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Open Innovation Toolbox

Planning and Implementation 

The successful and sustainable inclusion of external innovators requires both fair and transparent framework conditions, as well as an appropriate acknowledgement of the contribution to the competitive advantage obtained.

The most important elements when doing this are:

1. Transparent communication: Transparent and traceable communication is the prerequisite for every successful co-creation project. Enterprises should already consider and openly communicate this aspect in the design of the platform, the underlying processes and later in active operation. How is the winner of a competition selected? What are the assessment criteria? What type of contributions are desired from the participants? What role do experts play on the platform and what is the basis on which the jury decides? What happens with ideas if the active phase is concluded? These are all questions that an enterprise should be able to transparently communicate.

2. Quick interaction: Crowdsourcing projects normally take place online and on social media platforms. The interaction speed expected by the users is very dynamic and requires spontaneous reactions from the enterprise. If in doubt, also outside of normal business hours. A question that remains unanswered or answers that take several weeks to produce are classified by the members of communities as a lack of interest.

3. Authentic conduct: So that the participants do not feel used, the enterprise’s intention and the respective communication must be absolutely authentic. This can be achieved, for example, with the presence of enterprise employees on the platform, a top-class jury and with explicitly formulated implementation promise. To “misuse” innovation competition as pure marketing measures would be foolish.

4. Real appreciation: So that (potential) participants deem a crowdsourcing platform to be fair, the honest appreciation of members and their contributions is essential. This begins with motivating comments from community members or community managers, moves onto the selection of correct prizes through to the realistic implementation promise or later revenue share.

5. Adequate support: The fifth point is a basic one. Through opening the enterprise’s boundaries and the virtual collaboration, (hierarchical) boundaries between the enterprise and its users and customers are lifted. Strictly speaking, both sides should feel equally comfortable on a co-creation platform. As a consequence, it will provide space and room for spontaneous needs of the community so that a fruitful exchange and long-term networking is developed between the members. Thus, for example, advice on technical, content or even communicative improvement possibilities from the community should not only be included but also implemented.

This text is a excerpt from: Füller, J., 27 June 2012, “Die Gefahren des Crowdsourcing”, http://www.harvardbusinessmanager.de/blogs/a-840963.html

(Courtesy of Prof. Füller)

Tips for OI projects

  • Open Innovation instruments are powerful yet asymmetrical
  • No amount of excitement and joy while helping to shape things can compensate for a negative perception of fairness
  • Fair remuneration and/or fair acknowledgement are required: define clear compensation, settlement and remuneration mechanisms;
  • Clear and appropriate rule should be determined in advance for planned granting of rights (e.g. exclusivity is normally not required for all innovation contributions)
  • Fair procedures are implemented by impartial, transparent and rule-consistent jury processes
  • Interaction-fairness aids in motivation: be honest and sincere with the participants
  • Transparent communication, quick interaction and authentic behaviour within the project community shape successful, open innovation projects
  • Draw on experts and use established platforms
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