Should Coca-Cola Shut Up About Open Innovation?


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There has been a lot of buzz on Coca-Cola and their new focus on open innovation as illustrated in this interesting article, Coca-Cola on Thinking Like a Start-Up, Open Innovation and Avoiding Kodak Moments

Not so long ago, I ended a blog post mentioning Coca-Cola on a positive note lauding that they now publicly buys into open innovation. This could be seen as yet another sign that open innovation is here to stay. However, I have begun to wonder whether Coca-Cola is doing the right thing.

It is no secret that Coca-Cola has been very closed in their innovation efforts so far. They have several activities in which they try to connect consumers and ideas, but these initiatives just seem to re-enforce my view that crowdsourcing in general has been hi-jacked by marketing departments. There is not much real innovation going on here.

It also seems as if Coca-Cola has put their executives on a mission to tell the world that they are ready to open up their innovation efforts. More and more articles are popping up.

I just wonder if this is too early. I had a great chat with a high-level innovation leader from a multinational company last week. He had decided that they should not talk too much in public about their efforts until he feels that they are all ready to go. They want to have not only the processes in place, but also solid successes that can convince the remaining skeptics that this is the way forward. I know some of the efforts by this company and in my view they are ready to open up, but I get his arguments.

When it comes to Coca-Cola, it is the other way around. I wonder if they should stop mentioning their open innovation ambitions until they can offer more to potential partners and consumers. Right now, you get close to no information on how to work innovate with Coca-Cola as a partner when you visit the innovation section of their corporate site. This simply does not match their current public push and in my view, it does not help them much if their stakeholders – internally as well as externally – begin questioning their otherwise well-intended initiative in the same way that I have begun to do.

What do you think? Should Coca-Cola shut up about their open innovation efforts or should they keep promoting them? Yes, I am picking on Coca-Cola in this post, but this is also a broader discussion so please also let me know how this issue of putting up or shutting up relate to your company and industry.

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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