Never forget your most valuable innovation asset

When targeting participants for your open innovation programme, consider suppliers, customers and universities. But don’t forget your most valuable asset: your employees are themselves a community of stakeholders, often from different countries, cultures, backgrounds and businesses. They are your most important open innovation source.

In this sense, after laying out goals, challenges and workflow designs to engage your external contributors using a software platform, your innovation initiative provider should also help you to integrate the generated content with your internal community. This means you invite your people to screen and evaluate the best contributions given by those external participants, adopting the software platform for their own purposes.

They will help you deal with and efficiently assess expected high volumes of information – and to decide which contributions a final jury should analyse to find the competition’s winner. By doing this, you gather and leverage your organisation’s collective intelligence, aligning it with initiative’s goals.

True, your teams may have their own orthodoxies. But remember they can identify, better than anyone else can, both ‘false positives’ (ideas that seem auspicious but wouldn´t work in your organisation) and ‘false negatives’ (ideas seemingly outside your scope but carrying unexpected value).

This approach also makes sure that you don’t get stuck in bureaucratic monsters, when having to analyse all inputs received. It lets you focus on the process’s later stages, promoting transparency, winning sponsorship and accelerating decision-making and implementation within your organisation.

All in all, while embarking upon your open innovation quest, be sure to capture equally high external and internal levels of engagement. The entire initiative and evaluation process, in particular, must be efficient, and the balance between your external and internal collective intelligence is key to get it successfully done.

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s co-founder/

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