A recent piece in the Harvard Business Review claims, “Amidst the gloom and doom of the early months of the COVID-19 crisis, something surprising and uplifting started to happen: Companies began to come together to work openly at an unprecedented level, putting the ability to create value before the opportunity to make a buck.” With collaborations ranging from mobile testing stations, new and much-needed ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE), organizations of every size and sector participated in innovation efforts to help combat the virus spread and improve recovery rates.
Arguing that this climate presents the opportunity to pursue “open innovation” beyond the crisis, the piece outlines how companies can overcome common challenges and achieve sustained open innovation.
Forget about the IP for the moment
According to the article, “Intellectual property concerns are of course real and important, but they risk blocking any open innovation initiative from gaining momentum…Smart companies take a leap of faith, collaborating on important stuff, without risking negative exposure.” When looking for solutions to solve critical business issues, the authors encourage companies to actively seek input, advice, and, in some cases, technological assistance from open innovation partners.
Leverage two-sided motivation
Individual employees and executive leadership are motivated by a range of different things, and all of these motivations factor into what drives the company to donate time or resources. As the HBR piece puts it, “Aligning all of these motivations with what companies wish to achieve takes effort, curiosity, and a portion of humbleness.” It’s important that organizations put in this work and respond to their partners’ true motivation, particularly if they hope to achieve sustained innovation and a long-term partnership.
Embrace new partners
While taking on new partners always incurs costs related to search, validation, and compliance, it’s an important step in gaining the necessary skills and perspectives for moving forward with any collaboration initiative. The HBR piece suggests that the pandemic has alleviated the traditional challenges associated with identifying and onboarding new partners, as many CEOs touted the importance of collaboration to find solutions to the crisis. The authors write, “A crisis can prompt companies to explore a greater number and even new kinds of partners. Preserving some of that open-minded attitude towards new partners after the crisis can help companies stay on top of innovation.”
Urgency leads transformation
Unprecedented circumstances bring a sense of urgency that can help companies quickly transform their innovation infrastructure. As businesses emerge from the pandemic, they should fight to retain the sense of urgency that enabled them to be more collaborative, agile, and creative in their innovation efforts.
You can read the HBR article in its entirety here for more on open innovation and how to achieve—and sustain—it in your organization.