I recently had a discussion with a senior innovation leader in a mid-size high-tech company. The guy turned out to be pretty skeptical on open innovation and although I agree that open innovation to some extent is hype, I was still somewhat ticked off by his mindset.
Personally, I do not have much reason to care about this. Business is picking up again and there is a growing demand for insights on open innovation. However, people without an open mind simply should not have senior innovation roles. An internal focused mind-set might have worked in the past, but leaders today need to be able to build a bridge between internal and external resources. This goes for all industries – from consumer goods companies to high-tech companies – and if you think this only applies to low-tech companies, you are in for a surprise.
One argument from the innovation leader was that “Yes R&D people might be more skeptical than the rest of the population, but we really need “proof of concept” before we raise our hands in naivety! That’s how you convince a scientist!”
This is fair enough and it might be OK with scientists, but it is definitely not OK with senior leaders. Leaders – in R&D and elsewhere – need to be able to detect shifts not only on technologies, but also on the processes of R&D and innovation. Not having an open mind on new ways of doing things is outright dangerous in the fast-paced business environment we all are a part of today.
Get into the new game or move out of your leadership positions – for the sake of your companies…