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Why Open Innovation Accelerates Ideas to Profits

In the movie Goldfinger,  M asks James Bond “what do you know about gold?”  Bond replies with “I know it when I see it.”  (the original expression was made famous by Supreme Court Judge Potter Steward in Jacobellis v. Ohio  (1964), regarding possible obscenity in The Lovers.)

That was basically the response I had after attending the open2012 inaugural event held at the Computer History Museum in Mt. View CA. last December (see my article “Has Your Internal Innovation Efforts Lost Steam? Perhaps It’s Time To Look At Open Innovation” ).

The “it” in this case is what I believe to be a game changer on how we approach and execute innovation.  More specifically the emergence of open innovation (OI) platforms will become a key resource in accelerating the process of discovering and transforming great ideas into commercial successes.

Chance Favors The Connected Mind

Steven Johnson’s core message in his book “Where Good Ideas Come From” can be summed up as “change favors the connected mind.”  His main hypothesis is that the great driver of scientific and technological innovation has been the historic increase in connectivity and our ability to reach out and exchange ideas with other people. Good ideas normally come from the “collisions” (exchanges and combinations) of other ideas that form something bigger than themselves.

When we really thing about innovations, there are very few new innovations that are created from scratch. Technology and science is more evolutionary than revolutionary. Though from the outside looking in, it may not seem that way. As Isaac Newton once stated “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants”

Checkout Steven Johnson’s talk on “Where Do Good Ideas Come From” on YouTube. It’s only 4 minutes and worth the time.

OI Platforms That Connect The Minds

The better we can facilitate the exchange and combining of different ideas, the more likely we will uncover new innovative ideas and solution.  The purpose and mission of OI platforms is to do just that. Plus facilitate and manage the conversation and work flow between diverse groups of people to discover and solve important problems. (See my article on How Diversity Helps You Innovate More Effectively on why diversity is important.)

There are a lot of success stories using OI  platforms to solve specific technical and business problems by taking advantage of a diverse set of expertise outside a company’s walls. For larger enterprises, these walls very likely are inter-divisional walls. Many of these larger enterprises are turning to OI to find internal expertise from others within the enterprise, who might otherwise be lost in action.

Checkout some of the case studies on Maven (case studies are located the “Join Maven” tab), IBM’s Jam Events  and P&G’s C+D site to see how companies are using open innovation platforms for problem solving.

Using OI platforms to support the Jobs-To-Be-Done Marketing Lens

What really caught my attention at Open2012 was the realization that these OI platforms can provide a very efficient way to conduct market research to support jobs-to-be-done (J2BD) research.

One of the challenges in executing a J2BD innovation project is finding the right subjects to interview and survey. This is especially challenging when we are investigating a “job” that falls outside our current networks. Unfortunately what often happens is we end up talking to subjects who don’t represent the real job executers, or can’t locate  a sufficient  number of job executers to make the research statistically meaningful.  The result: a lot of effort is wasted on getting questionable market input.

OI platforms simplifies the process of locating qualified subjects to interview. You might have to check out a couple of different OI platforms to make sure they have a set of job executers in their network that matches your requirements. Many of these platforms won’t charge you until you are satisfied they can deliver value to you  from their network and platforms.

A good OI platform will make J2BD research, as well as other voice-of-customer research, simpler, faster and at a lower cost than traditional research methods (simpler-faster-cheaper is a good indication of a disruptive technology at work).  Look for platforms that have the tools to locate and conduct VoC research. You will want to use platforms that  include virtual presentations, conferencing and surveys to support your effort.

There are lot of great platforms out there to facilitate J2BD research that I’ll explore with you in future articles.

Until then, keep an open mind and connect your mind with other innovators.


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