It can be difficult for smaller companies to find the time and proper methods to help their employees gain skills and experience on open innovation. Here are five suggestions on what they can do to build a stronger open innovation muscle. Other suggestions are highly appreciated.
1. Corporate Wildcards
Many larger corporations invite smaller companies into what we can call wild-card sessions. These corporations understand the advantages of having smaller companies as part of their open innovation eco-systems and they often invite smaller companies to help with ideation, provide an outside perspective and to provide expertise in a specific area. This not only creates a great learning experiences for both sides, but it also provides a chance to get to know one another making it serve as an effective door-opener to a potentially larger, more serious partnership.
2. Learning with Intermediaries
As the movement toward open innovation has grown, so too has the group of innovation intermediaries. They help companies of all sizes reach out to talent around the world to solve their innovation challenges. Small companies as well as large can benefit in various ways from using these intermediaries, with one of the benefits being the ability to give employees the chance to build their open innovation skills by being part of a global team.
There is no shortage of consultants and facilitators that offer insights and training modules aimed at developing open innovation skills and mindset.
4. Teaming Up with Others
More and more emphasis is being placed these days on clusters, which are geographic concentrations of interconnected businesses, suppliers and associated institutions in a particular field. Building on the age-old notion that there is strength in numbers, such clusters can provide training opportunities and other resources that individual companies might not be able to afford on their own.
5. Universities, Research Institutions and Publicly Funded Projects
With universities and research institutes eager to be part of open innovation eco-systems – and government sponsors requiring partnerships between academia and industry in order to pay their part of the bill – businesses of all sizes can reach out to these organizations to build relationships that will result in opportunities for employees to engage in open innovation and thus build their skill sets.
It would be great to hear other examples and ideas on how small companies can gain skills and experience on open innovation.
Stefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation