A Game of Open Innovation: Who Wins?


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A key objective of open innovation is to become a preferred partner of choice within an innovation eco-system. Not everyone wins here, but the game has not yet been played out in full in most industries and thus we have a game of open innovation at hand.

The Prize:

Contrary to what many things, open innovation is a game where there are winners as well as losers – and some win more than others.

Most industries have 2-4 major competitors. These players cannot all become the preferred partner of choice and win the big prize; a first look at the best innovation opportunities. Some will lose and this will show in their market offerings in the coming years.

With regards to smaller companies, these often take the backseat in the innovation ecosystem unless they have a very unique offering. As such, there are many more winners here and not really that many losers, but the prize is not as big and important as with the big companies.

The Entry Stakes:

We currently have 3 generations of open innovation:

Generation 1: What is open innovation and why is this relevant to our company and industry? These questions are not yet answered to a high degree. I guesstimate that 70% of all companies are still in this phase.

Generation 2: The key question is no longer why, but how. Here companies already have an organizational structure in place although with lots of room for improvement and they have innovation partnerships with one or more value pools that deliver real benefits. About 25% is in this category.

Generation 3: Open innovation is being embraced deep into the organization and there is no longer a clear difference between innovation and open innovation; it is just innovation now although with a much higher external input than 5-10 years ago. My guesstimate = only 5% here.

This game of open innovation is only relevant for generation 2 and 3 companies. I urge generation 1 companies to get their act together fast as the train is moving fast now.

Suggested Actions:

I could write a long list here, but instead you only get two bullets:

• Build the foundation: You cannot build a strong reputation and a perception of being a preferred partner if you do not have the infrastructure in place to deliver on your innovation efforts.

• Build the perception: Once the foundation is in place, you must make others believe that your company has what it takes to be a “preferred partner of choice” within your industry.

Building the perception is to a high high degree based on stakeholder management and communication efforts (primarily externally focused) and I don’t think this is high enough on the priority list at most companies even though it is key for grabbing the top position. And hey, it is not even that difficult once you have the foundation in place (that is much more difficult).


I am developing a toolbox and a game-plan that helps get a better overview of where your company stands right now and how you should play this game. Hopefully, you can soon find my framework in a free public domain on this great website: Strategy Tools for the Next Generation

Most – if not all companies – can benefit from getting an assesment of their strengths, weaknesses and opportunities with regards to open innovation and they often need an external perspective in order to see the full picture.

Get in touch if want to discuss how this could happen in your company!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stefan Lindegaard
Stefan is an author, speaker, facilitator and consultant focusing on open innovation, social media tools and intrapreneurship.


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