2 min read

What Is Open Innovation

What Is Open Innovation
Elia Mörling

Elia Mörling

Photo by Diego PH

And What Does It Mean?

Innovation and an industry, is continually changing, or being defined; which makes nailing down a concrete understanding of them, difficult.  Working within this space, we see first hand the changes and nuances that are happening everyday. From the titles of leaders or experts in innovation, to the strategy and processes, this field is growing.

This can leave people with some questions - like what is the definition of innovation?  Are there different types? Does open innovation only refer to crowdsourcing ideas? In this post, we’re breaking down the terms most often used to help provide a sharper lense through which to view the innovation landscape.

We break innovation down into two different types: Closed VS Open.

Closed innovation

Historically, a few individuals from an organization or company, typically engineers or some kind of specialists, were broken off from the rest of the teams, and worked in a location that was physically separated from the rest of the organization.  

Large companies, think of car manufacturers for example, would create separate organizations or offshoots from their main brand, house them in places like silicon valley, where they could work without disturbing the day to day focus of revenue generation.

Open Innovation

Defined by Henry Chesbrough in 2014, Open Innovation is “A distributed innovation process based on purposively managed knowledge flows across organisational boundaries.”

But what does that mean?

Open innovation is when more people, from various backgrounds are invited into the innovation process. That being said, there are various extents a company go when talking about openness. Typically companies are finding that working with people from different teams, backgrounds and specialties within their organization is the best fit. This enables them to look at problems, challenges and opportunities from different angles, with different methods of thinking, to produce better results.

Other companies take this further and invite people external to their organization into the innovation process. Some choose to work with startups, experts, or universities. Other might create an innovation consortium creating partnerships with other companies in their industry. Etc.

The most extreme form of open innovation is sourcing ideas from the crowd, ie being totally public. Companies like HyperLoop have achieved this with success - you can read more here.

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