A while back, I met with Jan Bosch, a former VP of Open Innovation at Intuit. As you might already know, I am a big fan of their work on Intuit Collaboratory and especially on how they combine virtual and real life activities.
During our talk, Jan and I discussed a situation that I have seen at several companies. The situation was about how a company goes from being an “archer” in which you aim and shoot for relevant contacts to being a “magnet” in which relevant contacts come to your company.
This is an important issue for companies that are ready to move to the next level of open innovation after having started and implemented a platform. At least, two things are important on this.
First, companies need to understand that the even though the goal is to attract quality contributors to their platform, it might take quantity efforts to reach this goal. Companies are most often in a situation in which they must let their marketing and communication efforts focus on spreading the word and getting a buzz going in many different directions. You need to aim for more people than you initially thought you had to.
Why? We are often stuck in our own mindset and thus we already know whom we need to get in touch with. This is potentially dangerous as it can limit the reach of open innovation initiatives and hinder engagement with potential stakeholders that we never thought would be able to contribute to the initiative. Remember that diversity is a key reason for engaging in open innovation.
Check this blog post, Open Innovation Case: The Consequences of Hacking Microsoft Kinect to get an idea – although not directly related – of what I am talking about.
The other thing that I would like to point out here is that it is so much easier to create a positive buzz on initiatives if they are solid and ready. Yes, this should be basic stuff, but I am amazed on how some companies try to promote initiatives that are simply not good enough. Don’t make that mistake.