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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Open Innovation Frustration

by Stefan Lindegaard

Open Innovation FrustrationLast week, I held a workshop in which a couple of the participants - all from the same company - had some struggles finding out why they should embrace open innovation.

This skepticism was not driven by satisfaction with their current innovation processes and culture. On the contrary, this seemed to be seriously flawed and creating lots of frustration within their organization.

So you should think they would be open to changes in their approach. They were not. I think their main reason for being skeptical came as they understood that open innovation requires a lot of hard work, while also bringing with it the uncertainty that usually follows change.

Even more importantly, they could see this will not happen in their organization if they do not have the full support of their executives to go open. They do not have this. The executives did talk about going open, but they had not yet managed to truly embrace this new paradigm shift.

No wonder innovation-driven employees in a company with a flawed innovation process and culture and no clear leadership on how to deal with this become frustrated.

So they rightfully asked the question - why should they embrace open innovation? I used the traditional arguments, that if done right open innovation provides access to larger pool of resources, faster speed to market and higher innovation productivity. It took a while but the participants eventually bought fully into the idea that you need to go open in order to win the innovation game.

It helped that the other companies at the workshop did not have this scepticism. On the contrary, they fully believed in the concept although they - as any other company - had their struggles getting this right.

This made me think that open innovation - with all the change and uncertainty it brings - can be extremely frustrating to innovation leaders and other employees. Especially if they are led by executives who are not fully capable of leading in tough times.

How can companies as well as individual deal with this frustration?

I will think further about this and would love to hear your input...

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Stefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation.

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Anonymous Heidi Günther said...

I think there are two main reasons for the companies' frustration about open innovation:
First, a typical not-invented-here effect and the lacking ability to trust external ideas.
Second, the buzzword problem: We hear about open innovation all day long and many companies claim to embrace it. But when can we really speak of open innovation? Just when we make use of external ideas or only when we guarantee all sources to use outcomes jointly?

6:23 AM  
Blogger Christy said...

I think you would need to create an exercise that aims that making innovation personal for these companies. It may be simply showing how innovation works on all levels, in low-tech as well as high-tech situations, or trying to pinpoint what the goal of innovation would look like for the company.

There's more, but I have to get back to writing about how innovation in the past has NOT worked in developing countries

12:58 PM  

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