As a project manager, I have found that it is hard to fully grasp what innovation truly is. Innovation is such a big word. Not having a true understanding of how I could contribute, I took a deeper dive into what can drive innovation within a company. Moreover, I stumbled upon the fascinating idea of open innovation.
What is open innovation?
You might be asking yourself, what is open innovation and is there such a thing as closed innovation? The answer is, yes! Let us begin with closed innovation because it is fairly simple. Closed innovation means the same things across companies. It is strictly internal innovation done within the walls of the company. Open innovation, on the other hand, has many variations of the definition. At the heart of it, there is a common understanding that includes inviting in external ideas through shared knowledge and experience.
Open innovation is about channeling your mindset to be accepting. Accepting that to innovate you must share information, but also be open to receive information from others. No company, no matter how big or small will be as successful as they can be relying solely on the innovation found within their walls. Furthermore, there is never only one person with all the answers on innovation. The days of research and development are antiquated due to the time it takes to complete an idea in the fast world we live in. Therefore, preparing your organization for open innovation allows for quick ideation and implementation.
External ideas can be gathered in a variety of ways. Some companies choose to practice open innovation by including a portal on their website. Alternatively, others host an open forum for people to share their ideas on site, which is an easier way to interpret the vision for innovation.
Why choose open innovation?
- Create new products and services.
- Reinvent an old product or service. Your old products and services have the potential to attract customers. With some creativity and time, you can improve an old idea and make it fresh!
- Build a strong community. Get in touch with your “fans”. This may seem silly especially for smaller companies. Yet, there are so many people out there with varied interests looking for companies to champion. CIL shows insights through blog posts, social media, and our Ask An Innovator podcast. It is way more fun to explore innovation together.
- Keep employees engaged. I resonate with this idea. Lack of ownership in projects is a huge source of employee dissatisfaction. By introducing an open innovation initiative to your company, your team can get involved in the “big picture”. When employees feel more invested in their work, they pour their hearts into your company which reverberates internally and externally.
- Stay ahead of the competition. Opening your doors to your consumer or to external sources allows you to stay engaged and connected. You remain relevant in your community and you can easily find the niche that makes you uniquely valuable.
- Efficiency. Sharing ideas with an external company allows each member to focus on the area where they are best. This can cut costs and time as well allowing you to implement your product, feature, vision, etc. much sooner.
- New revenue streams. Working with other companies that have an innovation team or department will open more doors. This enables you to connect with companies looking for more direction or an outside visionary.
Open Innovation FTW?
While open innovation is often found to be simplistic, it is quite exciting to know the possibilities it can provide to you or your company. It is a process that never ends and is an avenue to learn novel ways to make your company better!