I appreciate the broad definition of open innovation, as championed by Henry Chesbrough. But I often tend toward a more narrow definition. To me, open innovation is more about making sure innovation is not stifled from the capable people we surround ourselves with everyday.
This viewpoint has been honed through consistent budget constraints whether it’s a minimally funded startup or the constrained budgets of a secondary brand of a large multinational. So, while I agree that companies should look externally as well as internally for ideas to license or buy, if you’re capital restricted — you’ll find another way.
Here are five of my beliefs to get the most innovation out of your current efforts.
First time entrepreneurs often make a mistake of being too worried about revealing the big idea, and never get to the critical point of executing. The reality is few people are going to steal your idea. They’re too busy in their own world to step into yours. By sharing your ideas with your community and peers, you’ll get good feedback that helps you avoid mistakes and improve your chances of a successful execution. You’ll also enjoy more time for executing.
And there are advantages of doing this face to face. Technology is enabling and a tool, but it changes the dynamic of how people interact. Have you tried to run a meeting via Skype? Collaboration is best served unhindered.
Share Ideas without Fear
Enjoy the freedom to say random weirdness when you create a culture of trust. That trust is earned from an environment that lets ideas be heard, without prejudice, and ensures they are understood when necessary. Criticism is fair but not if it’s condemning — curb the sarcasm and the negative body language or the ideas won’t be forthcoming.
Forget the ego — it’s a team game and the team will be stronger when others want to contribute.
People feel more motivated if their contributions benefit a joint resource. Giving up exclusive ownership and credit allows others the chance to contribute and benefit as well. It’s a big part of the startup community whether you’re talking about equity for the founding team and early hires, or simply the sharing of ideas and information throughout the community.
The startup community is a giving one. We’re supportive of each other, because at many times we’re on the brink of disaster and it’s terrifying. Having a pool of people who share the experience and can empathize is rewarding as well as self preserving.
Break Old Habits
Exposure to different industries, technologies, cultures, art, ideas, food is often the spark that drives innovation. Exposing yourself and your team to other ways of thinking and doing, even in relation to the simplest tasks can drive more innovative thinking.
This can be as simple as changing which hand you brush teeth with, or taking an alternate path to work, to as complex as learning a new language. Efforts like this create new neural pathways in our brains and keeps us thinking clearer.
You Can’t Do it All Yourself
Most company’s cringe at the idea that their products or services should be hackable. And many individuals feel the same about their own ideas and initiatives. But being open about what we’re working toward can reap its rewards.
When Microsoft launched Kinect, it was a hit and it attracted a lot of attention beyond consumers. Hackers started playing with it and creating things that Microsoft never intended. But rather than restricting efforts as it had in the past, Microsoft embraced the hackers even altering the USB cable to allow for more developmental flexibility and releasing a software development kit leading to better sales and an improving image.
These are some of the things I’ve learned over time and stick with me. What thoughts can you share?