Thursday, June 11, 2020

A Call for More Open Innovation

The relationship among crisis, innovation, and change has always been intertwined.

Throughout history, crises have been pivotal in the development of society. Pandemic outbreaks have helped spur advances in medicine and public health, wars have driven technological innovations, and the 2008 financial crises spawned a “sharing economy,” making room for little-known companies, Uber and Airbnb.

I have no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic will shift the sands of our society. It is already happening. If you don’t believe me, take a look at some innovations already stemming out of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted by my fellow entreVIEW authors herehere, and here

As it has proven to be time after time throughout history, crisis is a catalyst for innovation — innovation that leads to change and the development of society. Crises drive companies to invest in another catalyst for innovation: collaboration. For example, at the end of March, Ford, 3M, and General Electric announced that they would work together with the United Auto Workers to build ventilators in Michigan using F-150 seat fans, portable battery packs, and 3D-printed parts. 

But why do these market-driving companies wait for times of crisis, times of great pain, danger, or financial struggle in order to truly invest in collaboration — what some business professors refer to as “open innovation?” Concerns over return on investment, leaking intellectual property, and other unforeseen consequences of open innovation are all valid. But when will society — or, or more importantly, company shareholders — place the ability to create value in front of the ability to make a dollar? 

The concept of open innovation is not foreign to entrepreneurs. Indeed, open innovation is a central component of most entrepreneurs’ business model. Rare is the entrepreneur who develops, produces, markets, and sells his or her product without the collaboration of another entrepreneur or firm. Rare is the entrepreneur who goes it alone. Rare is the entrepreneur who is most concerned with the bottom line. 

COVID-19 has presented an opportunity for corporations to think like entrepreneurs in order to unlock the speed, strength, and creativity inherent to collaboration. Let’s hope that, when the world returns to “business as usual,” this idea of open innovation does not fade with the virus. 

No comments :

Post a Comment