Stefan Lindegaard on Open Innovation

Original interview made by Stefano Mizzella –

What’s your personal definition of “Open Innovation”? Sometimes this term is used as synonym of other terms such as Social Innovation, Crowdsourcing or Co-creation: what’s the correct definition?

There is no correct definition. Innovation means different things to different people and I always urge companies to develop their own definition that fits their situation.

As inspiration, I suggest that you view open innovation as a philosophy or a mindset that you should embrace within your organization. In a more practical definition, open innovation is about bridging internal and external resources and act on those opportunities. The value proposition this gives companies that get it right is simply too good to miss out on.

You can read more about this in my blog post titled “What is Open Innovation? Crowdsourcing? User innovation? Co-Creation?

What are the mistakes to avoid and the best practices for a company intending to revolutionize the innovation process?

This is a big and broad question, but let me give you a few pointers.

First of all, companies must understand that 5-7 years from now, we will not distinguish between innovation and open innovation. We will just have innovation. The term “open innovation” will go away as open becomes a natural part of any innovation process. This is important as companies should avoid different strategies and approaches for innovation and open innovation. It must be the same thing with the end-goal of having a higher external contribution to the process.

Another important thing is that companies should think culture and organizational impact before they think processes and approaches. Yes, the latter needs to be in place in order to get results with open innovation, but this is a long-term game and thus you need to make sure that your organization will truly embrace this new paradigm shift over time.

Open innovation is very much about change management that impacts internal as well as external stakeholders and thus it is a good thing to start small and be willing to experiment. We should also remember that nothing ever happens if strong executive support is missing.

People who criticize the Open Innovation framework say that user lead-innovation can’t create breakthroughs (using Apple or IKEA as example). What’s your take?

Open innovation is not the same thing as user-lead innovation. People who criticize open innovation on this basis do not know what they are talking about. The key thing is that user-lead innovation almost entirely happens in the early stages of an innovation process whereas open innovation needs to be able to happen throughout the entire innovation process.

What’s the relationship you see between Open Innovation and Social Business? How could this kind of innovation be related to other business processes such as marketing, sales and customer care?

I like how the Social Business Forum uses this quote to explain about social business:

“An organization that has put in place the strategies, technologies and processes to systematically engage all the individuals of its ecosystem (employees, customers, partners, suppliers) to maximize the co-created value”.

This is very aligned with the ideas of open innovation.

On the other question, I believe that we need a more holistic approach to innovation. We need to go beyond R&D and we need to get all business functions involved at a much earlier time in the innovation process.

Finally, can you give us some anticipation on your next keynote at Social Business Forum 2011 (The Open Innovation Revolution)?

I will present some cases that give the audience an idea of how successful companies approach open innovation as well as one case on how NOT to do this. Next, I will give an overview of the mindset and skills needed to succeed with open innovation. Hopefully, there will be time for some good questions as I really like to keep my talks as interactive as possible.

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