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Open Innovation: Needs versus Opportunities

November 7, 2012 15inno 3 Comments

Too often, open innovation initiatives at big companies focus on needs – and needs only. You have a specific challenge to solve, you write up rfp’s and you reach out in your network.

Solving problems is an important element of open innovation and it can bring lots of value. However, if you only focus on needs, you miss out on the big potential that comes with also being open to unexpected opportunities.

How innovation happens is changing and there are at least two important things on this. One is that innovation happens in ecosystems where the combination of different resources can result in unexpected opportunites – if you reach out for this and are prepared to deal with it.

The other thing is that innovation is becoming more and more about business models rather than being just about the product, service or technology. You need to have a more holistic approach and think in terms of a bigger picture. You simply need to be open to unexpected opportunities in order to out-innovate your competitors whether they are other big companies or smaller companies backed by venture capitalists.

So to my dear friends at corporate innovation teams, go beyond rfp’s and needs and open up your eyes and as well as your processes for unexpected opportunities.

Just a reminder to all of us : – )

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Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Peter says:

    You put it so well – and hit a topic that I am currently looking into.

    In my experience it is about ensuring that organisations have a declared strategy for how to gain most value from Open Innovation efforts. Committing to the activities needed for the longer term opportunities (i.e. having relational interactions in an ecosystem rather than limiting the interaction to short term transactions) will not be prioritised unless the organisation has agreed to the value. Add external (shareholders) pressure to deliver short term value on top of this and you are bound to limit your open innovation activities to transactions solving immediate needs.

    So really, it is about aligning the organisation towards being an active part of an ecosystem. This requires considerations of structures, processes, KPIs, incentives, resourcing, employee capabilities etc.

    It is a major decision and implementation is not easy, but I too am a believer that great value awaits those who chose this path.

  2. juhajlehtonen says:

    I couldn't agree more. However, I would not limit this only to open innovation. There is a room for similar thinking in the innovation actions within the corporate also.

    One thing I would keep in mind here is the maturity of innovation activities within the company to ensure the right balance with needs vs. opportunities approach. I am referring here to a company which is starting their innovation function. It might be easier to get acceptance form all levels of the company when the weightning is more on the need based approach at the beginning.

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