5 essential tips to implementing an open innovation approach in your organization

Open innovation is a successful way of increasing innovativeness and effectiveness of an organization, it has been shown to reduce cost and time to market. So why aren’t you benefiting from open innovation?

Open Innovation enables an organization to integrate external knowledge and ideas in order to co-create products or services, commercialise existing technologies or improve competencies in new markets.

I have more than 15 years of experience within open innovation, both in research and of implementing the most successful approaches in companies and I will share with you what I have learned over time:

Get clear about your objectives for open innovation

If you want to increase efficiency within your operation, then outsource part of your development to external partners and focus on your core competences. But if you want to increase innovation you should start engaging with customers, startups or partners from other industries.

Link those objectives with your corporate strategy

If you have a defender’s strategy; for example; being cost leader or niche market leader then you should invest in customer and supplier integration activities as they will support your corporate strategy.

However,  with a prospector’s strategy such as being a technology leader, you should invest in a wide range of different activities with partners such as research institutes, startups or cross-industry organisations (https://doi.org/10.1504/IJTM.2014.064590).

Balance open and closed activities according to your strategy and culture

If you are a defender, then invest up to 20% of your internal resources (money, people, attention etc.) towards open innovation activities. For a prospector’s strategy you should invest up to 80% for open innovation.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Both figures above assume that your culture is open enough to allow for external activities and integration of external knowledge without the  ‘not-invented-here syndrome’ where employees sabotage external knowledge.

Select the right people in your organization 

Not every employee is equally skilled and happy to engage with outside people, ideas and knowledge. Search for people that believe that open innovation is an approach that strengthens the expertise of their own team –  instead of competing with them.

If you want to know more about open innovation and its activities please look at the R&D Management Journal

Understanding a firm’s choice for openness: strategy as determinant

Post by Ellen Enkel, editor R&D Management Journal