Open Innovation: Convincing the Decision Makers
Open Innovation Shouldn’t Be a Hard Sell. But, All Too Often, It Is.
At Ezassi, we believe whole-heartedly in the importance of Open Innovation for the survival of businesses. That being said, we also fully recognize that convincing decision makers to go forward with Open Innovation initiatives can be a hard sell. It almost seems counterintuitive that the same leaders who were responsible for launching and cultivating a successful business, would be resistant to change even in the face of evolving markets. Yet all too often, that is the case. Open Innovation convincing decision makers should be a primary focus.
This means that it falls on employees to make the case for Open Innovation and convincing the decision makers, which can be a thin line to walk. To help you navigate these choppy waters, we put together a comprehensive guide entitled, “How to Make Open Innovation an Easy Sell in Your Organization,” which was recently featured in the prestigious publication, Innovation Leader.
About Innovation Leader
Innovation Leader was founded in 1995 by a team of journalists who first began working together at the Boston Globe. They used their combined experience to launch several award-winning websites, including Boston.com. Over the years, they expanded by adding other journalists, analysts and media entrepreneurs to form a team of unbiased professionals who provide comprehensive coverage that helps decision makers and innovators make a real impact. We are proud to have been published in such progressive outlet that is contributing to our field.
In the article, Open Innovation Convincing Decision Makers, we discuss the fact that convincing decision makers to commit to Open Innovation requires a strategic approach. You will need to formulate a pitch that will make the case for not only making the most of internal talent, but also being prepared to seek input from outside the company in order to avoid developing tunnel vision when it comes to innovation.
Below is a quick summary of our six tips or you can read the full text:
- Start the conversation with a question. Avoid telling management what they should be doing differently. Instead, try to create the right environment for an open discussion.
- Paint a picture of the future. It is an absolute guarantee that your competitors are investing resources into innovation. Outline what the future might look like if they continue to innovate unchallenged.
- Make the argument for Open Innovation. Industry experts, problem solvers and even your customer base, represent untapped resources that have the potential to both identify possible threats to your business and generate real solutions that can be implemented.
- Identify competitors that use Open Innovation. Instead of simply stating that others are taking full advantage of Open Innovation, provide direct examples of which competitors are using this tool and how.
- Come prepared with a plan for safe implementation. Be sure to provide practical steps for implementing your plan and provisions for protecting both the company and individual’s intellectual property.
- Provide an Open Innovation impact assessment. Be sure to include ways that you will be able to measure the success of your Open Innovation tools.
The Case for Open Innovation: Examples
These tips for helping employees convince decision makers to adopt Open Innovation are the result of years of research, development and hands-on work with clients. In our experience, many companies are resistant to Open Innovation because they have a fear of the unknown. This is understandable, especially since the term “Open Innovation” only became a part of the corporate lexicon around 2003. Ultimately, these fears can be generally grouped into two main categories:
- Fear of security vulnerabilities
- Fear of effectively executing an Open Innovation platform
Through our work with Medtech companies, we found that decision makers were especially concerned with security because they are responsible for protecting sensitive information and they have to ensure that new ideas aren’t leaked to the competition. Essentially, they didn’t trust that Open Innovation software was advanced enough to protect their interests. This ties perfectly with our topic here, Open Innovation Convincing Decision Makers.
Fortunately, we were able to demonstrate that it is completely safe to connect with people outside of their company to fuel innovation. Think of it this way: if online businesses can safely conduct trillions of transactions on a daily basis, then other data can also be equally protected. We also effectively made the argument that resisting innovation posed a much greater risk to their business than adopting Open Innovation software and techniques.
Another big hurdle to convincing company leaders that Open Innovation is worth the time and effort is closing an education gap. Often times, senior executives have a difficult time picturing exactly how Open Innovation software works and how it is able to effectively encourage collaboration. Here are just a few highlights of how Ezassi makes use of technology to drive innovation, to aid you with your sell on Open Innovation Convincing Decision Makers:
- A single point of entry provides both security and efficiency
- Companies can create separate logins to provide employee access and/or an external sign-in for community users outside of the company.
- The dashboard features customized content for all types of users, including: customers employees and experts. The content can range anywhere between highly technical and non-technical depending on the user.
- The public facing portal can be designed to reflect and reinforce your personal branding
- Create a customized URL that can stand alone or be deployed from your corporate site.
- IP structure protects ideas.
- One-click registration with auto-populate tools.
- All the content is readable and searchable in order to connect users and encourage collaboration.
- The dynamic dashboard is constantly providing updates, relevant news and engaging with users.
- Alerts will help users connect with other recommended users based on interests and experience.
A lot of executives are under the false impression that the software is a static tool that is cumbersome to use. On the contrary, it is totally dynamic and customizable, so that every project has the potential to yield meaningful results.
From Closing the Sale to Implementing Solutions
Once you have effectively convinced decision makers within your company to use open innovation, there are some common pitfalls to be aware of as you move forward. Generating new ideas is just one piece of the puzzle. Companies also need to create internal mechanisms for managing a new influx of ideas and transforming an idea into something that can be brought to market and generate more business.
As your internal team is faced with more external ideas, there is the potential for an innovation bottleneck to occur. This happens when there isn’t a clear and manageable pipeline for evaluating and directing ideas, which can actually slow innovation even further. Businesses also face problems if their solutions don’t include a plan for implementation. Be sure to focus ample attention on exactly how product and services will be successful on a more practical business level.
The Time to Innovate is Now!
Open Innovation Convincing Decision Makers — Making Your Argument
As you make the argument for Open Innovation, you may also receive push back based on timing or budget issues. If the company isn’t experiencing peak prosperity, then leaders tend to go into survival mode and put new projects on hold. At the same time, when business is good, they may become complacent and more likely to go with what is working. So, when exactly is the best time to invest time and energy into developing a system that can support open innovation? The answer will always be: now. This is especially true during lean times.
The Great Recession taught business leaders a lot of hard lessons. Focusing on projects that are more likely to generate profit and speak to the company’s core business represents a short-term strategy that can compromise long-term survival. Instead of doubling down on what works during tough times, companies need to look towards inside-out strategies that will both drive immediate growth and position themselves to thrive once markets rebound.
During my time at Ezassi, I have seen time and again how employees, customers and outside experts can transform companies through Open Innovation. As more businesses adopt this strategy and become less insular, we will see the power of collaboration and cloud technology at work. With the right innovation tools, the potential for innovation across all industries is essentially infinite and we are proud to be a powerful force behind this business revolution — Open Innovation Convincing Decision Makers.
Ezassi’s success is due, in part, to our ability to address both the concerns of innovators and clients when it comes to Open Innovation. We rely on a unique and proprietary structure with IP protection that captures submission detail in a non-confidential format. A layered approach to terms and conditions is designed to equally protect the client and the solver. This system allows for the safe exchange of ideas under parameters that are specific to each client, and project, while still always offering protection for everyone involved.
The Driving Force
Open Innovation Convincing Decision Makers
While predicting business trends is not an exact science, it is safe to say that Open Innovation will be a driving force behind every industry as markets become increasingly globalized, and therefore more competitive. It won’t be enough for companies to rely on internal teams without incorporating outside input. The trick is to convince key decision makers to act sooner than later so that your company can continue to be an industry leader. Be sure to use this article, as well as our recent publication, “How to Make Open Innovation an Easy Sell in Your Organization,” to help make the case to both your colleagues and leadership as to why you company should be adopting Open Innovation technology, today.