Got a smart R&D function already? Well, at this year’s Front End of Innovation conference there has been good and constructive discussion on how to successfully embed Open Innovation it into your R&D organisation and throughout the rest of the company structure in order to deliver improved performance. This included an interesting panel session with Open Innovation representatives from Clorox, Motorola and Intuit. Concerns discussed mainly focused on sharing IP, obtaining buy in from the internal organisation and prioritising which ideas to pursue to ensure successful and innovative product development. Naturally, all were geared towards how companies should be optimising NPD processes.
Clorox raised an interesting point during the debate when they mentioned that companies should take a pragmatic approach to sharing IP. In fact, this is key to establishing a win-win situation for the various parties involved with Open Innovation and so the patent sharing needs to be pragmatic and adaptable. At Cambridge Consultants we deal with these situations on a daily basis, both in the product development contracts that we sign with different types of clients and also in advising clients on how to flexibly partner within an Open Innovation framework.
In terms of obtaining buy in from the internal organisation, there was mention from the Motorola panellist to avoid NIH (not invented here) and to ensure ideas get sufficient attention from senior management. In our experience, the senior management engagement should focus on setting the direction for Open Innovation by identifying the criteria by which opportunities are assessed and by committing resources to pursue opportunities that fulfil those criteria. Having said that, the opportunities still need to be prioritised, particularly against internal projects that may be competing for funding (and to maximise technology investments). This is where the external source and internal initiatives come together so a fair and transparent assessment process is crucial to make sure that opportunities are not missed due to internal conflicts.
Finally, when the two streams have come together it is critical that your R&D organisation works seamlessly with the Open Innovation source. This encompasses bringing the right resources from across the organisation together to ensure that the new opportunity is realised and brought to market, while staying sensitive to the delivery of the win-win that is essential for Open Innovation to be sustainably successful.
For those interested in open innovation, you can read more about our views on this subject here at Ruth’s blog
Whilst posted by me, the above are actually the thoughts of our head of Smart R&D, AJ van Bochoven. If you’d like to know more about how he has helped companies improve performance of their R&D, I’d be delighted to put you in touch.