social entrepreneurs, and scaling with companies as they grow, for instance; it could provide guidance on intellectual property regimes, or act as a ‘marketplace’ for buyers and sellers – a needs network for aggregating Open innovation opportunities from any sector that’s easily taggable/searchable.

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