(Open) Innovation – the funky groove of orchestrated chaos…

Open innovation is ment to mobilize and use external sources for innovation purposes. Not only to speed up the innovation process but also to achieve customer loyalty and commitment by making him/her a part of the product he/she desires (at least on customer side). Firms trying to implement innovation enhancing conditions into their daily routines usually need time to feel comfortable with their new gained “freedom” of being asked to suddenly “do things different or unconventional” which is the credo of most innovation workshops. Common results of efforts towards implementing innovation management systems are a clumsy set of experiments without sense and direction which lead to frustrated employees, dissatisfied managers and finally back to established routines.

Ok, we all can see the need of shifting towards organizational models that encourage “right brained” people, but maybe we should not push it too much. To be honest, I believe that most companies are just not set up for “open innovation”, “intrapreneurship” or whatever you may name. Most of them aren`t even set up to make creativity trainings reasonable, because the presence of certain internal processes make them a farce. “Everything is possible” is a nice slogan but answering the question of “HOW” ist the necessary orchestation of that “funky tune”.

It is more easy to name requirements necessary for creating an innovative “climate” within an organization than to find methods to actually establish this climate. Only a few firms seem to be really successful with their attempts of doing this because they found their very own set of methods, processes and routines that work fine. It is obviously a mistake to believe that the same methods etc. work just as well for others. Why is everyone trying to copy these methods? Of course some may be worth copying and their adoption may be part of a corporate learning process. But don`t we all have the best working atmosphere, the best employees, and the best and most efficient processes? Aren`t we all open minded and “creative”? Aren`t we all innovators? Let me think a second… Oviously not!

Being able to cope with change and to spot opportunities are talents which seem to favor small and entrepreneurial firms for several reasons. One most certainly is the entrepreneur him/herself. Another reason is size. You simply cannot navigate an oil-tanker through a slalom course as fast as a speedboat, but maybe you can set out several dinghys that can do the job just as well.

Michael Schulze