Worth Reading: Open Innovation and Innovation

Online reading of technology transfer newsI always read a lot about open innovation and innovation—mainly sourced from my Twitter® and RSS feed—and then leverage the best practices and lessons learned in my work with our clients as they try to build partnerships and relationships to support innovation. Lately I’ve run across a few things that I think are worth sharing with our readers.

A favorite blogger of mine, Nilofer Merchant, recently posted excerpts from an interview with Philip Auserwald in which they explored many of the keys to successful open innovation, including “superlative communication” and adaptability. As I have often stated, these things are critical to open innovation efforts. BTW, I really liked the ant analogy!

An interview with GE’s Mark Little on ForbesIndia.com echoed some key points relevant to open innovation and as well as innovation generally. First, “innovation is never a straight line,” meaning that we cannot predict exactly where innovation and markets will take us. The best we can do is to be prepared (and adaptable) and to keep our eyes open for opportunities. In addition, Mark highlighted a successful case of open innovation where the manufacturing technology in the GEnx engine that just entered the market came from a group in Germany that makes jewelry. Now that’s applying a technology in a totally different market!

I’d be remiss not to mention crowdsourcing when talking about open innovation today. A new crowdsourcing platform for manufacturing may help to harness and shape some next-generation manufacturing technology and applications. GE Global Research, MIT, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are behind this new crowdsourcing platform as a key part of efforts to build the “Industrial Internet” to connect data, design tools, and simulations in a collaborative environment to accelerate the design of highly complex industrial systems. With innovation in manufacturing being a key focus area for economic development for the President, this platform may be a means to support that.

I also found an article on the Harvard Business Review blog about Gillette’s reverse innovation that was intriguing. If the story goes full circle, then will Gillette disrupt itself? Will it tolerate that, or will an outside force do the disrupting? I couldn’t help but hear one of Clayton Christensen’s many amazing lectures on disruptive innovation in my head as I read this.

For anyone who has not had the joy of reading Tom Fishburne’s work, please start! His cartoons (or should I say marketoons) have a way of sending a message that is so simple yet effective. His recent We’re Going Digital brings up a critical point that I’d like to apply to open innovation. Tom said it well, “Sometimes marketers forget that media platforms are enablers to big ideas. They aren’t the big ideas themselves.” This lesson applies to open innovation too: Open innovation itself is not the end game; rather, it is a means to the end, which is better strategic business development for your organization. That’s the point of my upcoming webinar with Laura Schoppe: To help you do more than talk the talk of open innovation; we’ll help you learn how to walk the walk!

Finally, we’ve blogged before about the need to be patient when it comes to getting to a deal, be it licensing or partnering, let alone seeing commercial success in a technology spin-out. Now, TTOs that are getting pressured regarding how long tech transfer takes have another resource, thanks to Tim Kastelle’s blog post: Three Hidden Factors that Make Innovation Diffusion Hard. This post hits on the often not discussed realities and challenges of innovation. Thanks, Tim, for bringing this front and center!

I hope that you find these articles on open innovation and innovation interesting and useful in your innovation efforts. What are your top picks for news or commentary in this area? Post a comment below or else send me a private message.

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