Conference presentations reveal benefits and challenges of “Open Innovation”

John Schober, Director of Innovation, MAGNET

John Schober, Director of Innovation, MAGNET

Last week, I attended the CoDev 2012 Conference in San Diego–which had as its focus the topics of Co-Development and Open Innovation. This was the eleventh annual such gathering, sponsored by The Management Roundtable and the Product Development Management Association. The conference’s tagline is: “Achieving Higher Open Innovation Returns While Managing Risk, Cost & Uncertainty.”

Open innovation is the practice of looking outside your organization for expertise and/or ideas that can help you pursue new products or new business models.

I expected to hear about a long history of success stories from many of the companies presenting case studies which included large firms such as Corning, Avery Dennison, and Kraft Foods.

What I actually heard was that a disciplined, systemic approach to open innovation that has full backing of the organization is more of an aspiration than a reality right now, as these firms are still working on how to make it work for them.

It should not surprise me that these firms don’t quite have it right because open innovation is difficult, even for large firms.  Getting your organization to make innovation a key element of your business strategy is difficult enough in its own right, and figuring out how to systemically involve others from outside your organization only adds another level of complexity.

The principles of open innovation are definitely worth incorporating into your growth strategies, notwithstanding the challenges described above.

You don’t have to have a formal open innovation program to benefit from outside expertise and exposure to alternate ways of thinking. These benefits include potential new pathways to growth and in many cases a lower total cost of your innovation initiative.

Send me an email if you’d like to learn more about open innovation, as I can share with you some of the presentations from the CoDev 2012 conference.

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