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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Silos and Innovation - Break Down or Work Around?

by Stefan Lindegaard

Silos and Innovation - Break Down or Work Around?"How do you break down internal silos in order to improve at innovation? Open innovation - or any kind of innovation - suffers with silos. What are your insights and experiences on this issue?"

I posted these questions in the 15inno by Stefan Lindegaard group on LinkedIn about a month ago. We got 28 comments with lots of great advice. (Click on Discussions in the group if you want to read this). I have been looking through these comments a couple of times as I wanted to write a blog posts with an excerpt on this.

This has not yet happened and one reason is that I have begun thinking differently about silos and their impact on innovation.

Perhaps we do not have to break down silos to drive more innovation. Perhaps we should just accept the silos and work around the issues they can create on innovation. Perhaps open innovation will change things by itself.

Let me share some thoughts on this.

The smart people with drive and energy - and an interest in innovation - that I meet are most often attracted to great ideas and initiatives with a potential to really make a difference. Often, they do not care about the nitty-gritty kind of incremental innovation which proven and time-tested processes in silos also can take care of by itself.

We all know that corporate executives also crave for innovation that can really make a difference and as they begin to accept the loss of control and potential side-effects (check this blog post on open innovation side-effects) that are related to open innovation, it becomes easier for smart people from different parts of a company as well as for external partners to gather around the ideas that can really make a difference.

Why? A key reason is that we are getting more and more tools and solutions that allows us to innovate across corporate as well as industry boundaries. Just take a look at these initiatives: InnoCentive@Work, Intuit Brainstorm and Inno360. The latter is a software developer working with still un-identified open innovation leaders to develop the next generation open innovation platforms.

When corporate executives willingly accept more experimentation and a fair amount of failure on the innovation process itself, they will begin to understand that innovation delivers best when different business functions - and external partners - come together to develop products, services, solutions and processes that meet the needs of users and customers. This mindset change can be re-enforced by the above technology development.

We also have to remember that innovation can be radical in many different ways. It does not only apply to market approaches or technologies. Innovation can be just as radical with regards to the internal processes.

This is what this is really about and as with any kind of initiatives with a radical, disruptive or breakthrough potential, we need different approaches and setups that provides protection from the bureaucracy and corporate politics we have to deal with in any larger organization. So if companies really want to embrace open innovation, they will have to make organizational adjustments.

I believe this development will reduce silo-related obstacles on innovation although it will take several years before most companies reach this level of innovation maturity. Until then, it might still be relevant to check out the advice given in the LinkedIn discussion that inspired this post...


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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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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Can Social Media Tools Hinder Innovation?

by Stefan Lindegaard

Can Social Media Tools Hinder Innovation?What happens with innovation if executives and managers begin to fear social media tools like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook - and perhaps even LinkedIn?

I wonder how big this issue really is after having read about a survey from Chef.se, a Swedish website for executives and managers. It showed that an increasing number of executives and managers are afraid ending up - involuntary - on the above sites. Furthermore, 18% said that they know of incidents where employees had posted in-appropriate or false information about their companies using social media tools.

I have always sensed some reluctance towards the new social media tools from the upper ranks. Unfortunately, it becomes somewhat understandable with the above information although I still believe benefits such as faster communication and better reach clearly outweigh drawbacks that tend to evolve on loss of control issues.

Perhaps this is not such a big thing today, but it might grow in the coming years. I got to think of a recent comment made by Michael Falling Soerensen, CEO of Nosco, a idea management software company to a blog post:

"Today, teens take pride in sharing and collaborating as much as possible - and are constantly seeking to expand their network - all vital factors in getting an innovative culture up and running..."

I think this is quite true and it even extends up to people in the early twenties. This will have an impact on innovation culture in many companies as this generation enter the workforce in full strength.

Their mindset fits perfectly with elements needed for a more open and external focused innovation culture so we can expect to see interesting - and different - things from this work-group. That is if the executives and managers see this as an opportunity and release the potential rather than treating it as a threat and as a sign that they have to cede control.

How big is this issue? Are we lining up for a clash between generations? Let me know what you think.


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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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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Guiding Principles of Open Innovation - Communication

by Stefan Lindegaard

Guiding Principles of Open Innovation - CommunicationI have just attended a great conference by 100% Open, a new agency specializing in open innovation. They have an interesting Jam & Discover approach to open innovation and they also run networks and do training and venturing.

At the conference, I picked up a new report: Open innovation - From marginal to mainstream. In this report they have some great guiding principles on communication and I've shared them below because I believe they are worth sharing.

100% Open Guiding Principle on Communication:
  • Many large organisations are trying to become open innovators by first trying to change their culture. Whilst this is rational, it rarely seems to work. Companies will often change their ways of doing things more happily and spontaneously if the see first-hand evidence of colleagues adopting a new approach and it working. Success sells.

  • Communicate with the outside world effectively. We've see many a large organisation get so wrapped up in its open innovation process and goals to the extent that it fails to communicate effectively, thereby rendering the endeavour less effective.

  • If Corporate Open Innovation requires different structures, it also requires a different way of thinking. The new mindset needs to be more cooperative and less command-and-control - and its new innovators need to be literally open-minded and communicative.

  • If a company is to place open innovation at its heart, management needs to communicate supportively and instigate mechanisms and behaviours that encourage it. Whose responsibility is it? How is open innovation rewarded? When and where does open it happen?

  • Setting an innovation culture is also about personal transformation, starting at the top. Do organisations have enough polymath leaders - multi-skilled individuals, who combine designer flair, engineering skill and marketing imagination? Training and recruitment will play a part.

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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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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Earning Recognition and Respect

by Stefan Lindegaard

Earning Recognition and RespectIn Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell stated that it takes 10 years to become an expert in any given subject.

Many people actually reach this level. You might not be a professor or best-selling author, but you have probably worked long enough to become an expert in your given field - or you are on your way.

Yet, people having enough knowledge to qualify as a thought leader or expert do not get the recognition or credit they deserve - and often long for.

This is an interesting paradox. You work hard and at some point expect/hope to be perceived as an expert or thought leader, but it does not happen.

Why? The clutter of information and knowledge that surrounds us makes it so much more difficult to break through even if we have great, original ideas and an impressive knowledge base.

It is no longer enough just to qualify by knowledge to become an expert; you also need to know how to communicate and how to build a personal brand in order to become one.

I have spent more than 10 years on the topics of innovation and entrepreneurship. I am on the verge of breaking through and a recent incident prompted me to write this post and share my experiences and lessons as this might help others trying to figure out this paradox.

Obviously, this 'topic' is too broad to be covered in just one post so I will start out by sharing a few tips on what to consider if you want to be perceived as a thought leader or expert and then most likely follow-up with more posts.

Passion: You need to be passionate about what you are doing. I hope that this one is already in place for people who qualify as experts. If you decide to spend ten years on a given topic or business area then I really hope you have a passion for what you are doing.

Actually, I would argue that you could not deliver quality work over such a long period if you do not have a passion for what you do. Nevertheless, I too often meet people doing things they do not really like doing. I just do not get this...

Persistence: I remember when I started blogging several years ago. Sure, people will just come and read my thoughts. Nothing happened. Then, I got a couple of articles published in Strategy & Innovation, a respected newsletter from Innosight. Sure, companies will start looking into my services now. Nothing happened.

I started to engage with Twitter and became quite adept on social media in general. This helped drive some traffic to my blog. Sure, companies would now approach me. Things began to happen although slowly which I hope is also due to the current crisis :-). In May, I publish my first book, The Open Innovation Revolution by John Wiley & Sons, a respected, international publisher. I am curious what will happen afterwards, but the lesson here is very simple.

Nothing happens if you are not persistent.

Build a following: You do great work and you want to share this with the world. You might even want other people to help you spread the word on your work. Today, this starts by understanding how social media works. Personally, I use LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube as I focus on business topics. Others might also benefit from building a strong presence on Facebook.

Co-create with others: I recently opened up 15inno.com for other contributions on open innovation. The reason for doing this is two-fold. I really believe that sharing what is happening in the open innovation community helps this movement to continue growing. The other reason is that helping others getting recognition most likely also benefits yourself in the long run.

Be honest and 'share' yourself: I share private thoughts and lessons here. I do not have to, but I have learned that what many people really like is honesty as this reveals integrity, which again helps build authenticity. Thus, I also really appreciated this endorsement by Steve Shapiro, a great thought leader on innovation and business for my upcoming book:


"If you want 'open,' look no further. Stefan's open and (sometimes brutally) honest account of open innovation is refreshing. There is no B.S., theory, or fluff. You only get practical advice for making open innovation a reality in your organization. Let the revolution begin."

- Stephen Shapiro, Author, 24/7 Innovation; Chief Innovation Evangelist, InnoCentive


I am pleased by this as it really reflects my values of being open to helping others, working with a passion and being honest. You should try this approach as well.

What drives people to be perceived as a thought leader or expert? Money is probably on the list, but personally, my goal is to be able to work with things I feel passionate about, where I can continue to develop myself - and to get some recognition for this.

Can you relate to this? If so, then it would be great to hear about your experiences and insights...


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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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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Smaller Companies Should Embrace Open Innovation Too

by Stefan Lindegaard

Smaller Companies Should Embrace Open Innovation TooOpen innovation at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) presents both great opportunities and great challenges. Forming open innovation relationships can give a growing enterprise access to resources that might normally are beyond their reach with the potential for greatly speeding up time to market. At the same time, working with larger - and in some case much larger companies - is not without its perils.

Let's consider a growing startup or a small company that is on its way to become a mid-sized enterprise. The early phases are very much about executing on single, great product, idea or technology. However, as the company grows focus tends to shift towards control rather than keeping the visionary thinking and bold approaches that build the company. This must be re-ignited. Open innovation can be the vehicle for accomplishing this objective.

Because of the high level of risk-taking involved with young ventures, leaders of entrepreneurial enterprises often have healthy or even outsized egos; it takes a certain amount of hubris to believe you can defeat the high odds against the success of a new venture. This can lead you to believe that you and your people have the best ideas. But in reality, there is a strong possibility that the best people and the best ideas are to be found outside your organization.

One key reason for Procter & Gamble to initiate open innovation programs was that they learned that for each of their 7,500 R&D people there were 200 people outside the company with equal skills and competences. An ignorant - and arrogant - company would ignore these 1.5 million people, arguing they do not matter as they do not work for us. P&G did not ignore this. They understood they should connect their own organization with the best and brightest from the outside world. Given the limited size of smaller companies, this mindset becomes even more important.

As I wrote earlier, SMEs often start with one great product or service idea and as they grow they might fail to recognize that innovation is about more than just bringing the core product or service to market. Innovation can occur at all stages of the business process, from the business model itself through to the customer experience. By broadening their thinking about what actually constitutes innovation, SMEs can more easily see the wisdom of open innovation, which can help them innovate in areas where they may not have internal expertise.

I will post more thoughts on open innovation for SME's in the future. Let me know if you have any comments on this or if you know of smaller companies that have adapted open innovation. It would be interesting to get to know more about their processes, failures and successes in order to get a better understanding of how this is different from large companies. Since small and large companies meet on open innovation, they need to start learning more about each other on this.


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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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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Creating a Networking Culture

by Stefan Lindegaard

Creating a Networking CultureIn my previous post, Why a Networking Culture Is Important, I argued that a strong innovation culture requires a strong networking culture. But what does a good networking culture looks like?

It is such a new concept that there are not lot of examples available to illustrate it, but here are some key components of a good networking culture:
  • Top executives and innovation leaders have outlined clear strategic reasons why employees need to develop and nurture internal and external relationships. This includes making clear how your company's networking culture links with and supports your innovation strategy (which, of course, is an outgrowth of your overall corporate strategy.)

  • Among the things to consider when developing your networking culture strategy is what types of networks you hope to build to support your innovation efforts. If your organization is moving toward open innovation, possibilities would include peer-to-peer networks for people working with open innovation in different companies, value - and supply - chain networks, feeder networks, and events and forums connecting problem solvers and innovators with your company.

  • Leaders show a genuine and highly visible commitment to networking. Leaders must walk the walk, not just talk the talk. By making themselves available at networking events and by being visible users of virtual networking tools, they model the desired behavior and motivate others to participate. After all, who doesn't want a chance to exchange ideas with the top brass?

  • Leaders should also share examples of their networking experiences whenever possible. Spread the word about your own and others' networking successes. Hearing leaders talk repeatedly about how networking is helping the organization in its innovation efforts will reinforce the message that this is important.

  • Networking initiatives mesh closely with your corporate culture. This is not one-size-fits-all; each company's networking efforts will differ. You can take bits and pieces, concepts and theories, knowledge and experience from others, but you still need to make it work for your own company.

  • People are given time and means to network. Frequent opportunities are provided to help individuals polish their personal networking skills. Not everyone is a natural networker. But almost everyone can become good at it with proper training and encouragement.

  • Both virtual and face-to-face networking are encouraged and supported. Web 2.0 tools and facilitated networking events maximize the opportunities people have to initiative and build strong relationships.

Let me know what you think and please feel free to add more components.


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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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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why a Networking Culture Is Important

by Stefan Lindegaard

Why a Networking Culture is ImportantThe reason for creating a networking culture is obvious once you look at the current and future direction of innovation. Let's start by disposing of the myth of the lone genius (the Thomas Edisons and the Alexander Graham Bells of yesteryear) arriving at a breakthrough innovation on his/her own.

This model wasn't true then, and even if it were, it simply does not hold true in today's complex business organizations. Technology and the challenges that must be solved have become so complex that many, perhaps even most, companies can no longer rely solely on their own internal innovation geniuses, no matter how brilliant those people may be.

Innovation is increasingly about having groups of people come together to leverage their diverse talents and expertise to solve multi-faceted challenges that cross multiple disciplines. To make this happen within your organization, and beyond as you move toward open innovation, requires a networking culture that is designed, supported, and modeled by your company's leaders.

Even organizations that are not ready to fully embrace open innovation are finding that employees' mindsets about networking must be stretched as more companies deploy internal R & D functions outside the corporate headquarters and around the world.

Employees start to wonder who should do innovation and where it should take place. Although this is positive, success in such situations depends heavily on the ability of the employees to initiate, solidify, and leverage external relationships.

Another key motivation for setting up networking initiatives is based on the simple fact that the knowledge of any company is inside the heads of the employees. Discovering and distributing this knowledge has always been a challenge, and now, more than ever, the ability to leverage a company's collective knowledge and experience through virtual and face-to-face networks and communities is critical to innovation.

Furthermore, establishing the ability to bring knowledge and potential new innovation insights in from external sources demands a strong networking culture supported and modeled from the top.

In one of my next posts, I will give some advice on how to create a networking culture.

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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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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Simple Justification for Open Innovation

by Stefan Lindegaard

Simple Justification for Open InnovationI stumbled over an interesting paper, "Sourcing External Technology for Innovation", by the Alliance Management Group which has developed lots of great content including the Want--Find--Get--Manage framework below:
  • Want - What external resource(s) does the firm want to access from the outside world to meet its strategic intent?

  • Find - What mechanisms will the firm use to find these external resources?

  • Get - What processes will the firm use to plan, structure and negotiate an agreement to access the resources?

  • Manage - What tools, metrics and management techniques will the firm use to implement the relationship?

The article focuses on the Want element of this framework and what I in particular liked is the equation: A + B = C. I have inserted the below edited snippets from the article in order to introduce you to the equation.

We will define our terms:
  • Variable A - "Represents the firm's existing 'assets' including its production equipment, core capabilities, intellectual assets, resources and perhaps even its market presence."

  • Variable B - "Represents assets that are complementary to the firm's resource base and are only available externally."

  • Variable C - "Represents the new product or market offering that goes beyond what the firm is able to deliver utilizing its existing 'assets' alone."

Variable C is a more valuable commercial result that comes from combining the firm's existing 'assets' (Variable A) with those sourced externally (Variable B). This simple equation makes a simple point. If the firm does not access external technology (i.e. there is no Variable B) then Variable C will be limited to what can be achieved using existing capabilities and assets. In other words, Variable C is determined by Variable A.

The goal of the A + B = C equation is to find new value that the firm cannot identify using traditional planning processes. Internal resources (A) retain their prominent role and integrate with external resources (B) to enable a visionary market offering (C) that was unthinkable just yesterday.

When the organization purposefully moves in this direction, senior executives require project managers to redefine C as a variable, enabled by A and B. This is an uncomfortable change for some managers because Variable C is ill-defined, Variable B is fuzzy and Variable A is the only known quantity.



I believe open innovation is about bridging internal and external resources and to identify and execute on the opportunities that arise on this interaction. I like how The Alliance Management Group turns this into an equation and I wanted to share this with you.

Don't forget to read the full article: "Sourcing External Technology for Innovation"


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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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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Open Innovation Side Effects

by Stefan Lindegaard

Open Innovation Side EffectsOpen innovation will not only lead to new ways of making innovation happen. Innovation leaders and their executives will also experience side effects. I think most of these effects will be positive, but some will be mixed or perhaps even negative.

As innovation leaders and their executives implement open innovation practices, they can just as well start figuring out how to deal with side effects of open innovation such as described below:
  • Open innovation is very much about managing change. If a company can handle the change process related to implementing open innovation, then they have learned valuable lessons that can be used in change management situations. In the current and future business climate, I think everyone should appreciate working in an organization that is agile and prepared for changes.

  • Often, the biggest enemy of innovation is the company itself as the company begin to focus more on its needs than the needs of the market. When you begin to innovate with partners, you will see that these partners either focus on their own needs - and then innovation will definitely fail - or you will see that they come together and funnel their resources towards a market need. If the latter happens, then you have a great chance to succeed with innovation. Pressure from external partners can shift awareness from internal needs to market needs and this move can be helpful beyond the innovation process.

  • Open innovation can bring along new organizational structures. As open innovation becomes the way to innovate, the functional/divisional or matrix organizational structures as we know today will change - or perhaps even break down. I am not sure what will be next...

  • Open innovation will be one of the key drivers in bringing in new types of communication tools into the organization. Think LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Once the initial resistance has been defeated, this can benefit many business functions.

  • Customers are one of the first places to look for external input. Although, there are dangers involved in listening to customers when it comes to innovation, the increased focus on customers can lead to better relationships with them. This can change the role of sales and marketing units as they need to get even more involved in innovation.

  • At a recent open innovation conference, Cisco said that they are trying to move from a culture of competition to a culture of shared goals. This was by large driven by a desire to make innovation happen with external partners. There is much talk on changing the not-invented-here culture, but perhaps open innovation will drive even more corporate culture change.

  • As you work with external partners, you are exposed to other ways of getting things done. You bring diversed thinking into the organization. This can make you consider whether your current practices are good enough, whether you have to adjust these or perhaps even develop new next practices for your organization. An example: You get new perspectives on collaboration. Perhaps this can inspire to better interaction and collaboration between business units.

  • Overall creativity as well as overall complexity increase with open innovation. The increased number of actors provides new ways for people to be creative. This can also increase the level of complexity, which is also driven by fact that the organization is no longer itself in control.

Let me know what you think of this and please share your own views.


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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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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Making Your Organization Understand Open Innovation

A Lesson from General Mills


by Stefan Lindegaard

Making Your Organization Understand Open InnovationChanging organizational culture is one of the most difficult tasks when it comes to open innovation. What can you do? Well, General Mills gave a great example at the recent CoDev conference. By sending more than 20 people to the conference, they sent a strong signal - internally as well as externally - that they are committed to open innovation.

I really liked this move and thus I did an interview with Mike Antinone, who is Sr. R&D Manager, Connected Innovation in General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network, in order to get a better understanding on this.


What made you decide to send this delegation to CoDev?

We had two main reasons for sending our GWIN team to CoDev this year. The first was really around team building. We have added several new team members as we expand our global innovation entrepreneur program and we wanted to have some time away from the daily demands of the office to foster an added sense of community.

The second area for us was to collectively learn and leverage the insights and best practices of other open innovation leaders represented at the conference and then create a plan of action to determine how we can best incorporate those insights and practices into our group.


What were the objectives?

We feel great about the progress that we have made with our Connected Innovation program, but we also wanted to put some serious thinking into "Next Practices" - those practices that we will need in the future to drive our program ahead and distance ourselves from competitors. We did not want to just go and listen, take notes, have a quick discussion then go back to our daily routine. Our goal was to create tangible action steps that we would incorporate into our development plans for our program.

We began our preparations about six to eight weeks before the conference. We divided the group into four teams with each team being responsible for a given topic. We chose to focus on three key objectives for our company. These were:
  1. Driving profitable growth through Connected Innovation

  2. Creating and leveraging more successful partnerships

  3. Driving Connected Innovation throughout our company

Each team then created a list of questions they wanted answered about how we as innovation entrepreneurs could dramatically impact the three objectives outlined above. Our goal was to collect as many facts as possible.

The fourth team set up a series of networking opportunities, both before and after the conference to provide stimulus for answers to our questions. Some of those networking opportunities included:
  • Smaller match-making events at the conference. We prearranged a series of discussions with conference participants. We met during breaks, at lunch, etc. to engage in a dialog about areas we wanted to advance and grow as an organization.

  • Utilization of CoDev LinkedIn site. We posted several questions on the LinkedIn site to gain additional insights and make connections

  • We also made sure we had prepared germane questions for each of the speakers to ensure we were tapping into their area of expertise.

Our team stayed in Scottsdale an extra day after the conference ended to have a working breakout session to summarize our key findings and to create an action plan going forward. During this session, we created list of "we-should" statements in our breakout sessions that were then reduced to three major areas of focus for each category as we continue to develop our program.


Which lessons have you learned so far?

It was very powerful to have our entire group at such a stimulating event. We had many opportunities to interact with each other, build on what we heard, and engage thought leaders with differing points of view. The conference provided us with a great opportunity to assess our program, consider new elements and chart a course as we continue our Connected Innovation journey.


Conclusion

I am impressed. Such an initiative can anchor open innovation in your company as it provides a great opportunity to build a common language based on what the team learned at the conference. This can really help develop the next practices of open innovation at General Mills.

Can you talk your executives into this kind of commitment?


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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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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Is China an Innovative Society?

by Stefan Lindegaard

Is China an Innovative Society?I tapped into an interesting discussion on LinkedIn. Chris Gelken, who is host and co-producer of Today, a live news magazine, asked whether China is an innovative society.

Personally, I find the development of China to be both fascinating and a bit frightening seen from a Western perspective. Based on several visit, my take is that if China avoids too many financial bubbles, then the drive and ambition of the Chinese people to climb the value chain ladder will turn it into an innovation hotspot sooner than many think.

There are many great comments in the discussion and I have inserted snippets from a couple of them below. Check out the rest for yourself: Is China an Innovative Society? (requires group membership to China Networking Group)


Zhiyun Chen, Vice President at Pixelligent
I think as indivduals Chinese are very creative. It is result of strong natural selection by firece competetion in a closed society. The problem, though, is Chinese society still lacks mechnisms to channel the creativity of individuals into constructive innovations.

Edward Eng, Copywriter at Getchee
Rather than ask if China is innovate or not, people should focus on how China needs to improve its global marketing skills. The reason why many people think China isn't innovate is because no one knows what they are doing in China. People and businesses in China have great ideas and products but sometimes they just don't know how to effectively market them to the global consumer market. This is where China needs to strengthen its innovative juices.

John Walmsley, MD at Scot Lift Systems
They have the ideal situation for innovation as the Universities concentrate on designing and developing products which will meet a market need and not play around learning things which do not relate to Industry and Commerce. Where there is a gap is in Product design where they seem to lack the skills in making their products look modern and appealing. If they get that right then look out World.

Stephen DeKuyper, Managing Principal at CresaPartners
My experience tells me an overwhelming "no". Good at copying, good at driving costs down, but not innovative. I would be interested in seeing how many patents are applied for out of China. I guess it would be very low. I think with the size of the population, it will go up, but on a per capita basis, I think it will remain low. This does not equate to being smart or not. I just don't think there is an environment for innovation.

Bill Dodson, Principal at TrendsAsia
China excels at innovation, but not disruptive Innovation. "Small i" innovation is about patching and work-arounds. "Big I" Innovation is about changing the course of markets and even of societies. Chinese culture and history have always been supportive of "small i" innovation, due to the capricious nature of local government policies and decisions; and due to dramatic turns of events - revolts, revolutions, banditry, dynastic dissolution - that quickly destroy the fruits of labor. Hence, the tendency of so many constructions and creations in Chinese society to be just "good enough"; after all, who knows how long such works will be able to stand?


What do you think? Is China an innovative society?


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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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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Innovation Metrics of Leading Companies

by Stefan Lindegaard

Innovation Metrics of Leading CompaniesI have often shunned the idea of metrics for innovation as it has been very difficult finding companies being good at this.

However, I believe it is important to work this out in order to raise the innovation productivity and in this post I share some input from a couple of large corporations based on a discussion on LinkedIn last year.

The discussion was started by Jimm Feldborg, who is R&D Manager at Grundfos in China. Jimm pointed out that a good start is to understand whether your indicator is a:

  • Lag indicator. The results are lagged with weeks, months or years and cannot be changed. Some examples are rewards and the number of patents.

  • Current indicator. The results happen right now giving you some possibilities to act and change and thus affect the future results. Some examples are the number of ideas generated and ongoing projects.

  • Lead indicator. The results are predictive for the future. You can make radical change in your approach and thus affect the results. Examples are pretty hard to give here.

Jeff Murphy, an Executive Director at Johnson & Johnson, suggests that innovation metrics (and metrics for any deployment like this) need to be dynamic by design. He continues:

  1. Initially, metrics should focus on engagement, training and participation of individuals.

  2. Then, as you begin to build a critical mass of capable individuals, the focus of your metrics shifts to your innovation pipeline (active projects by stage, flow of projects through concept, development, launch or kill...) and early wins. This is in addition to item 1 metrics above.

  3. Finally, as your organization's initiative begins to mature, your focus shifts to the end goals - return on investment, successful new products or services launched, revenue from new launches, etc. as well as optimizing your development and commercialization process. This is in addition to the item 2 metrics above.

If an organization gets ahead of itself in the metrics area, it can lead to unrealistic expectations during the early stages. On the other hand, if it gets behind on implementing the appropriate metrics and delays getting to #3, it leads to under-performance, and activity without business results.

Jeff emphazises that the key is to match your selected metrics with your deployment lifecycle. He also states that there are literally hundreds of metrics that you can choose from, but optimally, 8-15 metrics at any one time for an organization will be enough for senior management and/or the effective management of the innovation deployment. If any more granularity is needed, that should be done at the functional level.


Lessons from Intel

Personally, I keep getting back to a visit at Intel a few years back. It was interesting to get an inside view of this Silicon Valley giant, but it was also strange to sense how it was driven by control rather than creativity. I did miss a more creative sense, but I take my hats off for their ability to measure their innovation initiatives in which they track the following information.
  • Number of innovation-related rewards and recognitions

  • Numbers from various feedback mechanisms, showing employee acceptance and understanding of the initiative

  • Results from the innovation self assessment capability maturity framework (survey measuring five levels of maturity related to innovation behavior)

  • Percentage of our budget dedicated to innovation, research, and exploration of emerging technologies

  • Shareholder value created from innovation activities. (Shareholder Value = IT Efficiencies + Business Value provided to the IT customers)

  • Number of ideas generated in specific innovation harvesting campaigns

  • Number of ideas harvested from the campaigns and turned into implementable projects

  • Number of invention disclosure filings (IDFs)

  • Number of Intel patent submissions

  • Number of white papers published.

You can read further in this paper, Developing Systemic Innovation in an IT Organization, that provides an overview of how Intel works to foster and encourage innovation through its IT organization.

Paul Chaudury, VP of Innovation at Sara Lee, mentions that he has successfully followed the below KPI creation and reporting process at his prior job:
  1. Net sales from new products. Reported monthly.
    % of net sales from new products at year 1 and the next three years

  2. Projected value of the pipeline. Reported quarterly.
    Risk adjusted year 2 sales value of all ideas and projects in pipeline.
    Different probability rates for each phase in stage gate.

  3. Average time to market from concept to launch date. Reported monthly.
    # of weeks from exit of concept phase to launch date

  4. Aggregate portfolio net present value. Reported quarterly.
    Risk adjusted NPV of cash flow of all projects in pipeline from feasibility to launch phase in stage gate process.

Paul mentions that most of the calculations were automated and that reporting was done to senior management. KPIs were part of the key annual objectives and performance review for all involved with innovation. After a year from implementation, the process was continuously improved to fit the needs and it became a part of the company culture.

I also scratched the topic in a recent blog post, Increasing Innovation Productivity in which you can also find a few metrics used by P&G.

Francois Couture also started a new discussion related to this in my Leadership+Innovation group on LinkedIn.

Your input is highly appreciated.


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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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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Increasing Innovation Productivity

by Stefan Lindegaard

Increasing Innovation ProductivityIn a 2006 article, P&G's New Innovation Model, P&G stated that their open innovation program - along with improvements in other aspects of innovation related to product cost, design, and marketing - made their R&D productivity increase by nearly 60 percent since 2001.

When I listen to P&G talks on innovation today, the innovation productivity has nearly doubled and open innovation is a key reason for this.

Every company would like to increase their innovation productivity significantly so I am looking into how companies can do this. I am still researching and it would be great to have a discussion here on my blog. A few conversation starters:


What does innovation productivity mean?

In this video, P&G gives us some insight on innovation productivity including this quote from A.G Lafley: "...the other obvious way we measure innovation productivity is how much innovation do we generate per person and how much innovation do we generate per dollar invested in innovation." You can read a transcript at the link.

Which other metrics can we use to track innovation productivity?


Maximizing Innovation Productivity

In this article, PRTM focuses on four areas of opportunity that offer high potential for productivity and innovation leverage but are often overlooked or underutilized by development organizations: platforms and architectures, resource management, information automation, and cross-functional teams.

To which extent does your company apply this? Does it deliver results? What else do you do?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and input on this.


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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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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

10 Signs That Innovation Will Fail

by Stefan Lindegaard

10 Signs That Innovation Will FailWhat are the signs that innovation in a company is set up to fail? It would be great to have a checklist, but unfortunately innovation is too complicated and company-specific to employ a standard checklist for this.

However, we can share our insights on this and help each other become better at spotting the signs of failure.

Thus I have listed (in a non-prioritized order) the red flags I look for when I talk with executives and innovation leaders trying to get an understanding of their corporate innovation capabilities. What do you think and what can you add?

  1. The lack of an innovation strategy. Executives and innovation leaders have failed to link innovation with the overall corporate strategy. As a result, the innovation efforts have no clear directions and there is not a proper mix of incremental, breakthrough and radical innovation. No strategy, no focused effort, no results.

  2. No definition of innovation. Innovation means different things to different people. Every company should develop their own definition that fits their situation and use this definition to build a common language for their innovation initiatives.

  3. Too much focus on internal capabilities. The future of innovation is open and global. Who will get this first? You - or your competitors?

  4. Too much focus on open innovation. This is not the Holy Grail. You need to go open, but keep a strong focus on your internal resources. A key to innovation success is the ability to combine internal and external resources and act on the opportunities that arise from this.

  5. Internal silos are not broken down. If you cannot make innovation happen across your own business units and functions you cannot expect to succeed with external partners.

  6. Too much focus on ideas and too little focus on people. People and processes matter more than ideas. Yet, too few companies establish programs in which they can identify and develop the right people and match these people with the right ideas at the right time.

  7. Executives do not understand that a strong innovation culture equals a strong networking culture. Although executives might acknowledge the value of relationships, they often leave this in the woods saying that people can figure this out by themselves. Not true. Executives need to establish networking strategies and employees need training that fits these strategies just as well as the time to build and nurture relationships.

  8. Innovation efforts focus on technology or products. Most companies do not work with innovation models such as the Ten Types of Innovation which helps the employees and external partners view innovation in a more holistic way. Remember that innovation is also about services and processes.

  9. The usual suspects play the game. Innovation champions and other elite units can work, but the setup of such units often also sends the signal that these guys will take care of it. Other employees might think they do not need to get involved. Everyone should not work with innovation at the same time, but programs or platforms that give everyone opportunities to work with innovation should be in place.

  10. Executives and innovation leaders underestimate the speed of change. One example is open innovation. A key objective here is to become the preferred partner of choice. This will happen fast and yet many companies are not even getting ready to claim their position.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas on this.


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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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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pay Attention When Sony and Japan Embrace Open Innovation

by Stefan Lindegaard

Pay Attention When Sony and Japan Embrace Open InnovationThe "not invented here" culture is a problem at Sony. James Surowiecki addressed this in a 2005 article in which he stated that the Betamax video tape recorder failed in part because the company refused to cooperate with other companies.

Sony was also late in making flat-screen TVs and DVD recorders, because its engineers believed that, even though customers loved these devices, the available technologies were not up to Sony's standards.

And Sony's digital music players didn't play MP3s, which is a big reason that the iPod became the Walkman's true successor. Again and again, Sony's desire to control everything kept it from controlling anything according to Surowiecki.

Over the years, Sony CEO Howard Stringer has been working hard to crack this staunch "not invented here" culture. As the company bets big on a 3-D revival, it seems as if they starting to get it.

In a Wall Street Journal article, Stringer says that getting to market quickly takes priority over making everything in house. This led to Sony reaching a licensing deal with an outside supplier for an essential component of 3-D televisions. Things are definitely changing at Sony.

Things are also changing for Daiichi Sankyo, one of Japan's largest pharmaceutical groups. In a Financial Times interview, CEO Takashi Shoda talks about how a growing influence of western practices and the broader need for greater openness in order to innovate impacts his company.

"The era of trying to do everything in-house is gone," he says. "Innovation means open innovation: partnership, networking, relationship with academics. There used to be an NIH - not invented here - syndrome. If a drug project did not begin in-house, we were not interested. That is changing now. Management is constantly encouraging outsiders," Shoda says.

What is the message here? The future of innovation is open and global. Companies need to get this or they will lose out. And when even very tradition-driven, Japanese companies get it, everyone needs to pay attention.



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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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Saving Curiosity from the Guillotine

by Stefan Lindegaard

Saving Curiosity from the GuillotineThis great topic was raised by Arthur Lok in a discussion in the Innovation Management group on LinkedIn. It made me wonder and reflect on my own level of curiosity, what this term means to me and how it effects innovation.

I think we lose our sense of curiosity as we begin to build a power base that we feel we need to protect. We have something to lose and then we begin to focus on how to protect this rather than expand and build further on what we have.

So are we just defensively minded? Such a mindset definitely make incumbents more vulnerable to new innovation brought to market by companies and entrepreneurs having nothing to loose.

I think this goes for products, services and thus corporate revenues as well as the knowledge base we build as individuals. If what we know today provides a good living perhaps we are not that open to challenge this and develop new points of view. Unfortunately, this does not work in times where just standing still is the same as getting behind - at a very fast pace.

It is fairly easy to point out what kills curiosity. I gave an example above and you can find others in the LinkedIn discussion. The more interesting question is what we can do to avoid killing our curiosity. I hope we can start a discussion on this here. Let me start off with one of my suggestions;

Try out new technologies. It took me years to get the value of cell phone texting and I am still not that good at it. In retrospect, I see this as a sign of me getting older and losing my curiosity. This lesson taught me to be open towards new technologies and not write them off as fast as I might have done.

Twitter is good example. I was initially annoyed but I stayed in there and today it gives me much value. TweetDeck is a great source of new insights - just use the search function.

What do you do to stay curious?

Editor's note: Check out our Continuous Innovation group for more interesting innovation discussions



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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Friday, January 01, 2010

Open Innovation Bullies

by Stefan Lindegaard

Open Innovation BulliesLarge companies have always used their size and power to get things their way. This is no different with open innovation. So I am not surprised when I listen to people from smaller companies complain about the behaviours of large companies when they start working together.

Such behaviours were confirmed by several large companies at the recent Open Innovation Summit. They shared stories on how they had used their size and corporate power to get deals that favoured themselves and they even admitted that some deals could be so lop-sided that they could discourage other smaller companies from working with them.

This made me wonder whether it is just human nature to be a bully and use the power at hand. I reached the conclusion this is often the case and in terms of open innovation this is just what smaller companies should expect when they engage with large companies.

This is not to say that I approve of such behaviour. I prefer an ideal world in which all companies get along and share the pie in a fair and nice manner. But the problem is that we do not live in an ideal world. So what should smaller companies do about this?

I do not think they can do much to change the behaviours of the large companies. But they can prepare better. They should expect a bully-like behaviour and prepare for this rather than cross their fingers and hope for the opposite. They need to analyze the level of resources needed to work with the larger company and they need to weigh the pros and cons on potential deals. Some deals might not be worth the trouble.

At least some larger companies are aware of this situation. They understand how important it is to be perceived as the preferred partner within their industry. This was illustrated by the fact that some of the companies that admitted to loop-sided deals at the recent summit work to rectify those.

No Room for Bullies in Open InnovationAt the summit, a representative from a large company also shared that increasing the leadership position that comes with the perception of being the "preferred partner of choice" is an area of improvement to them.

On this, he mentioned that the company recently commissioned a third party to conduct a blind survey in which they asked a range of potential partner companies that had not yet worked with the given company whether they would like to do so. A large majority replied positively. Later in the same survey they asked companies that had already worked with the given company by revealing their name. Would they like to work with them again in the future? Although still in the high end, the reply here was lower than the first one.

This gives reasons to worry. Hopefully, it seems as if this company is up for the challenge as they show a willingness to confront and rectify this. This is most likely not the case at many other large companies, but let's hope for the best - and tell smaller companies to prepare well...



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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