Challenges in Open Innovation and How to Solve them

by Emer Walsh

Approaching a new strategy or practice for innovation is going to have growing pains. As Open Innovation becomes a more widespread concept, it seems that there are a few common issues that organizations encounter. However, the benefits of engaging your external stakeholders outweigh the struggles that can be faced when developing the initiative for your business. Choosing the right innovation management tool to support your endeavor is an essential step to the success of your journey, but how else can you overcome these challenges and maximize the potential within your organization’s external ecosystem?

Limit idea scope

One of the biggest challenges when opening your organization to an outsider’s perspectives, is ensuring that you’re collecting productive contributions. Company’s often fear that channels will be overwhelmed with ideas to innovate areas that are not necessarily a priority for internal teams.

The solution to this is not dissimilar to how you would approach the issue if you were working on an internal project. Limit the scope of the project; ensure that you’re clearly stating what you are hoping to achieve from the project so that your contributors can support your project to their best of their ability. When embarking on an Open innovation project, check that your innovation management software enables you to set structured challenges, and can demonstrate the level of detail you need to maximize the return on your external stakeholder’s ideas.

Furthermore, this limits the time internal teams need to spend reviewing as all the ideas suggested will be in a relevant format to the organization’s overall strategic aims. Investing some time prior to the commencement of your project, establishing the outcomes desired and creating a coherent challenge that your stakeholders can engage with will ultimately circumvent the challenge.

Ensure you’re reaching the right people

Open innovation offers the opportunity to gain external insight, however, many organizations often make the mistake of embracing every group of stakeholders on every challenge. This can cause many problems including; lack of engagement, suggestions outside the scope of the project and frustration from your internal teams when they attempt to review them.

Investing in an innovation platform that enables you to target specific groups and monitor those that are contributing helps to ensure that you are getting the best quality suggestions needed to transform those ideas into actionable solutions. Deciding who you want to target with your challenge will help to keep the solutions suggested within scope, as the external stakeholders you have decided to engage with will have an understanding of the broader context related to the challenge.

Create order to highlight the best ideas

The biggest deterrent of Open innovation is the idea that it means chaos for an organization. However, as previously discussed establishing processes, much like you would do with internal innovation, is the best way to drive adoption within both your internal and external ecosystems.

Processes need to be laid out to support standardization which will improve the quality of contributions, and the number of ideas that are progressed. Utilizing processes to standardize the innovation journey for both internal and external teams does not restrict creativity, but instead, enhance it. Teams will be able to collaborate effectively and efficiently as they will be aware of the structure these processes have created. Ensuring that you invest in a software that makes these processes repeatable will not only further drive adoption of the open innovation funnel, but also allow for an easier review cycle from your internal employees.

Encourage collaboration and integrate your external stakeholders into your organization’s ecosystem

Moreover, implementing a process and educating your internal teams on them will help drive the integration of your external stakeholders as innovators within your organization. When approaching open innovation, many organizations view these external innovators as separate entities. This disconnect can negatively impact the collaborative effort that drives successful innovation projects.

Implementing an open innovation tool that supports structured innovation processes is the answer. If your external stakeholders can understand the journey they are on, and receive the appropriate feedback to their idea, knowing and understanding whether it has been taken forward and if not, why this has happened, then engagement will rise, and suggestions will become more tailored to your overall strategic challenges and goals.

Creating accessibility supports contributor motivation

Finally, the biggest challenge with open innovation is that it will only succeed if you have the engagement from external stakeholders. So how can you motivate your audience to participate?

Firstly, look to the challenge you have set the audience. Is it framed in a way that your audience can interact with? Have you asked questions that they can answer, or are you trying to gain insight that only internal teams would be aware of? One way to solve this issue, is to implement processes so that your challenges follow a routine format to maximize the most engagement from your contributors. Secondly, look to the platform you are using to innovate. Is this platform encouraging collaboration both amongst external creators as well as between your teams? Feedback is essential to the continual motivation of external innovators. If suggestions are being ignored, then people will lose their enthusiasm for the project. Positive and constructive feedback enable growth both in the individual and in the idea itself. Thus, investing in a process that encourages and motivates your contributors is ultimately beneficial for the overall innovation drive.

Finding the right open innovation tool and ensuring that your tool recognizes the importance of collaboration and embeds it into the user interface is key to overcoming all the challenges discussed. Having the ability to then leverage this with your own internal system will mean that processes will seamlessly develop and enable your teams to turn external stakeholder ideas into actionable solutions for your strategic goals. Finally, standardizing innovation within your organization will not only sustain engagement from your external innovators, but help support the internal processes and reviewing stages, driving forward adoption of the scheme. Considering all these aspects will make selecting an open innovation tool, and implementing the project within your organization, a much easier task.


To find out more about how edison365 Open innovation, the latest solution by edison365, can help you overcome the challenges commonly faced when engaging your organization's entire ecosystem, please sign up to our webinar 'Expand your innovation capabilities with Open Innovation'. 



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