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Open Innovation Roll-Up: Crowdsourcing, the Benefits of Inefficiency, and How Company Culture Can Stifle Ideas

As we bid adieu to September and head into next month’s theme here on Conspire, it’s time to take a look back at some of our favorite open innovation posts from the past few weeks. From how crowdsourcing can help you generate ideas en masse, to how efficiency is sometimes bad for innovation, we touched on more than a few ways you can harness open innovation practices and strategies to make the most of your ideas.

5 Ways Your Company Culture is Stifling Innovation

Climate is the tenor of the workplace ecosystem. An openly innovative climate cultivates engagement and enthusiasm, challenges people to take risks, fosters learning, and encourages independent thinking. Open innovation is a term promoted by Henry Chesbrough, which simply put means “innovating with partners by sharing risk and sharing reward.” If your company isn’t providing that climate for innovation, then it is stifling innovation.

You might be thinking, “Who cares about innovation in my company? — I’ve got work to do!”  I was once like you; let someone else handle the innovation, because I needed to worry about me. Then I realized that if I didn’t take part in the collaboration, and offer up ideas, my once-successful company would look a lot like so many others (Blackberry comes to mind) that are either no longer with us, or on their way out.

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Crowdsourcing: Open Innovation at its Finest

There are approximately 7 billion+ people wandering around this planet at any given time, about 3/4 of which are considered adults and, if we’re being generous, have the potential to come up with great ideas once in awhile. And, if those roughly 5.2 billion adults have even just one brilliant idea a month, that’s over 60 billion opportunities for innovation per year that enter the collective human mind. Even if you cut these numbers in half, to account for things like unvoiced inspiration or infinite circumstantial variables, it’s boggling to consider what kinds of genius we’re missing out on — and why we aren’t missing out on stuff that’s not so genius.

With the vast majority of businesses worldwide citing innovation as a top priority, the rising adoption of crowdsourcing is incredibly important. Now, we just have to figure out a way to go from encouraging mass ideation to actually harnessing and translating those ideas into progressive, global solutions.

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When Efficiency is the Enemy of Innovation

For all the talk these days of openness, transparency, and company-wide innovation as critical competitive advantages, most of it remains just that – talk. We talk about the death of hierarchy and the rise of social business. About bottom-up innovation and the meritocracy of ideas. About the newly empowered, constantly connected knowledge worker. About the importance – nay, the necessity – of fostering meaningful relationships between brands and consumers.

Yet for all our well-meaning lip service to the twin utopian idols of Social Business and Innovation, these sad, stubborn facts remain:

  1. Fewer than 1 in 5 CEOs believe their investments in innovation are paying off, even though 93 percent said innovation is critical to their organization’s long-term success.
  2. 7 out of 10 American workers have emotionally checked out of their jobs.

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Open Innovation and Project Recovery

No matter how brilliant the idea and how cohesive the team, project failures happen. Actually, an astounding number of projects — 37% according to this study bypmsolutions – are at risk for failure.

Sure, some failed projects start as half-baked ideas anyway, but there are piles of great ideas that fall on every company’s cutting room floor simply because the project was mismanaged in some way. To keep good projects (and cash) from slipping through the cracks, you might sometimes find yourself on the business end of a project recovery — but it’s not always an easy task to pick up the pieces, let alone figure out what went wrong.

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Open Innovation and Competitive Advantage: A Risk You Should Be Willing to Take

Essentially, open innovation is the practice of merging your internal assets and resources with those outside of your organization, in order to get the best value from what you have and what’s out there.

Sometimes that means sharing talent and ideas with another company, but often it can be the practice of actively capitalizing on the nearly limitless knowledge of the world, to increase things like shareholder value, customer satisfaction, and even product engineering and development methods.

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