Innovation is a critical part of any firm’s strategy. From continuous improvement initiatives to go-to-market tactics to rebranding and beyond, a company must evolve in the right direction to compete successfully.
Achieving sustained innovation has been a leadership quest for many years, with mixed results. As the traditional system of secrecy and locked doors that were once successful becomes less and less fruitful, organizations find it difficult to innovate independently. Some hire high-cost “innovation experts.” Some look for ways to jumpstart new channels of thought from within. Many end up stuck, spinning corporate wheels as they pay for effort with few solutions.
Forward-looking companies seek new innovation models that keep pace with market evolution and how people want to work today. They recognize that the best solutions may lie outside the business. Open innovation, a strategy that opens ideation and problem-solving to external talent, has proven successful in generating solutions, often in unexpected ways. Many companies around the world use the power of the crowd to help create successful products and services.
These are four of the benefits of implementing open innovation in an enterprise:
1. Help Build or Improve an Optimized Workforce
The blended or optimized workforce, combining employees and contractors in the total worker population, has demonstrable benefits. The “third leg of the talent stool” is a pool of workers beyond an organization’s walls. These are “ideates,” participants in an open innovation program. The combined brainpower of employees, contractors, and ideates can be powerful contributors to business growth. Open innovation brings in the third group that makes the talent stool stable, agile, and highly productive.
2. Keep the Idea Pipeline Full and Flowing
Innovation requires ideas—thousands of them to achieve one success. An open innovation environment can provide a steady flow of ideas to address business challenges without adding headcount. Further, the ideas being generated are outside the organization, free of history or culture-driven friction, so you can end up with a trove of potential breakthrough
3. Save Costs (Especially in a Down Economy)
Just as open-source software development counts cost savings as a major benefit, open innovation can help reduce spend. Companies can break their reliance on high-priced consultants and creative agencies and, at the same time, tap into a much broader spectrum of innovators in a low-cost, low-risk environment.
4. Reach Millennials and Gen Zs
The two youngest working age groups comprise nearly half the independent workforce and will soon be the largest portion of the US workforce. These people grew up in a digital world with an information age mindset toward innovation which is the opposite of traditional corporate secrecy and siloing. Further, many are not interested in traditional employment. Open innovation technology can help engage this highly creative and innovative portion of the workforce.
The future of work can’t be defined using yesterday’s systems and roles. Leave the closed doors of traditional innovation behind. Open those doors, and you may find that your next big idea comes from an unexpected source.