Open innovation -- or the concept of tapping external resources to fuel innovation within a company -- has become somewhat of a buzzword in the last several years.
Once used primarily within industries with steep innovation curves -- such as technology and pharmaceuticals -- the model of bringing outside thinking in has spread to other industries, as more companies have realized that the only way to keep pace in an increasingly competitive and dynamic marketplace is to challenge the traditional model of sourcing innovation internally.
After all, no one company has a monopoly on all the talent in the world, and any-sized company can be more effective at innovation if it leverages great minds outside the company.
Many companies, large and small, either have thought about or launched an open-innovation program over the past few years and might be wondering if it will work for them in the long term.
In my role overseeing open-innovation efforts at General Mills Inc. (IW 500/79), I've learned that when you start an open-innovation program, it's critically important to expect, address and embrace significant culture change within your organization in order to establish a successful program.
By anticipating common obstacles and navigating around them, you can promote open-innovation acceptance and success.
The following steps helped us build the General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network and have helped us evolve and adapt the program: