Friday, November 14, 2014

Is Open Innovation the Way Ahead?

           The inspiration for this blogpost came after the case discussion on "Open Innovation" in the class recently. It puts the idea of innovation through research institutes in a different perspective. Traditionally, it was being believed that innovation was possible only through premier research institutes by eminent scientists, grounded in theoretical knowledge and experienced enough practically. How ever, this long held belief is being challenged by "Open Innovation". The prospects of Open Innovation appear to be bright, going by the enthusiastic response it has been receiving all over.
          Open Innovation, as has been explained and discussed in the class, is an umbrella term describing an approach led by scholars and practitioners who argue for shifting knowledge  creation and innovation outside the boundaries of the traditional  organizational processes. What triggered this approach was "open source" methods of organizing for innovation, which have demonstrated the possibility of innovating successfully outside of the traditional economic and organizational boundaries. The number of open source projects which were only a handful in 2000  exploding to over 250,000 in April 2014(, goes on to show it's following and wide spread adoption. Famous examples including Linux, the Apache Server, Freemail, and Mozilla Firefox add strength to the approach.
         Are there any advantages of open innovation? The apparent ones are participatory innovation, beyond the hierarchical and structured organizational boundaries, based on felt needs of consumers, citizens, clients rather than those needs assumed to be important by decision makers and innovators, at least in the sphere of public service delivery; reduced costs of innovation and later adoption; possibility of easy percolation and adoption as it is likely to be more adaptable. More over, it is being necessitated by the practical reality of reduction in budget support to research and scientific institutions the world over. Furthermore, it would result in more collaboration amongst the research scientists, developers, ordinary citizens, practitioners and government.
      But is it without challenges?  The biggest challenge would emanate from some of the well entrenched research fraternity, premier institutions, and a few think-tanks, who presume themselves to be the repository of all knowledge and fountainheads of innovation. But no one institution or individual, however eminent, can claim monopoly over ability to innovate. The evidence which augments this argument is that most of the recent developments and advances, at least in technological innovations, have come from individuals thinking out-of -the-box, and non -traditional backgrounds. This augurs well for Open Innovation. I think, on account of these, Open Innovation is the way ahead, if not the only way ahead, not withstanding resistance from orthodoxy.

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