I like stories, analogies and metaphors on open innovation as they can help better communicate the benefits as well as the challenges of open innovation. Here you get some of my favorites. Let me know what you think and please add your own. It would be great to have a collection of this.
Open innovation is like dating: While he was the head of Connect+Develop at P&G, Chris Thoen, said that open innovation is very much like dating. You need to look good so that you can become the preferred partner of choice among your suitors.
Playgrounds and sandboxes: I often liken open innovation – and even more relevant today the use of social media for innovation efforts – to a playground or sandbox. You can build a playground or sandbox, but you will quickly get bored if you don’t have any playmates. The same goes with open innovation portals, crowdsourcing initiatives and communities. You need good company for this to succeed.
Finding the hole versus getting on the green: At a recent talk, one of the participants said their company was similar to a new golfer who did not even know the hole was on the green. They spend too much time trying to find the hole, which of course is quite difficult on a big golf course. Perhaps the golfer should have studied the game a bit more so that he knew the hole would be on the green.
In open innovation, you need to know what you are looking for, but you also need to be careful. If you look too hard for a specific solution to a given problem, you might not find anything at all. You need an open mind, build up a range of potential solutions and then decide what works best.
The real work happens behind the scenes: When you watch a movie, you might forget all the work that it took for you to enjoy it. It is the same with portals, crowdsourcing and communities. It is not really that difficult to set up a public platform and solicit lots of ideas. The real work starts when you have to turn these ideas into real projects.