You Don’t Have to Own Everything for Making Innovation Happen

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In my last blog post: Yes, Innovation Is Messy!, I urged companies to look into a faster approach to innovation in which you do not always know the outcomes of your actions.

This spurred an interesting comment from Michael Fruhling, which went like this:

“It is a lot easier to take the Starbucks approach when you control the distribution channel, and therefore, they get to assume all of the risk. I assume that Microsoft can (or could) pull this off because they are (were) the only game in town for PC based operating systems. Other folks don’t typically have this kind of leverage.”

True. It is easier to be bolder in your innovation approaches when you own the distribution channel as you can better absorp and manage the potential failures that come with a higher risk profile.

However, I would argue that open innovation can bring a similar freedom to operate if – and yes, that is a big if – you can get your partners on board this mindset of experimentation as with the Starbucks case and as we often see in the IT industry. You do not necessarily have to own things like a distribution channel. Sometimes control or influence can be just as good.

This ties into some of my other thoughts on open innovation, eco-systems and education. It is not enough to just get your own organization ready for open innovation. You also need to bring your partners – and potential partners – up to speed.

I foresee that a big piece in future open innovation efforts will be programs that tackle this upfront. Companies will simply have procedures or programs in place that explain what open innovation means to the company, what they expect from partners, what they can deliver themselves as well as a training program to address needs and issues on this.

This will probably take 3-5 years before it will be common, but I am confident it will happen : – )

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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