Should You Go for Best Potential or Least Resistance? – An Open Innovation Dilemma

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You should of course pick the projects and value pools (i.e. suppliers, entrepreneurs or universities) with the best potential, when you start out with the open innovation efforts in your company. Right?

Well, not always. At a recent conference for the oil and gas industry, which is a slow mover on open innovation, I was asked the question where a company should start with their efforts.

At first, I was inclined to give the response I started this post with – go where the best potential is – but since this was a company in an industry with lots of skeptics inside and as well as outside of the company, I held back and give this a quick thought.

Companies should not necessarily start out where the biggest potential lies. You need to see the bigger picture and thus you need to balance two factors against each other when selecting the starting projects.

They are best potential versus least resistance.

There is no point in starting projects with a great potential if it turns out that this requires that you need to go through channels (primarily internally) having a high resistance for opening up your innovation efforts. Some key reasons for such resistance are fear of change in general, risk management attitudes including low tolerance for failure and worries on sharing intellectual property.

In such cases, the second-best options in terms of expected outcome might be better choices if this gives you a better chance of success, which is crucial to winning over the skeptics in the long run.

Open innovation is in many ways like fighting a war and you need to choose your battles carefully…

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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