I attended the Open for Business conference by NESTA in London yesterday. It was a great conference with a mix of panels, case studies and networking. My own active role was to facilitate a panel featuring Steve Shapiro, VP, InnoCentive and Helmut Traitler, VP – Innovation Partnerships, Nestlé. Great people!
The conference gave me some good reflections on open innovation that I would like to share with you.
Challenges and solutions. We need to focus more on challenges and solutions when we engage with open innovation. How can we better bridge internal and external resources to solve our challenges and solutions? This also highlights the important skill of being able to define what we are actually looking for. Both Shapiro and Traitler made good points on this.
Reach beyond the usual suspects. NESTA Chairman, John Chisholm urges us to reach beyond the usual suspects on innovation and he believes open innovation can help us do this. I think he is right. This is also an important driver for Helmut’s work at Nestlé. You can get an idea of his work in this interview by Bruce Nussbaum.
View open innovation as a parallel process. We are used to view innovation as an iterative process. With open innovation, it is becoming a “massively parallel process where failures and successes happen at the same time” as suggested by Alph Bingham in this blog post from Shapiro: Why Edison Was Wrong
Cheryl Perkins, the founder of Innovationedge – as always – had some comments worth considering. One is that we need to remember the intangibles when judging open innovation programs. Too often, we get caught up in the things we can measure and we forget that the intangibles can be just as important. I also agree with Cheryl’s view that successful companies focus on market driven rather than technology driven innovation.
I also spoke with a participant whom I know from his previous job. He is a great guy and very knowledgeable about open innovation. He said that in his leadership position in his new company they have developed open innovation processes and initiatives that work so well that he does not want to share them with others.
Since we still need to improve on open innovation in general, I really hope everyone will share great insights. This was unfortunately not the case here.
However, I fully understand his rationale which is also a great sign that open innovation is not only maturing, but also working. What better argument than gaining competitive advantages can we have for implementing open innovation?