2.3 Open innovation
Open innovation starts with the important realisation that ‘not all the smart people work for us’ (Chesbrough, 2003). Linked to this is the recognition that learning from the experience of others and not feeling the need to constantly reinvent the wheel is a vital step in the process of innovation.
Box 1 Creative swiping
One approach for developing and finding new ideas is creative swiping, first suggested by Tom Peters (1987).
Creative swiping involves recognising the potential in other people’s ideas and learning how to adapt and enhance those ideas in ways that allow you to do things in more advantageous and sustainable ways. Critically, creative swiping is not a licence to plagiarise, defraud or produce counterfeit merchandise by pretending that something you stole from someone else is your work. Peters himself expresses the concept as follows:
Put NIH (Not Invented Here) behind you – and learn to copy (with unique adaptation/enhancement) from the best! Do so by aggressively seeking out the knowledge of competitors (small and overseas, not just tired old foes) and interesting noncompetitors.
Become a ‘learning organization.’ Shuck your arrogance – ‘if it isn’t our idea, it can’t be that good’ – and become a determined copycat/adapter/enhancer.
Open innovation consequently involves looking outwards to see what others are doing and then building on those ideas. This can occur in many ways and can often happen naturally as an organisation works with partners or stakeholders to understand the best way to achieve a mutual goal. This can involve a process known as ‘co-creation’, a process where stakeholders or service users are more actively involved in the development of new, innovative solutions to better meet their needs.
Activity 3 Incremental, radical or open innovation?
What form of innovation underpinned each of the following innovations?
- The radio
- Body-worn cameras
- The Model T Ford
- The digital camera
- The Post-It Note
- Coke Zero
While there are various perspectives on each of these items, the below is one way of categorising each of the innovations listed:
- The radio – an example of a radical innovation.
- Body-worn cameras – an example of a radical innovation
- The Model T Ford – an example of a radical innovation
- The digital camera – an example of a radical innovation
- The Post-It Note – an example of an incremental innovation
- Coke Zero – an example of an incremental innovation
In the next section you will learn about one of the more common innovation processes, Design Thinking.