Multi channel inbound marketing

Open Innovation: Changing our Mindset

Metka Ule Novak*

Let me start with a common personal experience I have when people ask me questions about my work, like “What do you do?” or “Where do you work?” I usually answer that our company deals primarily with open innovation. Usually, in response, I would en-counter a blank expression on the person’s face. On occasion, if I can see a spark in someone eyes, I would continue explaining my work, passionately talking about open innovation and its importance for our future lives.

At a reception I attended a few years ago with my husband, I met some of his colleagues.They seemed quite interested in open innovation, so I explained a lot about it to them.The next day, they told my husband that his wife is really handling some very important things for the future, although it was very complex and difficult to understand. My husband’s colleagues undoubtedly understood it, but I realized soon thereafter that I needed to get better at explaining it.

So let me try now to paint a picture of what open innovation is and why it is important to us. First, to give you a very basic definition of open innovation, it would be: Open innovation is a process, where people on one side (e.g., an oil company) identify a challenge(e.g., oil leaking from major pipeline) and open up with the problem and all information about it to another group of people (e.g., a global community of engineers) to see if they can get the best and most efficient solution possible. Each part has its own incentive sand interests. In this case, the oil company needs the best solution and the engineers want to get some financial compensation and global recognition.

But beyond that simple definition, we can also say that open innovation is not only a process and a way of thinking and problem solving, it is also a way of living. It requires us to change our mental concepts and perceptions of what innovation and creation mean to us on an everyday basis. Today, the world is on the verge of major challenges and changes in terms of values. Accordingly, open innovation, if considered as a principle,can be perceived not only as a tool for specific hi-tech business problem solving and innovation, but as a wider concept for creation and development in our everyday lives. It offers a systematic approach to our very existence. It offers something for everyone to gain, and that is exactly what we need to create our future.

Open innovation is why we started Challenge:Future. Every newspaper, business professor, and concerned citizen talks about innovation, the future, and sustainability, but few are really contributing to it. What we sought to do was to re-invent the world’s future with the most powerful tools available – using the open innovation paradigm and tapping into the vast youth think tank available in the world. Challenge:Future recognizes youth(young people 18-30) as the most valuable source for creating the future. We have believed from the start that fresh, innocent and inspired ideas can come only from young people. Young people have become the major players on the market. The world is changing and they are a significant part of it. Their ideas are what the business and academic worlds both need to consider when they are envisioning their future development.

Henry Chesbrough stated in his book, Open Innovation Models(HBS Press, 2006), “Everyone knows that innovation is a core business necessity. Companies that don’t innovate die.” And he continued by saying that the open innovation paradigm offers “the prospect of lower costs for innovation, faster times to market, and the chance to share risks with others.”

When all of these benefits are combined with the youth energy generated within Challenge:Future, we see real breakthrough innovation happening. By collaborating with outsiders -including customers, vendors, communities - companies are able to import lower-cost and higher-quality ideas from the best sources in the world.This discipline allows businesses to refocus their own innovation resources where they have clear competitive advantages. According to the latest Bain & Company research, 24% of companies used open innovation in 2004 (putting it in 23rdplace among the 25 top most powerful management tools). By 2006, it surged with an impressive growth up to 53% of the companies in 2006(putting it into 18thplace). There is no doubt that if we had more recent figures, they would be even higher.

Open innovation would not be possible without the internet, but what will drive its adoption by an increasing number of institutions is the growing competitive need to uncover many more good ideas for products and to make better and faster use of those ideas. Open innovation will grow under our skin and become the only way of being.

Meanwhile, the related term “open collaboration” is also changing our past and current conceptions of thinking, helping us to adopt new paradigms of working together. In the future, a system of collaborative networks will encompass our everyday lives, and companies, academic institutions, and individuals will discover the benefits of changing how they work.


*Metka Ule Novak is C:F Vice President, Operations and Marketing.


Please log in or register to post a comment.

Sayanee Basu

Sayanee Basu | Action team | CF Chapters

Well said Metka!
I have read the Open Innovation book by Henry Chesbrough too. I especially believe what he said in the book that "Open Innovation suggests that valuable ideas can come from inside or outside the company and can go to market from inside or outside the company as well."

When youths can combine their ideas and discuss them in an open platform such as C:F, the pure synergy in itself create a huge thought provocation!

26th August, 2010 @ 3:09 PM CEST

Dharmesh Bhadja

Dharmesh Bhadja | Action team

thanks to Metka, to share the way of living the open innovation.

i should say that she has expertly enumerated the clarity of the way which knowingly unknowingly followed by all of the ignited people...

i am very thankful and ready to Go Ahead with this life style... the open innovation...

28th October, 2010 @ 8:32 PM CEST

Jatin Kataria

Jatin Kataria | Action team | CF Chapters

I must say yOu are awesome writer Metka...
I like the way you looking at open innovation.. and yr life journey with it...

Open innovation is: thought process and if we dont have purpose behind this process then in era of Internet it can lead any where....

I think bcaz of open innovation, way of living chnage (personal as well as of organization) and thats why C:F if FLUID..!!

NOw its our duty to spread all innovative ideas across the globe which comes through process of open innovation (by c:F).. & make sure that its reaching to the end..

now if someone will tell me about open innovation then I will not give black expression at least... ha ha :)

4th November, 2010 @ 6:09 AM CEST

It’s not just a comment. It’s a story.

Read. Participate.
Shape your own future.

Have your say. Write your story. Be published. Send us your thoughts in form of articles, comments, your personal projects, suggestions, innovations, ideas ...

In my opinion, open innovation platforms are a wonderful tool that can bring all ideas in the world into one channel and put the best into function. Open innovation is a way of shortening the bridge between the idea creator, the investor, and the final user.

Statement from the book by Mirjana Dimc Perko (C:F Judge),CFO Gorenje, Slovenia

Bookmark and Share
global youth think tank & student competition