5 open innovation mistakes to avoid

A headshot of David Garnder.

by David Gardner

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Open innovation can be a shock to an organization’s culture. Here are a few mistakes to avoid to ensure smooth sailing towards your objectives as an innovation leader.

1. Asking employees to take risks and then penalizing them for subsequent failures

It’s all well and good to tell employees to “move fast and break things”, but this is their living we’re talking about. If they see someone be seriously reprimanded for taking a risk, they’ll play it safe to keep their job safe, too. Be mindful of how you interact with your employees in this regard.

2. Encouraging employees to come up with an idea, but failing to give them the infrastructure and tools they need to develop them

Employees have day-to-day responsibilities. They also have lives outside of work. If they’re going to put time into developing new product ideas, there’d better be tools in place and anticipated support to actually explore those ideas. If not, that pipeline of employees eager to participate in open innovation will rapidly dwindle.

Read Next: The new research and development - 6 successful open innovation programs

3. Equating open innovation to crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing, like social media marketing or mobile engagement tools, can certainly be used as part of an open innovation project but it is not open innovation on its own. This is because it lacks the project definition and bidirectional flows of knowledge that are found in open innovation challenges.

4. Failing to include complementary open innovation activities to warm people up for creative thinking

Including other activities related to the challenge at hand gives participants a chance to warm up their minds and creative problem solving skills. It also gives organizers more opportunities to receive unexpected insights from participants.

Learn more about taking a holistic approach to open innovation through what's needed for successful co-creation.

5. Forgetting the social aspect of your open innovation community

If you build it, they will come, but if you don’t sustain them once they arrive, they’ll eventually leave. Don’t think of your open innovation initiative as a one-off project.

Rather, think of it as a community of collaborators you can include in problem-solving activities. This means there needs to be a variety of activities, moderators, and some community guidelines.

In part three of our open innovation content series, we'll share everything you need to know to run and manage your own innovation challenge or ideas contest.

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