Monday, May 3, 2010

FEI2010 - Critical Lessons On Open Innovation, A Panel Discussion

C. Engdahl reporting from FEI2010

Critical Lessons On Open Innovation - A Panel Discussion
Panel Moderated by Stefan Lindegaard
Panelists: Chris Thoen – P&G, Jeff Bellairs – General Mills

Stefan Lindegaard of 15inno led an interesting discussion as part of the Beyond “Open” Summit at FEI2010 with corporate practitioners Chris Thoen, Managing Director of Open Innovation at P&G and Jeff Bellairs, Sr. Director Connected Innovation at General Mills. After a few introductions, Stefan began the discussion concerning open innovation by facetiously suggesting that those organizations that have a monopoly on all the smart people who may be able to impact their businesses, have no need for open innovation. For everyone else, open innovation provides a real opportunity for growth.

The new competition is not about internal knowledge and focus, but rather about an organization’s ability to reach out, partner, and develop outside relationships and subsequent products based on these relationships.” – Chris Thoen, Managing Director of Open Innovation at P&G

Why did P&G and General Mills begin to explore Open Innovation? Both companies went through a period of relative financial turmoil. Financial targets weren’t being met, leadership was changing. Open Innovation was viewed as a way to create real, sustainable value for the organization. There was a time Mr. Thoen suggests where P&G was seen as “The Kremlin of Ohio, where external ideas came to die.” This needed changing. Success depended on it.

The trio talked much about culture and change. Some key takeaways from the discussion included:
- Open innovation is a “journey”. Line up and manage expectations. Think of driving culture change over a period of years versus weeks or months
- Internal processes need to be in order before you go “open.” Frustration amongst partners will ensue if you don’t have your own processes developed
- Leverage the work of others and learn from their mistakes. Benchmark to create foundation for your open innovation efforts. Don’t reinvent the wheel, yet don’t expect competitors to share all info concerning their own efforts. Modify benchmarking information to fit your organization
- Create some early wins. Demonstrate value.
- Early in process, engage businesses to identify key performance indicators that will drive business. Use this as the basis for innovation efforts
- Align efforts with business strategy
- Don’t expect the people that are successful internal innovators to be the people that are successful external innovators. The skill set needed for Open Innovation can be different.

Open Innovation requires you to be a ‘Clydesdale’, not necessarily a ‘Thoroughbred’. It takes tenacity and a focus on early wins to be successful.” - Jeff Bellairs, Sr. Director Connected Innovation at General Mills

1 comment:

Blaine said...

I liked the comment about how innovation should be customer focused. "The customer does not really care where the innovation comes from. The customer just wants it." This sums up why the companies who still provide rewards based on patents (invented here syndrome)will not innovate quickly. As with the example of the MINI COOPER, the customer does not care whether the engine is from Peugeot or BMW. They just want it.

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