Last week, I attended an open innovation session led by General Mills. Among the distributed materials, I found nine tips for open innovation by Peter Erickson, their Sr. VP of Innovation, Technology and Quality.
The tips are based on General Mills’ successful collaborations with external innovators. I like them and since I believe they are universal, I want to share them with the open innovation community. Here they are:
• Create a differentiated opportunity. Be prepared to articulate how your product, idea or technology is unique and better than anything on the market.
• Test your innovation. You’ll be able to speak to market interest and consumer or retailer reaction if you’ve previously placed your innovation before these audiences.
• Be selective. Avoid courting multiple corporate partners. Companies want to know you are as dedicated to them as they are to you.
• Find a contact to be your champion. Within a large company it’s essential to have a “tour guide” which is why all of General Mills’ external partners are matched with specific employees.
• Do your homework. Educate yourself on your partner’s key business line, strategies, industry and competitors.
• Connect the dots. Make the connection between your innovation and the company’s business model and brand.
• Demonstrate you can deliver. Describe your team’s experience, your innovation’s scalability and any validation needs (e.g. health claims).
• Have a business model in mind. Communicate your desired opportunity but stay flexible.
• Part on good terms. If a company opts to pass on an opportunity, leave the door open to future collaboration.