Are you ready for opening up?

John Winsor in his HBR article Being Digital Demands You be more Human talks about two examples where companies opened up their borders and invited their fans to participate only to realize that they can not really handle the fan following. While the author has focussed on keeping a human face while interacting online with your fans and potential customers, it gave me thought on Open Innovation.

Open Innovation is a concept where you ask people outside your organization to contribute ideas for your business. One place where this has worked beautifully is Open Source Software, but then it is something that is not really owned by one entity, most of the work done by independent contributors is kind of co-owned by everyone. In the case of established organizations, the IP intended to be generated in the process is to be used by the organization, so there has to be a process to compensate the ideator. That apart, companies need to answer if they can engage with unorganized crowdsourced ideas without offending those who think their idea must be accepted by you while you may think otherwise. So you have enough communication channels enabled by enough checks and balances that ensure the quality of ideas from the pipeline.

Most organizations struggle with establishing a good pipeline of implementable ideas inside the organization where everything is under control, so establishing one from outside is going to be a far bigger challenge. Having said that ideas coming outside will be uninhibited and from direct expectations of customers, so they will have that edge.

Evaluate if you are ready to open your organization boundaries for letting the flood of new ideas in!

Anuradha Goyal