Some Examples of Open Innovation

Open source graphic

In an interesting article on how Procter & Gamble is using “open innovation” to develop new products and drive growth, Stefan Lindegaard gets in to specifics on how the giant soap company puts ideas in to action. This is good, because a lot of the talk about innovation can be overly abstract.

Here is some of what P&G does:

  • They seek out ideas in 85 different networks and over 120 universities, and 75 percent of the searches result in “viable leads”
  • They have a website in five languages to encourage unsolicited submissions
  • More than half of their innovation is sourced externally

The whole “open” idea is very interesting. I remember attending a talk some time ago on the use of open source software. Unfortunately, I have forgotten the speaker’s name, but he said he always made his slides open source. That forced him to refresh his talks and slides, and prevented his seminars from becoming stale, he said.

Earlier this year, I attended the Irish Universities Information Services Colloquium and heard how Sarah Thomas, Director of Oxford University Library Services, is dealing with reduced funding. She said cutbacks always force people to be more imaginative with their resources. As an example, the library wanted to make thousands of compositions in sheet music available online. Unable to fund the massive effort of documentation, Thomas decided, instead, to rely on the wisdom of crowds. Who would be better, she argued, than people who were passionate about the subject and placed high value on the respect of their peers?

Elsewhere, Lindegaard writes of how P&G sees the future of open innovation. They also see the wisdom of crowds playing a part where consumers and communities will be tapped for ideas. He says:

There will be a tremendous amount of innovation in and from developing regions which is driven by population as well as capability growth in countries such as India, China and Brazil.

Image courtesy of on Flickr.