Delivering killer products through open innovation
Our recent participation at the CoDev conference highlighted some key learnings for successfully delivering open innovation projects.
Customer vs technology driven innovation
For an innovation project to succeed, it’s essential that it is driven by consumer outcomes vs technology, as ultimately the consumer has to value the result - also technology push is rarely successful. For large companies, this can be supported through setting up regional innovation centers that identify and generate potential breakthrough innovations which can then be shared across a global network. Crucially, the applications for these innovations, whilst shared globally, are applied locally, helping to ensure that innovations generate value and are not ‘innovations for innovation’s sake’. Equally important, however, is that open innovation projects are aligned with the company’s commercial strategy to ensure you have the backing/ability to exploit them.
Working with multiple partners in this way can enable companies to identify tangible new opportunities for innovation and move faster and more efficiently into new, non-core areas.
Balancing discipline with agility
Structures and frameworks for collaboration are necessary to ensure each partner within the innovation network understands its role and responsibilities within the larger objectives of each project. However, while frameworks are important, they must be implemented in a way that still allows a level of flexibility – so that creativity is not stifled and so that you have the ability to react to the reality of project operation. Open, honest, regular but concise communication is essential for this, but it’s important to recognize which partners need to know what, rather than involving everyone in everything.
Be open to looking outside existing innovation channels
Using a network of partners provides the opportunity to look outside your usual innovation channels and to tap into the expertise and creativity that lies beyond, often in completely different sectors. This can result in new ideas or discovering existing innovations that can be applied in a novel way for your own project. Campbell’s Soup, for example, did this by employing a team of professional chefs to help develop new flavors for their products. In combination, technologies were sourced from other seemingly unrelated industries, such as drug delivery technology, to ensure that the flavors delivered in the correct quantity at the right time to the consumer.
Working with multiple partners in this way can enable companies to identify tangible new opportunities for innovation and move faster and more efficiently into new, non-core areas. Furthermore, if implemented effectively, this approach can reduce the risks involved in a product development program, ultimately benefiting all of the parties involved.