Open Innovation fails
It’s sometimes said the best days to own a horse, a swimming pool and a boat are the day you buy them and the day you sell them. The bit in between can get expensive and time-consuming.
The same thing may be said of the Open Innovation department. PwC published a report once that said “R&D is often seen as a black box, where large sums of money go in and innovative products and services only sometimes come out.” Sounds a bit like “a boat is a hole in the water where I put my money.”
Sub R&D for Open Innovation and the same may be true. OI often fails for all the wrong reasons and despite all the best intentions. Mostly it’s because the company is too successful, but not at disruption.
Logically this makes sense. A company with success knows what it does well. It builds itself a system that feeds its own machine. The business gets really good at making money, efficiently, and keeps doing it until demand for the product diminishes. Open Innovation stands in front of that tanker at its peril.
Even when the last ideation session came up with the absolute best disruptive, innovative, creative thing ever, in the corporate environment it isn’t going to get very far. And it’s not because the teams are not interested or able. It’s simply because no-one really knows why it’s worth the effort.
Enter ‘Strategy’. Or more precisely the Strategic Endpoint.
Without a reason, change just can’t happen. But give someone a target and they’ll go at it. They may miss or they may overshoot but everything they do will be aimed at a single point in the future and that most often is what companies don’t have: an endpoint to aim at. Or rather, they do but the targets are usually performance-based and not strategic.
Open Innovation is brilliant as a concept but it isn’t always correctly interpreted to mean: let’s all go and see what’s out there. Let’s go on social media and ask all those bright kids in IndieBusiness land what they’re doing that we could grab at early. And when the ideas flood in, the question still needs to be answered – why? Why this? For who? When?
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