The four pillars your organisation needs to harness open innovation

Innovation is a major buzzword in every organisation today. It is seen to be the essence of future-proofing your business, particularly as the pace of change continues to accelerate.

Whether you need to innovate to stay relevant to your audience, to create new products and services, or fight off the competition, the key is to create the right foundations and environment for creativity. And today, many businesses are turning to open innovation to drive their future strategy.

What is open innovation?

Henry Chesbrough, who coined the term in 2003, defined Open Innovation as “the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively.” In simple terms, it is about opening the doors of your organisation to grow and learn from the external world.

There are four core pillars that every organisation needs if they are to successfully embrace open innovation.

1. Self awareness

    Self awareness is as important for an organisation as it is for an individual. As a company you need to be truthful and clear about your culture and your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to innovation. Is there a rigid hierarchy, for example, which can block new ideas and directions? By identifying what’s good and what could be better, you can create appropriate solutions.

    2. Market insight

      Equally important is the need to look outside your business and understand the competitive landscape. Keep a close eye on others in your field and what they are doing to evolve and meet changing customer needs.

      You must also stay abreast of technological developments and how new digital solutions can change how you work for the better or present potential new revenue streams.

      3. Building skills

        To capitalise on open innovation you need to be able to contribute to the conversation and move things on. That requires strong in-house expertise – so it’s vital to invest in attracting and developing proven innovators and people with the right digital skills and experience, not necessarily from the same industry.

        Within this, it is essential for your people to be able to concisely sum up what you are aiming to achieve in a clear and comprehensive brief. You may also find that other specialist skills are required too – whether it’s legal expertise to identify and protect Intellectual Property, or compliance insight to ensure that new innovations meet regulatory requirements.

        4. Effective collaboration

          Open Innovation by its very nature involves many stakeholders working together. In reaching workable solutions, effective communication is critical. Innovation teams must therefore be able to convey ideas clearly and identify the right people to involve at the right stages of a projects.

          Often, written skills are key too, in drafting engaging and thorough proposals and business plans. Meanwhile, should issues arise, skilled negotiators can be an asset in defusing tensions and finding the right outcomes.

          Pulling together all these elements takes time, and it may be months or even years until you have established all four pillars. But that doesn’t mean your open innovation approach has to wait. WIL Group are increasingly asked to help provide the right executive interim specialists to get open innovation projects off the ground.

          By seeking interim expertise you can kick-start innovation fast, taking advantage of proven experience in the field. For more information on how we can help you adopt Open Innovation in your organisation, contact your local WIL Group member.

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