I attended the 2nd Open Innovation Summit in Chicago last week. It was a really good event with many interesting presentations. In the pre-conference workshop, and in the main conference, the subject of obstacles to OI came up frequently. In many cases, the devil of the piece was the in-house lawyer. One presenter described herself as a “recovering lawyer”. OK, it was said in jest, but it did start me thinking about how lawyers are regarded in innovation projects.
Good – you’re very lucky.
You probably believe that the closed, internal model, which has been so successful in the past, will continue to serve you well in the future. Besides, Open Innovation brings a lot of hassle with it.
You may also be one of the companies who say they practice Open Innovation, and point to a couple of University collaborations as the evidence. If these companies are honest with themselves, they aren’t really doing it.
One of the messages that is often received by people inside organizations is that Open Innovation automatically delivers better solutions simply because they come from outside the company. This exacerbates another potential pitfall with OI; namely, alienating your internal teams (see previous post).
Often, OI initiatives are launched in a blaze of internal glory and publicity, with a separate organization, aimed at targets distinct from those on which the rest of the company is focused.
Open Innovation is different, we should keep it separate. We don’t want Open Innovation to interfere with the real priorities. We need to have a different structure.
Heard this before?
As I said in a previous article, no customer every buys a product based on the source of the technology that went into it. “New, improved, developed internally……” You just don’t hear it. So if the customer doesn’t care, why should you?
If you decide you need to go outside your organization for technical solutions and opportunities, it is easy to understand how your internal R&D teams get the message that they aren’t good enough. After all, if they have done a good job, why ignore them?
Classical “Not Invented Here (NIH)” approaches are usually associated with a secretive and highly protective approach to business. Such companies are keenly aware of the risk of disclosure, the danger of handing even the most minor advantage to competitors and the personal career risk of doing something wrong. The default position is usually legally-driven, involving heavy non-disclosure agreements (NDA), concern about only reviewing non-confidential information, invalidating Intellectual Property and not letting junior people loose.
All organizations understand and value Intellectual Property. Open Innovation has an impact on IP, and it can be negative unless it’s managed properly.
All organizations understand and value Intellectual Property. Open Innovation has an impact on IP, and it can be negative unless it’s managed properly. For example, you can undervalue your share, or even lose IP arising from the collaboration.
All organizations understand and value Intellectual Property. Open Innovation has an impact on IP, and it can be negative unless it’s managed properly. This includes compromising or undervaluing your background IP in a deal with an OI partner.
There appears to be a belief in some companies that it takes too long to set up the necessary infrastructure and links for open innovation. "By the time we’ve set up the OI project, we could have finished the project internally'. The first time you do anything you haven’t done before it takes longer. If you took that attitude consistently you would do everything the way you’ve always done it.