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  • Writer's pictureMeirav Peleg Landau

The Open Innovation Model by Henry Chesbrough

Updated: Mar 27

MPL Innvoation

In the early 2000s, a paradigm-shifting concept emerged in the field of innovation management, introduced by Henry Chesbrough, a professor at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley. The Open Innovation Model fundamentally redefined how companies approach innovation, challenging the traditional notion that successful innovation must be solely generated within the confines of a company. This groundbreaking idea proposed that firms could significantly enhance their innovation processes by leveraging external ideas and pathways alongside their internal efforts. Here, we explore the essence of the Open Innovation Model, its implementation, and its profound impact on the business world.

The Open Innovation Model by Henry Chesbrough

The Core Principles of Open Innovation

Open Innovation is based on the premise that in a world of widely distributed knowledge, companies cannot afford to rely entirely on their internal research but should instead incorporate external inventions and expertise whenever it offers a competitive advantage. Chesbrough identified the increasing availability and mobility of skilled workers, the growth of the venture capital market, and the external options for ideas sitting outside the core business of companies as catalysts for this approach. The model is characterized by its fluid nature, encouraging the flow of ideas in and out of the company to accelerate innovation and expand markets for external use of innovation.

Strategic Implementation of Open Innovation

Implementing open innovation requires a strategic approach to manage the inflow and outflow of knowledge and technology. Here are key strategies for applying open innovation:

  • External Networking: Building relationships with universities, research institutions, startups, and even competitors to explore new technologies, processes, and business models.

  • Crowdsourcing: Utilizing platforms to gather ideas, solutions, and feedback from a large, diverse crowd, often including customers and the general public.

  • Collaborations and Partnerships: Engaging in partnerships with other firms to share risks and rewards associated with innovation. This includes joint ventures, licensing agreements, and collaborative research and development.

  • Corporate Venturing: Investing in external startups or creating venture units within the company to explore new technologies and markets.

  • Spin-offs and External R&D: Encouraging the development of external R&D projects that may not fit the core business but have commercial potential.

Implementing Open Innovation: Success Stories

The Open Innovation Model has been successfully adopted by many leading companies, demonstrating its viability across diverse industries. Two standout examples are Procter & Gamble's "Connect + Develop" program and IBM's "Innovation Jams," which vividly illustrate open innovation in action.

Procter & Gamble's "Connect + Develop" Program: P&G revolutionized its approach to innovation by looking outside its walls. The "Connect + Develop" initiative aimed to source half of the company’s innovations from external partners. This strategy involved collaborating with inventors, startups, and other companies to bring new ideas and products to the market faster than through internal development alone. A prime example of its success is the Swiffer Duster, which became a blockbuster product thanks to technology sourced from an external partnership. This initiative helped P&G reduce R&D expenses and time to market, showcasing the tangible benefits of open innovation.

IBM's "Innovation Jams": IBM harnessed the collective intelligence of its vast ecosystem through "Innovation Jams," large-scale brainstorming events that engage employees, customers, and partners worldwide. These sessions are designed to generate innovative ideas and solutions for new products, business models, and societal improvements. One significant outcome was the launch of 10 new business ventures, with a $100 million investment, in areas such as environmental monitoring and emergency response systems, demonstrating the power of collaborative innovation.

The Impact of Open Innovation

These examples highlight how the Open Innovation Model facilitates a more dynamic, collaborative, and efficient approach to innovation. By leveraging external knowledge and resources, companies like P&G and IBM have not only accelerated their innovation processes but also fostered a culture of collaboration that extends beyond their organizational boundaries. This strategy enables them to stay at the forefront of technological advancements and market trends, proving the adaptability and effectiveness of open innovation in today's competitive business environment.


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