In talking with one of his clients about the barriers to open innovation within an organization, Dwayne Spradlin, CEO and President of InnoCentive, received a wonderfully insightful quote: “Culture eats strategy for lunch.”
As Spradlin told BusinessWeek (podcast), the right culture is essential to making open innovation work. When leadership supports it from the top, Spradlin believes that “people will be extraordinary.” If middle-management receives the necessary permission to be creative and come up with new ideas, they will be the ones who drive open innovation.
Founded in 2001, InnoCentive works with a wide range of businesses to develop incentive-based innovation challenges. Solutions are found by a community of problem solvers spread all around the world. From running these challenges and working with clients, Spradlin offers the following advice for organizations looking to tap the power of an open innovation system:
- Make sure that you create an innovation challenge only for tasks that you intend to move forward on.
- Ask the right question–think of a specific “what if” question that might result in a business advancement, rather than just posing general business problems.
- Harness a group of “problem facilitators” with the skills to develop the right questions and evaluate the solutions to your innovation challenges. This will improve the efficiency of the rest of your company when it moves forward with innovative ideas.
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BY MATTHEW QUINT