Book Review: The Open Innovation Revolution
Stefan's area of focus is open innovation, and his new book, The Open Innovation Revolution, is a book meant to provide the ground work for any firm considering an open innovation approach. Stefan's approach is very pragmatic, and the reason I like it is that he takes a very top down, strategic approach to innovation. After introducing what open innovation is and why it matters, he quickly turns his attention to the "mandate" for open innovation. He discusses innovation strategy and strategic purposes, what we at OVO call "strategic intent". Innovation is often a "bolt-on" process that conflicts with strategy rather than a carefully integrated capability, so this focus on strategy rings very true.
He then turns his attention to people and culture, which are the right focus areas. To be successful at open innovation, we need to identify the best partners to work with and also change the thinking inside the firm. The predominant thinking in most firms is to protect intellectual property and to assume "we know best". In a firm focused on open innovation, the presumptive thinking is: we can identify the best ideas, ours or someone else's. It took P&G and Lafley to make this thinking acceptable in the Fortune 500.
Stefan then turns his attention to the individual or team that will lead the open innovation initiative and provides these individuals with insight and support, especially focused on overcoming internal barriers, building a new culture and communicating effectively.
I found it interesting that he didn't spend a lot of time trying to categorize the different "types" of open innovation. Open innovation runs the gamut from solutions like Dell's IdeaStorm to solutions provided by Innocentive to proprietary networks built by firms like P&G. There are a range of approaches that will satisfy very different needs. Additionally, I was a bit surprised that Stefan didn't discuss more about the challenges of intellectual property when considering an open innovation model. When working with a number of customers, partners and vendors, identifying intellectual property, who owns it and who claims it can be a very dicey problem.
This book is addressed to the people who will lead an open innovation initiative, so in some cases it takes on a coaching or consultative voice. The book has a lot of what appear to be verbatim interviews with executives who are conducting open innovation initiatives and each chapter includes a recap and recommendations.
Any individual or team tasked with starting an open innovation program should check out The Open Innovation Revolution.