Innovating your innovation

Most of the corporates and organisations today are aware that innovation is about access and collaboration, not ownership. There is a clear business case for recycling the abundance of technologies and outcomes of user and market experiments from adjacent industries. In the hyped start-up scene, everybody is looking to emulate asset light companies like Uber and Airbnb, who are leveraging the under-utilised assets of others. But even though Open Innovation (OI) is the new normal, few organisations have implemented an OI curriculum to cater for this new innovation contact sport. They have not answered for themselves what the required skill sets are to be successful innovators in today’s world. Even fewer organisations have successfully adopted the OI mindsets that are required to successfully collaborate.

The complexity comes from the fact that OI is about innovating your innovation. If you repeat ‘innovating your innovation’ for yourself try to consider the consequence of this insight. On top of innovating you are innovating the way you innovate. No wonder it is so challenging!
In the past decade of OI we saw many organisations struggle their way through OI programs. Typically, a company would select a not-so-important innovation project that would now be done in the OI fashion. As OI was at the top of the hype cycle, many company leaders created unrealistic expectations for their teams regarding the outcomes. So instead of seeing those first experiments as learning exercises, these first OI enabled projects would be expected to deliver insane returns on investment. And it was no surprise that many companies mistook a learning experience for failure in OI.

So what is missing?

We observed that most organisations went through individual and single learning loops. Little was done to develop good practices, standard processes or development of a curriculum for Open Innovation (OI). We believe that much of the leadership in current corporates and organisations managed to avoid exposure to formal innovation management training all together.

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As a consequence of the individual learning and experience process, there was limited capture and transfer of OI knowledge between organisations. One of the other elements missing was a neutral ground and good practice exchange platform not driven by a project business model. That is why as a spin-off from the Holst Centre we created the Open Innovation Academy on the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven.

What is the Open Innovation Academy?

The academy is a growth platform and neutral ground for partner organisations and individuals who want to learn about and implement Open Innovation (OI). Part of the assignment for the academy is to do research into good practices and develops insights into the underlying principles and systems enabling double loop learning. In other words, not the symptoms as in the typical business case storytelling fashion but the real insight into the capabilities, processes, systems and collaboration dynamics that make up a successful OI enabled outcome. The academy will develop standards, of course in a collaborative fashion, for OI good practices. The academy provides a safe exchange platform for organisations to capture and continuously learn from OI experiences whilst benefitting from insights and lessons learnt by other organisations in OI.
Teaching is achieved through creation of OI experiences. One of the models already successfully used is the Open Innovation Game that originally was developed within the Holst Centre to let SME’s experience OI in a safe serious game setting. The OI Game is now also used to by multinationals and to validate actual collaborations. See our game video below:

A first perspectief on the OI Curriculum

As a first step we came up with a left brain versus right brain thinking around the curriculum:

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For the purpose of starting up the debate in the community, one of our researchers is reaching out to thought leaders in the innovation management space to further mature the Open Innovation curriculum. Please feel welcome to be part of this debate!

Written by Rick Wielens

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