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Integrating open innovation within your organisation

In this video we'll hear advice from two open innovation experts from Durham University on how to make it a success in your own contexts.

In the video we’ll hear Dr Hammond talk about the importance of making open innovation a core strategic objective which is well communicated across the organisation and Professor Fernandes gives his top two tips for managers looking to implement open innovation.

Professor Fernandes also talks about understanding that cultural change takes time. Let’s now consider the culture that would need to be developed to ensure that open innovation becomes more than a mechanism for collecting ideas and actually transforms the whole innovation process.

In week 2 we explored the role the network can play in shaping relationships that can lead to open innovation. As organisations develop processes for engaging with open innovation, however, they need to overcome some of the challenges associated with managing innovation in general – for example protecting intellectual property. Laursen and Salter (2014) explored some aspects of this and found what they called the ‘paradox’ of openness. As they explain, the creation of innovations requires openness, yet their commercialisation requires protection. There is therefore a balance that needs to be achieved between establishing processes for protecting innovations, eg legal documents and collaborative agreements, and the degree of openness with external parties, eg the development of informal relationships for the sharing of ideas. If, on one hand, the legal protection is too restrictive then individuals will be less likely to exchange ideas. If on the other there is no legal protection, the willingness to share ideas may be reduced.

Developing a culture of open innovation therefore requires an appreciation of this paradox. This may start with an understanding of an organisation’s strength and weaknesses which can provide confidence to individuals in sharing and seeking ideas. For instance, if an organisation knows what it is good at and why, then it knows how much information it can share without compromising its intellectual property. Similarly, if an organisation knows what it is missing then it can be more confident in seeking new partnerships, which it knows can be beneficial.

Clearly, this is not an easy task. Although setting up processes and legal agreements for managing the relationship between two or parties may relatively straight forward, developing a close relationship based on trust requires a significantly higher level of engagement. Training and a ‘no blame’ culture are key enablers in this journey.

Reflection

  • Consider the barriers to the implementation of an open innovation culture in your organisation.
  • Do you think there are processes, such as ones for protection of IP which prohibit individuals from speaking to an organisation?
  • As a customer, have you ever been able to talk openly to any organisation about the development of a new product or a new service? If so, what was the process like? For instance, were you asked to sign any agreement or contract?

Reference

Laursen, K. and Salter, A.J. (2014) ‘The paradox of openness: Appropriability, external search and collaboration’, Research Policy, 43, pp867-878.

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Harnessing Open Innovation in Business

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