Innovation with Enemies: A Source for Great Outcomes?

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I have just given a talk at the ARPEL conference for the oil and gas industry and you might have noticed some of my previous blog posts related to the oil and gas industry.

Here I got an interesting comment suggesting that the oil and gas industry should also work together with NGOs like Greenpeace in order to find solutions that reduce the negative impact of their business on the environment.

Hemma Bieser mentioned this as she rightfully so pointed out a big challenge for this industry: finding new products and business models and doing less harm to the environment at the same time.

First of all, the oil and gas industry first need to get started with open innovation. They are definitely lagging behind and they need to work on their mindset as a majority of the people in this industry seem to believe that as long as they invest enough in their own internal innovation (primarily R&D) activities, then this is just fine. Remember what Bill Joy said: “Not all the smart people work for you.” Not at all…

With regards to inviting in NGO’s which in some ways can be viewed as enemies of the oil and gas industry, this might be a bit controversial at first, but over time I think there is lots of value in doing so.

The reason is that the best kind of innovation often occurs when two opposing sides truly listen to each others. This goes for all kinds of industries.

As a closing remark, I can mention that during a workshop at ARPEL in which I asked the participants to name potential value pools to tap into for their innovation efforts, NGO’s actually made the top 5 list.

On a personal level, I take this as a good sign, because we need to remember that as heavy consumers of energy we are all responsible (in some degreee) for the mess that the oil and gas industry sometimes creates. Everyone needs to work together in order to limit or work around the environmental and societal damages that can occur. Hopefully, the oil and gas industry will also move in this direction and open up their innovation efforts.

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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