I have just finished reading the book "The Open Innovation Revolution: Essentials, Roadblocks and Leadership Skills" by Stefan Lindegaard. Stefan is a very active member of the LinkedIn and Twitter innovation communities and his expertise is open innovation. Stefan also comments on and addresses diverse aspects of open innovation through his blog 15inno.
I have been following Stefan’s 15inno closely for quite some time now, and I was actually eager to get my hands on his new book. After reading the book, I have to admit that I am impressed because Stefan, based on his innovation and intrapreneurship work experience, paints a very realistic (and sometimes harsh) roadmap of how open innovation is to be implemented successfully. His direct, personal writing style coupled with his numerous examples of open innovation initiatives (successful and not) and interviews with innovation leaders and intrapreneurs, bring out the characteristics that are essential in designing and implementing effective open innovation programs. I also especially liked the list of key takeaways that comes in the form of a bullet-point summary at the end of each chapter.
As suggested by the title, the book is divided into 3 main parts: Essentials; Roadblocks; and Leadership Skills. The first two parts are excellent in what they set out to do which is to describe the current state of open innovation in practice and to identify factors that can assist with or inhibit its deployment. After defining open innovation as “bridging internal and external resources to make innovation happen” and describing open innovation’s important value proposition, Stefan goes on to identify that open innovation might not be for everyone. A company must first ask itself whether open innovation can provide it with any benefits and whether it can be aligned with its overall corporate strategy. In Chapter 3, Stefan provides an excellent list (based on a discussion in his 15inno community started by Chris Thoen, an R&D director at Procter & Gamble) of 10 essential elements of an open innovation culture that would definitely assist companies in answering this important question.
Once a company is clear of the potential benefits of open innovation, then it must proceed with defining what open innovation means to it. For example when P&G initiated its open innovation programs in 2000, its then CEO A. G. Lafley set the target that 50% of the company’s innovation output has to include a key external contribution. Finally, the company should be willing to invest significantly in providing open innovation education to its people in order to change their mindsets and help them obtain new skills. Stefan rightly argues that it is more important to identify (and develop) the right people (innovation leaders and intrapreneurs) that can push forward an open innovation endeavor than it is to first put the right processes in place. In Chapter 5, besides explaining the unique qualities that innovation leaders and intrapreneurs should have, Stefan also gives examples of how to best identify these people, including the organization of internal business plan competitions, or initializing intrapreneur-in-residence programs.
The second part of the book describes the main roadblocks that usually inhibit the successful deployment of open innovation (or innovation in general). These include top executive support, resistance to change by executives and managers, and the inherit difficulties and delays associated with radical innovation. Stefan describes in detail how each of these roadblocks may manifest itself and also proposes practical ways of addressing and overcoming each one of them including challenging and stretching the mindset of top executives, understanding what really matters to top executives, staying below the radar, and having people who can executive radical innovation programs. I would have liked to see in this part some discussion on the challenges posed by intellectual property, what I also consider as an open innovation roadblock, and how these may be addressed.
The third and longest part of the book focuses on how innovation leaders and intrapreneurs should develop required personal leadership skills, such as defining success, identifying values, effectuating change, managing time effectively, developing your personal brand, networking, managing relationships, and communicating effectively with a range of stakeholders. The information contained is this part of the book will be of great use to anyone directly involved in designing and implementing an open innovation program, but others might find this personal development material (and/or the coaching/consulting tone) not that relevant to the main theme of the book.
Finally, towards the end of the book, Stefan provides a bonus chapter (Chapter 17) that describes primarily how to initially organize successful internal corporate business plan competitions and how to later involve external partners as appropriate. The reason for first starting internally can be summed up with one of the earlier quotes in the book: “Embracing the outside requires that you really know the inside”.
Summarizing, “The Open Innovation Revolution” is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in learning the main practical aspects of implementing effective open innovation programs. I recommend Stefan’s book to any member of the innovation community and I hope that the open innovation revolution will soon take off!