Approaching a new strategy or practice for innovation is going to have growing pains. As open innovation becomes a more widespread concept, it seems that there are a few common issues that organizations encounter. Here are five ways that open innovation tools can help you overcome these challenges and get the most from your organization’s external ecosystem.
Give people guidance
One of the biggest challenges when opening your organization to outside perspectives is ensuring that you’re collecting useful contributions. Companies often fear that channels will be overwhelmed with ideas that are irrelevant or deal with areas of the business that aren’t a priority.
The solution to this is to limit the scope of your open innovation project. Ensure that you clearly say what you are hoping to achieve so that your contributors can send in ideas that are relevant. When embarking on an open innovation project, check that your innovation management software enables you to set structured challenges, and can include the level of detail you need to make decisions about the ideas.
Furthermore, this limits the time internal teams need to spend reviewing as all the ideas suggested are more likely to be relevant to the organization’s overall strategy. Invest some time prior to the start of your project, establish the outcomes desired, and create a coherent challenge that your stakeholders can engage with.
Ensure you reach the right people using open innovation tools
Open innovation offers the opportunity to gain external insight, however, many organizations often make the mistake of embracing every group of stakeholders on every challenge. This can cause many problems including; lack of engagement, suggestions outside the scope of the project, and frustration from your internal teams when they attempt to review ideas.
Investing in an open innovation tool that enables you to target specific groups and monitor those that are contributing helps to ensure that you get the best quality suggestions. This is because you can select external stakeholders who will have an understanding of the broader context related to the challenge.
Create order to highlight the best ideas
The biggest deterrent to open innovation is the idea that it means chaos for an organization. However, establishing processes is the best way to drive innovation within both your internal and external ecosystems.
Processes support standardization, which will improve the quality of contributions and the number of ideas that are progressed to the next stage of your innovation process.
Utilizing processes to standardize the innovation journey for both internal and external teams does not restrict creativity, but instead, enhances it. Teams will be able to collaborate effectively and efficiently as they will be aware of the structure these processes have created.
Ensuring that you invest in software that makes these processes repeatable will not only drive adoption of the open innovation funnel but also allows for an easier review cycle from your internal employees.
Implementing a process and educating your internal teams on it will help drive the integration of your external stakeholders as innovators within your organization. When approaching open innovation, many organizations view these external innovators as separate entities. This disconnect can negatively impact the collaboration that drives successful innovation projects.
Implementing an open innovation tool that supports structured innovation processes is the answer. Engagement will rise and you’ll receive ideas tailored to your challenges if your external stakeholders can:
- Understand the journey they are on
- Receive appropriate feedback on their idea
- Understanding whether it has been taken forward and if not, why this has happened.
Creating accessibility supports contributor motivation
Finally, the biggest challenge with open innovation is that it will only succeed if you have the engagement from external stakeholders. So how can you motivate your audience to participate?
Firstly, look at the challenge you have set for the audience. Is it framed in a way that they can interact with? Have you asked questions that they can answer, or are you trying to gain insight that only internal teams would be aware of? One way to solve this issue is to implement processes so that your challenges follow a routine format to maximize the most engagement from your contributors.
Secondly, look at the platform you are using to innovate. Is this open innovation tool encouraging collaboration amongst external creators as well as between your teams? Feedback is essential to the continual motivation of external innovators. If suggestions are ignored, then people will lose their enthusiasm for the project. Positive and constructive feedback enables growth both in the individual and in the idea itself.
Finding the right open innovation tool and ensuring that your tool recognizes the importance of collaboration and embeds it into the user interface is key to overcoming all the challenges discussed. Having the ability to then leverage this with your own internal system will mean that processes will seamlessly develop and enable your teams to turn ideas into actionable solutions.
Finally, standardizing innovation within your organization will not only sustain engagement from your external innovators but help support the internal processes and reviewing stages, driving forward the adoption of the scheme. Considering all these aspects will make gathering ideas through open innovation a much easier task.
FAQs For Open Innovation Tools
What is an open innovation tool?
Enterprise-level businesses use open innovation tools to source ideas and suggestions from external sources, such as clients, partner organizations, and academics. An open innovation tool provides a central area to capture and review suggestions before converting them into live projects.
Why are innovation tools important for businesses?
Organizations use innovation tools to capture ideas and store them in a centralized location, before turning the most useful into live projects. Using an innovation tool prevents valuable suggestions from being lost.
Who uses open innovation tools?
Innovation and business change teams use open innovation tools to source ideas from outside their organization. This helps them to create new products and services, solve business challenges, or reduce their environmental impact.