Monday, September 18, 2006

Open Innovation Blueprint: Commandment 9

This continues my on-going blog on mapping out a blueprint for implementing Open Innovation. The first entry in this series talked about the framework I am using to analyze this question, the Ten Commandments of Change Management. Open Innovation is a big change, and therefore requires a change management program. In today's blog, I'll cover the ninth element of the framework:

9. Communicate, involve people, and be honest
The new paradigm of Open Innovation accelerates time to market, however the underlying matchmaking of technologies and markets is still a game of chance. People in your company need to know what kind of results to expect, which is why benchmarking with other companies is such a good idea. For instance, did you know that you typically have to evaluate 100 good ideas before you find one to take to market? That’s what P&G reports and they’re one of the earliest adopters. Incidentally, a side-benefit of benchmarking is that you build relationships with other companies, making it possible to talk with them also about doing Open Innovation together.

As I always say, people support that which they help create so build support for Open Innovation by involving stakeholders in the process. For instance, promote some of your best R&D people to be Technology Brokers. You may need to give them some training in business skills such as negotiation, but their clout with the R&D people helps smooth the transition to Open Innovation.

Another way of involving R&D people is to have them participate in the technology scouting, prioritization, and vetting processes. Engineers identify problems with technology very well so try giving them a hundred leads and asking which ones are the charlatans. The ones they don’t consider charlatans aren’t necessarily gems either, but this method of prioritization seems to be easier than asking R&D which lead is best, and, like I said, it involves them in the process.

Also, the Chief Innovation Officer should monitor his or staff to make sure they’re not harping on R&D people about a “Not Invented Here” culture. I believe that NIH is a problem that stems from lack of communication between management and R&D. R&D people don’t like to reinvent the wheel; they know that great people stand on the shoulders of giants (Einstein, et al). A CIO can not only monitor the Open Innovation unit’s staff but also train R&D people to insist that Technology Brokers search harder, faster, and more broadly to find qualified leads. R&D people are good at critiquing technology and the issues they raise should be embraced and dealt with, not dismissed as NIH culture.

Show that you value your R&D staff’s contributions to Open Innovation. Try to schedule meetings at times convenient for them. Bring cookies to the Technology Scouting lead-prioritization meetings, because typically R&D would rather be inventing something new than evaluating someone else’s inventions. Generally less resistance comes with Technology Marketing processes due to the personal satisfaction an inventor gets from finding new sources of value in their invention. But bring cookies to all meetings with R&D for good measure. ;-)

I'll mention again, in the spirit of being open, all of these ideas are open for discussion, so please share your thoughts!

Monday, September 11, 2006

A new role model: the hedgehog

An investor I know, Ho Nam, recently wrote a blog posting about foxes vs. hedgehogs. It's full of insightful comparrisons about types of startup-founders. Here are a couple I liked:

  1. Foxes = serial entrepreneurs / Hedgehogs = stay at one company
  2. Foxes = VC-friendly / Hedgehogs = like to boot-strap

So I have a new role model, I guess: the hedgehog ;-)