Pia Erkinheimo was the head of Crowdsourcing in the CTO Office at Nokia. In this interview she discusses Nokia’s ideation community, Ideas Project, which she ran until her recent departure from Nokia.
I believe the concept she talks about, the Rise of Amateurship, is a very important one to understand when moving into open innovation and social media.
Lindegaard: Can you give us a quick introduction to the Ideas Project?
Erkinheimo: Ideas Project is a community of more than 21,000 ideators, from more than 200 countries and autonomous regions who are interested in mobile Internet-related ideas. It’s based on open innovation and idea crowdsourcing principles, and it enables the two-way exchange of ideas between users and developers around innovation powered by Nokia. You can learn about it at www.ideasproject.com.
Lindegaard: When I attended one of your talks, you brought up an interesting term: the rise of amateurship. What do you mean by this?
Erkinheimo: I mean that we should value the expertise people are gaining with things they are interested in. From the value creation perspective in the Knowledge Era and how knowledge workers are being lead and motivated, I could ask a question: Who creates more value – a bored professional or an enthusiastic amateur?
Lindegaard: How will social media influence this rise of amateurs?
Erkinheimo: Social media helps amateurs to participate in activities where they can practice their hobby – and share their passion and showcase expertise. When you are interested in something, you think of it, study it and wish to locate and get contacted with like-minded people. That makes practicing amateurship more fulfilling. The usage of people’s time gets blurred – what is work, what is leisure time, what is hobby-time? You can participate in all of these activities via social media.
Lindegaard: Besides the Ideas Project, does Nokia have other platforms to bring in ideas from the ecosystem?
Erkinheimo: Yes, there is a co-patenting platform at (http://inventwithnokia.nokia.com), where people can submit their invention and Nokia can consider whether it wants to apply for a patent for it and give financial consideration to the person submitting the idea. There is also Nokia Beta Labs at, which brings together developers and consumers for trials of applications, software, or services currently being developed by teams in Nokia or by selected third-party developers.
Lindegaard: What challenges did Nokia encounter when they decided to embrace social media for innovation efforts? How did you work around them?
Erkinheimo: Getting commitment and understanding from the top management. Showing the business case and arguing for social media’s importance to colleagues/staff in using social media for different business purposes. The workarounds required persistence, intrapreneurship, having an “ask for forgiveness, not permission” attitude, and educating colleagues.
Lindegaard: What recommendations would you give other corporate innovation units looking into this intersection of social media and innovation?
Erkinheimo: Just do it! Tolerate the uncertainty that opening the company boundaries brings (it’s the paradigm shift) – and measure the change in behavior. Move to knowledge sharing, not knowledge keeping.
Lindegaard: How do you view the future of using social media to bring out better innovation faster?
Erkinheimo: We need to trust open innovation and be open to interaction with the whole ecosystem. It’s a bit like stage diving – you need to dare – and learn to trust that there is someone replying to your call.