Developing an Internal Culture that Promotes Open Innovation


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I attended the European Open Innovation and a presentation given by John Bell, Philips and Brigitte Laurent, Solvay focused on how you can develop an internal culture that promotes open innovation.

I think this is a big challenge and it prompted me to ponder on a couple of questions. I am sharing a few of my views as discussion starters, but it would be great hearing your take on these questions.

How long time does it take to change or improve an innovation culture?

Of course, this depends on the starting point (type and size of organization and current state of culture), but in general I think you need to count this in years rather than months.

A corporate culture is almost carved in stone during the early years of the company and it takes disruptive events to change it significantly. Thus, it is quite dangerous to be inspired by things like Google’s 20% in which employees can work on their own projects for 20% of the time. This worked at Google in the early years (not even sure it works anymore at Google), but it will be very difficult to implement this concept in a culture that is not used to this. The mindset and processes needed to support this are simply not in place.

Is there a single tool or approach that really makes a difference?

I believe you need a combination of tools and approaches to make this happen, but some matters more than others. We often hear that nothing happens without executive support, but are there other elements that can make a real difference?

Getting back to Birgitte and John’s presentation, I liked this slide on open innovation enablers and obstacles.

At the end of the presentation, they shared these takeaways on developing the internal culture:

• Learning through experimenting by looking for solutions and connect to the right parties

• Promoting collaborations by embracing all types of collaboration internally and externally and collaborate more effectively to up alliances and partnerships

• Managing risks by ensuring a trade off between risks and control

• Open innovation is a means, not an end in itself, and it will not go away anymore

• Stimulating an open innovation culture makes no sense unless…strategy, organisation, process, leadership and culture on open innovation are aligned

• Culture is not by nature open to open innovation, but should be to benefit from open innovation

• Changing the open innovation culture = aspiration x transpiration x perseverance

You might also be interested in these two articles: P&G’s Innovation Culture and Thoughts on Google’s 20% Time

Developing a corporate culture is a big, but also interesting challenge. What can you add on this?

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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